It’s hard not to be mesmerized — a Cirque du Soleil juggler, in full make-up and costume, juggling non-stop as if it were as easy as breathing.
On Tuesday morning, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at a few of the tricks you’ll see from Cirque jugglers at next month’s “Dralion” — opening on Sept. 19 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Twenty-eight-year-old Vladik Miagkostupov has been touring with “Dralion” for about five years — and performing for audiences since he was 9 years old. For him, you could say it’s the family business.
His parents were part of the Moscow Circus, are trained dancers and acrobats and his father is a juggler. He learned how to juggle from his father — and not long after was thrust into the performance world. He’s toured 30 different countries and won several awards, all before joining Cirque du Soleil in 2003.
To say the least, Miagkostupov has had an interesting life. He chatted with us a bit — in between juggling — during a visit to the WCCO studios.
Q: So you basically grew up performing and traveling in different shows. What was your childhood like?
A: Yeah, my parents were performers so of course, I was all over the place. Even when I started school, I was switching schools all the time. So yeah, I went to school at Las Vegas and Atlantic City and Hawaii for a year and a half. So yeah, it was interesting.
Q: To say the least. You learned how to juggle from your father?
A: Yeah, my father was also a juggler before. For the last 20 years, he’s been doing this cube act.
Q: Interesting, what does that consist of?
A: Cube, it’s hard to explain. It’s like a manipulation. It’s this big, 5-by-5-by-5-feet cube. And he like spins it and goes in the air with it.
Q: How long did it take you to perfect the art of juggling and get to this level?
A: It’s hard, I’ve been juggling for 22 years now, so it’s always kind of an on-going process. There’s always more and more that you’re trying to do. So it kind of never ends. But at 9 years old, that was my first professional job. So I started performing professionally when I was nine.
Q: You were performing professionally with several other tours before joining Cirque. What was it like when you did your first Cirque show?
A: I was very excited. Of course, I’d seen many shows since I was 7 or 8 years old. I was watching Cirque du Soleil and thinking, ‘Oh, some day I would love to do one of their shows.’ So I was very excited.
Q: Since you’ve been performing for so long, do you get nervous at all before shows anymore? What’s it like for you to be on stage?
A: Yeah, when you do it every day, you kind of get into an automatic mode. It’s not like you’re scared. Of course, you still have that — sometimes I’ll finish my act on a normal day and I’ll want to do it again. I feel so excited to do it. But of course, you have those days when you’re tired so it’s not always like that. But if it’s like a premiere for somebody, like if my father comes to see me, I’m still going to be nervous — and it’ll be an adrenaline, nervous-based show.
Q: How often are you able to perform for your family?
A: Pretty often. My dad and my mom they both came a few times while I was in “Dralion” and before that. And I work with my parents, a lot also, like in the same shows. So sometimes we work together, which is nice. A nice family show.
Q: Tell me a little bit about “Dralion” and what makes it kind of unique to the Cirque brand.
A: The unique part is that the show is actually an Asian-themed show, so it’s like a mix of Western culture and Eastern culture. We have, I think, 24 Chinese artists. Basically they do a lot of traditional Chinese acrobatics but it’s mixed with the Cirque du Soleil, avant-garde style.
Q: Obviously, you started in this business at a very young age. Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d like to?
A: I’ve done a lot, but I mean, there’s just a lot of continuing and doing more shows. I’ve been with “Dralion” for five years. Ultimately I’d like to do another Cirque show or maybe a new one. But yeah, just continue to get better and better as much as I can.
Q: What’s it like touring with the show and constantly being on the road?
A: Well it’s hard but it’s fun at the same time. You get to see a lot of stuff and experience a lot of cultures. We don’t just do USA but we go all over the world. At the same time, it does get difficult because you do want to settle down and just stay in one place because you’re always living from a suitcase but I guess everything has its pluses and minuses. For the people who are working at the same place every day, they don’t have the opportunity to go and see all this stuff.
Q: Why should people come and see this show?
A: It’s a great show. It’s been here before. The show was here in 2003. It was the first Cirque du Soleil show in Minneapolis but it’s changed a lot. There’s a lot of new acts in it. The music, the costumes, everything’s been updated. So if you’ve seen it before, come again.
Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion opens Sept. 19 and runs through Sept. 23 at the Target Center. Tickets range in cost from $30 to $145. For tickets or more information about the show, check out the website.