A few years ago, I met the tremendously talented Kristi Wade. Kristi is a Lyra (aka Aerial Hoop) artist from Australia. While she's been busy kicking ass in Sydney for the past couple of years, she'll be returning to Canada to start training for Toruk: Cirque du Soleil's new show based on Avatar.
Kristi is the strongest performer of the Lyra that I ever had the pleasure of working with. Her style, grace, and above all strength are absolutely inspiring. While a hemisphere a way, she agreed to do an interview for CircoFit. Read on to see what Kristi has to say about training, recovery, and dedication to your craft.
(CircoFit) First of all, congratulations on being hired for Cirque du Soleil’s newest show! How long have you been working towards this goal?
(Kristi) Thank you so much! It’s my dream come true! I have wanted this since I was 9 years old and have been training ever since to achieve it!
How were you introduced to circus?
I saw Cirque Du Soleil when I was 8 and then asked Mum to put me in circus classes. Which she did and ever since the first day I knew what I wanted.
You seem to have had a busy year. Can you tell our readers what you’ve been up to in Sydney this past little while?
In the last year I’ve completed two 6-month contracts with Pacha Sydney - the largest, most famous night clubbing venue in Australia. This was under the direction of the world famous creative directors/choreographers, 'The Squared Divison,' who have directed music videos of Taylor Swift, Redfoo, Lady Gaga, Madonna, etc., and TV shows such as X Factor.
I also had a workshop with Pink’s aerial coach, Dreyer Webber. I competed in the Australian Aerial All Stars competition and I have been performing with all of Australia's leading agencies for corporate events and festivals. Also training really hard on all my apparatus's (Aerial Hoop, Duo Cube, Duo Ladder, Aerial Kisses, Tissu, and Contortion Acrobatics).
What was your favourite show or act to perform in?
My favourite act is my 'Man I Feel Like a Woman' Aerial Hoop act. It’s sassy and upbeat and super dynamic. I spin really fast and really enjoy the vibe of this act. My second favourite is my Duo Ladder act called 'LOST' which is edgy and tells a story. Both are completely different and so fun!
What do you love about the Lyra?
How fast I can spin and how high i can fly.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get where you are (physically and as a performer)?
Mostly it’s dedication to your art. You need to train really hard and stay in perfect health in order to succeed, so socializing decreases. I wouldn't let anything get in my way, including relationships, so that’s really hard as well.
Do you ever make yourself train when you don’t feel like it? How do you motivate yourself to get to the gym on a day like that?
Yes - you need to train on the off days as well. Every day can’t be a good one but you will achieve results by training every day. I also get a lot of enjoyment out of training so most days I want to go in and play and train. When you have a goal as big and as hard as Cirque then you need to make a decision to commit and not give up until you get there.
Lyra can be pretty hard on the body. Not only muscle soreness, but some serious bruising as well. Any tips for recovery?
All apparatus hurt….and they keep hurting but eventually you don't notice it anymore; you become accustom to the pain or you kill enough nerves and can’t feel it anymore – ha ha! I don't get sore very much anymore unless it’s a new apparatus or trick. Circus performers are always covered in bruises and never know where they came from. Physiotherapy is of the utmost importance to an athlete. Regular treatments are necessary to keep your body in alignment and to get rid of any niggles that could potentially turn into something worse because let’s be honest. When your told you need 6 weeks off we all know thats not going to happen. We cant afford time off so keeping on track of your body's needs is really important to avoid more intense injuries. Also knowing your limits when learning. Knowing how strong you are and how strong you have to be to complete the trick safely, making sure you build the strength while slowly learning the new move and not being impatient with it.
What main advice do you have for anyone who has just started to learn tricks on the lyra?
Conditioning!!!! You can’t do enough strength or flexibility. Find a way to be different in the way you present your tricks. Learn how to spin - Lyra is made for spinning and swinging so learn how to. Be creative, don't just look up tricks on YouTube, put a mat underneath you and make up your own unique style. Everything hurts (that’s why it so impressive), so don't give up.
Kristi leaves for Montreal next month to start some very exciting work with Cirque du Soleil. You can follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristiWadeAerialist.