Of the many artists I've interviewed for this blog, Guilhem Cauchois, age 24, is one of very few who have been working towards a profession in the circus since childhood. Guilhem grew up in France, which helps. When he was small, he had a stutter, and his parents enrolled him in theater classes as a remedy. Circus was an extension of that, and from the age of 6 he trained regularly at l'Ecole des Arts de la Piste in Boulogne-Billancourt, on the outskirts of Paris. By the time he reached adolescence, he was a regular fixture at the school, training, hanging around, and helping out every day.
At the age of 14, he and 9 other students at the school formed a youth circus troupe, which they kept together for the following 5 years. They practiced together year-round, and during holidays, they would drive a truck around the region and set up a free outdoor show, where-ever they could get permission. During these years Guilhem mostly trained acrosports (partner acrobatics and hand-to-hand) but also became proficient in juggling and duo trapeze. Throughout his highschool years, he was able to do a combined program, studying academics in the morning, and training circus arts in the afternoon.
After finishing highschool, Guilhem spent 8 months intensively preparing for circus school auditions. He applied to both l'Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal (ENC), and Centre National des Arts du Cirque, in Chalons-en-Champagne, France (CNAC). In addition to hours of daily circus practice, he also trained at a local ballet school.
In February 2009, he auditioned for ENC, was accepted, and was immediately paired with Sarah Tessier for duo trapeze. That was the beginning of the greatest 3 years of his life, immersed in the rich environment of Montreal. Guilhem notes the support of the school, the close-knit community, the intensity of the training, and how much he learned about himself during this time.
Sarah and Guilhem were the first students in their year at ENC to be offered a performing contract, with Totem, immediately upon graduation. Now, they have been on the show for 1 year, and Guilhem says he is still trying to process it. In the middle of this year, he and Sarah went to Paris to compete in the Festival du Cirque de Demain, and they came home with a Gold Medal.
Tour life is physically exhausting - there is the rigor of the shows, but he, like many other artists, also supplements that schedule with a regimen of personal training. He has been thrilled to work with so many amazing, renowned artists. He enjoys the travel, and the challenge of new cities and new premieres all the time.
Here's a link to a short Instagram video that Totem recently posted of Guilhem, preparing for a show.