Although it really began quite a long time ago. My husband, Greg, has been juggling professionally since 1997. He had sent his promotional materials to Cirque du Soleil on several occasions, never receiving more than a form letter confirming receipt from the talent department. His last submission was around 2002.
In fall 2007, we got a call from the talent department in Montreal. When you’re a self-employed variety entertainer, and that French-Canadian-accented voice comes in from Cirque headquarters, you drop everything. They invited Greg to an audition in Las Vegas. So, in October of that year, he flew to Vegas at his own expense, to meet and impress the talent scouts from this most-esteemed organization.
For the audition, he brought a few small props, and photos and video of all of his larger stuff. He had debuted, the previous year, this routine:
which he was particularly proud of, but it was simply too expensive and complicated to ship out for the audition.
Apparently they liked him – he even survived the second day of the audition, which was physical skill stuff, strength conditioning, acrobatics. I had tried to get him to work out more before the audition, but you know, he’s a juggler. No matter – at the end he received a certificate saying something like “you passed”. Which didn’t mean too much – it meant, essentially, that he’d be moved to a higher level in their files.
We heard nothing from Cirque for over a year. And then, in January 2009, another call came. This time, there was a show. They wanted Greg to come to Montreal to meet with an artistic director, to be considered for an act in the next touring production. Our hearts started to beat a little faster.
March 2009 was his trip to Montreal. He drove up there with the cone, and most of his other material, in a van. (this time his travel expenses were covered!). He met with Robert LePage. And after that trip, they formally offered him a contract, to join the Cirque 2010 show.
This was still not the end of the process. Greg spent a couple of months going through this lengthy, detailed contract, consulting with an entertainment lawyer, negotiating fees and intellectual property. But in the end, it was signed and accepted, and we began the process of re-thinking our future.
I knew, from day one, that I would accompany Greg, with the children, on the tour. Working with Cirque du Soleil has been a distant dream of mine for over 15 years. And though in this case I won’t be actually employed by them, the chance to experience the Cirque world first-hand was not one I would give up. Even though it means letting go of my other passion – the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. The plan is this…. Greg leaves for Montreal on November 22nd. He’ll come back to Philadelphia to visit occasionally while the show is in “creation” phase, from now until April. April 22nd, the show debuts in Montreal. And at the end of June, when my oldest child, Baz, is finished with his school year, we’ll leave Philadelphia and meet Greg in Canada.
It is not going to be an easy leap, for any of us. Every day we are wrestling with questions about our two studios, our house, our belongings, our travel plans, etc. But so far, the folks at Cirque have seemed incredibly hospitable, and considerate. They have treated Greg with great respect, and he is feeling good about taking this step. Like any other choice, I suppose, some doors must close for others to open. We are both very excited for the opportunity.
This blog will chronicle our adventures as we run away with the circus. It will begin, this fall, with only Greg running away… I will stay in Philadelphia and try to report on his experiences, and my own, as we ease our way into this new situation. And then, I will continue blogging during our travels, as we make our way around Canada and Europe with three young children.
I hope you enjoy my stories, and perhaps many more of you can vicariously run away.