Ever Been to a Circus Rave? No, Us Neither
Turns out you need to be exceptionally fit (and, if male, have a beard). Bestfit meets Gen Morin, Gen Gauthier and Antoine Carabinier Lépine, from Cirque Alfonse’s BARBU, heading to the London Southbank this Summer…
GM: BARBU is a circus rave. It’s a twisted traditional circus cabaret mixed with music and videos.
ACL: The first part of BARBU is like an old cabaret with traditional circus skills. Then in the second part anything and everything can happen, its goes more wild with non-traditional circus skills. It’s a mix with music from our live band, circus and video as well.
A circus rave sounds amazing. How do you get involved with such a thing?
GM: I was involved with gymnastics and dance as a child. I later went to the National Circus School in Montreal.
GG: I did gymnastics, dance and theatre when I was a kid but it wasn’t until I went to the National Circus School in Montréal that I started to train at a more advanced level
ACL: I started circus when I was 15 years old, also at the National Circus School of Montréal. After working with all the big companies in Québec (Cirque Éloize, Cirque du Soleil, 7 Fingers) we wanted to do our own circus. We created Cirque Alfonse in 2005 with my family and friends.
What is your role and what do you bring to the show?
GM: I am an acrobat, so I bring the feminine part next to the big bearded guys.
ACL: I am a multidisciplinary acrobat. I bring my beard and craziness!
It looks ridiculously demanding. How fit do you need to be?
GM: Our bodies are used to being pushed physically, that’s just the life of an acrobat. The show is hard when we’re first putting it together, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.
ACL: Yes, the show is really physical, I have been training all my life and never stop doing shows. But of course at the beginning of a new show it’s always harder. The more you do it the easier it gets.
Some of the skills look difficult to master. How much training is involved?
GM: You basically need to have good physical skills, be open minded and ready to travel. You learn a lot while you are training and performing as a circus artist. There are actually lots of different disciplines involved, so you are always learning and pushing yourself to try and bring those new skills to another level.
GG: You need to have a lot of strength (mentally as much as physically). You must be creative and able to improvise with changes at the last minute. The circus demands a lot of particular physical skills but also artistic abilities. The attributes depend a lot on the discipline in which you specialise.
How do you split your time between learning the skills and keeping fit?
GM: When we have a long period of shows, like here in London, we don’t train as much because we like to keep the energy for the actual performances and our audiences. We do our workouts before the show, like warming up muscles, stretching and rehearsing some parts of the acts from the show.
ACL: To do a show it’s like a training session in a way. It keeps you very fit!
What do training sessions involve? Your movements include a lot of lifting and stretching?
GM: A lot of stretching exercises (pilates and stuff like that) and circus tricks in themselves.
ACL: Normally we train by doing some parts of our circus act. It’s not often that we train in a gym or other stuff for the show itself.
What else do you do… Yoga, perhaps?
GM: I mainly do the yoga stuff around the shows but when we’re not touring I tend to go to the gym, and I love riding my bike around Montreal.
GG: Flexibility gives you amplitude in your movements and connects you with your body. I would recommend Yoga for everybody.
ACL: I do roller skating and at home I always go everywhere with my bike.
What’s the hardest manoeuvre to execute consistently?
GM: For me it’s actually hand stands!
GG: Being an aerialist, the ground acrobatic skills have always been a challenge.
ACL: It’s probably doing the four-men-hand-to-hand. I don’t know if you can tell but we are quiet big and heavy!
Whats the best single move you do when training that our readers could do to get circus fit?
GM: I’m stretching all the time and I think everyone should do it because it really facilitates everyday activity.
GG: Everybody should work on their flexibility. You can avoid injuries and it provides a better overall health. My tip would be to stay positive. It does half the work you need to do.
ACL: Back-flip somersault!
You obviously travel with the show. Is it hard to train and eat well on the go?
GM: When we have a kitchen I try to cook and eat in most of the time. Finding restaurants that serve fresh food is really important and not always easy.
GG: When I go for a long tour I bring a little stove with me so I can cook some ‘real food’. And if you go out to a restaurant you have to try to make the right choice…
ACL: That’s probably the hardest thing. We don’t eat well on tour…
About the show
Packed with astonishing acrobatics and perfectly-groomed beards, BARBU is cabaret but not as you know it. Performed by Canada’s Cirque Alfonse, it’s a spectacularly raucous and sexy circus. Set to a heart thumping score, circus and mayhem collide in an adventure of skills and muscly torsos. Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed premier at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, get ready to party!
You can catch BARBU in London between June 15 and September 25.
For more information, and tickets, visit: