Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Totem artist profiles - Sarah Tessier

Sarah Tessier, age 21, is originally from Montreal. She is featured in the Duo Trapeze act "Lovebirds" in Totem.
Sarah grew up in Montreal, the second of four girls, and as a kid she tried lots of different sports and activities. Gymnastics she only did when she was very young, but always missed it.
When she was 15 years old she auditioned for l'Ecole Nationale de Cirque's highschool-level program. At that time she had no circus skills at all, and only minimal strength and flexibility. She says, "I was accepted on my potential." They gave her a 2-week probationary acceptance into the school, but were quickly convinced that she could rise to the challenges of the program.
After two years, she had to audition for the diplôme d'études collégiales en arts du cirque (DEC), which is the higher-level professional training program. She wasn't accepted into the full program right away, but instead put into the mise à niveau, a 1-year preparatory program. After that, she auditioned yet again, and was granted acceptance into the DEC.
During that last audition process, she announced her interest in trapeze, and she met Guilhem. They were set up as a duo act, and began training. The specialty-training progresses gradually at ENC - in the first year they spent 5 hours / week on trapeze, in the second year 7, and in the third year 10. Alongside this, they were given a full courseload of general studies in acrobatics, physical conditioning, and performance.
Between Sarah's 2nd and 3rd years at ENC, she and Guilhem sent a video of their act to Cirque du Soleil. Cirque was looking for another duo trapeze act for Totem, and the process of negotiating and contracting went quickly. By October of their 3rd year at ENC, Sarah and Guilhem had a signed contract to begin performing for Totem at the end of the school year.

In that whirlwind summer of 2012, Sarah and Guilhem completed their final presentations at ENC, spent 5 weeks at Cirque headquarters training the "Lovebirds" act, and arrived on the Totem tour. Sarah says that all of her new colleagues in Totem were warm and welcoming from the very beginning. And now she is enjoying tour life. Visiting so many different cities is one of the best parts of this experience - because we have so much time in each place, it's a chance to really get to know many other cities.
Sarah and Guilhem had a great moment in January, when they took a break from Totem to win the Gold Medal at the Festival Mondiale du Cirque de Demain, one of the most prestigious circus competitions in the world.
For Sarah, performing is still exciting. She gets butterflies in her stomach, especially in the very first moment that she sees the audience, as the bridge lowers down at the beginning of her act. But she is a true professional now, performing up to 10 shows a week, and "Lovebirds" is one of the most popular acts in the show.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw the documentary "World Circus" at the RiverRun Film Festival in Winston-Salem yesterday, that chronicles 4 performing groups as they head for competition in Monaco. Fascinating, exhilarating, and magical. Also a tremendous amount of dedication, persistence, and hard work. Many blessings on your journey. It must be quite a life!