Red Bull Athletes Train with Cirque du Soleil

Athletes, B-Boys and Cirque performers combine forces for the Red Bull High Performance Exchange.
By Novella Genelza

What do a fixed gear bike rider, a big wave surfer, a breakdancer, and a Cirque du Soleil performer all have in common? On an ordinary day, nothing. But this past summer, they were all brought together for one week through the Red Bull High Performance Exchange — a cross-training program unlike anything before.

Meagan Ethell: What fear of heights?

Seven athletes, four dancers, and four artists gathered at the Red Bull High Performance Training Center in Santa Monica to explore the relationship between creativity and sport. Participants such as big wave surfer Maya Gabeira, flatland BMX rider Terry Adams, snowboarder Pat Moore and BC One All-Star Neguin learned how to fuse athleticism with circus arts and street entertainment, all in preparation for a live performance.

The goal of this fish-out-of-water experience was to encourage Red Bull athletes and dancers to face and overcome their own creative, physical and mental limitations. The program’s uniquely collaborative environment offered participants ways to develop their strengths, giving them new tools for success and helping them finding common ground with each other in unexpected ways.

Agostinelli training B-boys Pelezinho and Lilou

The week started off with improvisation taught by Massimo Agostinelli, a master of Bouffon, the art of clowning. The next day, they covered choreography, stage presence and self-expression with celebrity choreographer brothers Rich and Tone Talauega.

“The Bouffon stuff was wild! I’ve never done anything like that before," exclaimed fixed gear rider Addison Zawada with a smile. "We’re not scared to act a fool in front of each other now.”

Surf Survival: Learning to hold their breath

Day three focused on surf survival. Participants hit the pool to practice holding their breath, pushing past their perceived limitations and ultimately discovering that they were capable of holding their breath underwater for as long as 3-4 minutes. On the fourth day, the group hit up the Red Bull recording studio to write and record their own original track with songwriter Fiona Kernaghan and had a skate session with the legendary Rodney Mullen.

“It’s really cool to see what other people bring, because we’re all so different," said Cirque du Soleil performer Mei-Mei Bouchard. "To see what they create from that, and then what you can create from that and with them, it was really awesome,”

The Big Show

At the end of the week, participants finally got to show off their hard work and collaboration by putting on a live show at Red Bull HQ, complete with aerial tricks, dancing, and music.

So, will you ever get to see your favorite Red Bull athletes performing circus tricks live? Choreographer Rich Talauega hints at the possibility of more collaboration to come. “What I’m hoping the artists will take away [from] this experience is more confidence… that is the future.”

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