Massimo and Denise are the breathtaking Rollerskate Duo in Totem. Their act is amazing, and their life stories, even more so. They are a real-life married couple, with a 5-year-old daughter, and they have both spent their entire lives as circus performers.
Both were born into traditional European circus families. Massimo, 34, originally from Tuscany, Italy, is a 3rd-generation performer. His grandparents were clowns, and his parents were roller-skaters and aerialists. Massimo's first performance was at age 3 in his grandfather's clown act. By the age of 12 he was performing on rollerskates, as a flyer, with his uncle as the base. He continued doing this act until he was 21.
Denise, age 36, is from Benidorm, Spain. Her parents and grandparents were aerialists. As a child, she was trained as an acrobat. When she was 3 years old, her father had an aerial accident and was no longer able to perform. So her brother, age 7, and her sister, age 10, stepped into the ring as performers, supporting the family, while her parents took smaller jobs in concessions and photography.
Denise, throughout her childhood, resisted performing. She was finally persuaded to earn her keep at the age of 18, and she put together an astonishing, world-class hula hoop routine. You can see it here. (that's Massimo as her assistant)
Denise and Massimo met as children, but didn't really get together until their early twenties, when they left their families and stayed together as a couple and a performing partnership. The hula-hoop act was their main one, with the rollerskate act as a second performance. Five years ago they took a 14-month break from performing to have their daughter, Gipsy.
They are all enjoying and appreciating life on tour with Cirque du Soleil. Massimo says that CdS takes really good care of its artists, with physiotherapists and massage therapists and sick-leave policies. And it's a great cast. He says that CdS has so many rules - at first it was really difficult for him, but now he understands why this is.
Denise appreciates working with the artistic directors in Cirque du Soleil. She feels they really have solid direction, feedback, and critiques to bring the rollerskating act to continually higher levels, which they never had in previous jobs. And they're excited that in another year, Gipsy will be old enough to attend the Totem school.