The Life of a Cirque du Soleil Contortionist | An Interview with Bayarma

Cirque du Soleil Contortionist

If you’ve been to a Cirque du Soleil show, chances are you left in total awe. How were the performers able to do such seemingly impossible feats? How much training does it take? What does a typical day look like for them while on tour with Cirque? 

Meet Bayarma, a contortionist in Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, which is currently staged in Atlanta, Georgia, with tickets available through Christmas Eve. We got an exclusive look into Bayarma’s day-to-day life, from what move she finds the most challenging to how many times she’s been to a chiropractor (the answer will surprise you!) and so much more.

Check out our interview with Bayarma below.

Your bio mentions that your sports teacher noticed you had some natural flexibility, and that’s how you got started on this path. Can you walk us through your journey and the training you went through to become a professional contortionist? How does one become a contortionist?

Bayarma: At 10 years old, I joined a circus school. And we trained there six times a week for about three hours, from 3 pm- 6 pm. In the mornings, we studied at a regular school. And we went to our circus training after. As you can imagine, we had a really busy schedule!

I did four years at the circus school. Then I started working at Buryat State Circus in Russia as a contortionist. I worked there for about 10 years before I joined Cirque du Soleil.

Do you ever have back problems? Do you get massages or visit a chiropractor regularly?

Bayarma: I haven’t had many back problems. And I have never been to a chiropractor. I want to try a visit someday. But yes, we love massages. We have them every week at work. We even have two physiotherapists who are part of our team and touring with us.

Bayarma
Photo Used with Permission from Bayarma

How did you first come to work with Cirque? And how long have you been working with Cirque?

Bayarma: When I was working in Mexico, I went to meet the Cirque du Soleil casting as they had organized an audition when the show Quidam was touring there. The casting team welcomed us in the Big Top. I only heard back from the casting team nine months later. And we got a first contract to work for a show called Banana Shpeel. I then worked for the show Iris in Los Angeles, and right after that show closed, we got an offer to be part of the creation of KURIOS. It’s now been 10 years that I have worked for Cirque du Soleil!

On a day that you’re performing with Cirque, what does a typical day look like for you?

Bayarma: In the mornings and daytime, when I have free time, I try to spend as much time as possible with my son. And then I run to work for the evening shows. When I get to work, every single minute is timed! Makeup (we do our own makeup!), warm up, performance during the show, and then cool down and a conditioning routine. It’s pretty much like that every show day!

Are there certain foods you have to avoid? Does being a contortionist affect your diet at all?

Bayarma: No, I can eat everything I want! I just make sure not to eat 2-3 hours before a performance.

What’s the dynamic like between all the performers?

Bayarma: Most of us have been working together for a long time, and being in our cast feels like being part of a big family. Because we spend most of our time together on-site and backstage. It’s like this every day, 5 days a week, almost all year long!

Do you have any before or after-show rituals?

Bayarma: For me, it is very important to warm up before the show and cool down after every performance. This is my ritual!

Cirque du Soleil Contortionist
Photo Credit: Mathew Tsang / Photo Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Everything you do looks hard to audiences, but what positions or moves do you find the most challenging?

Bayarma: To me, the most difficult thing to do is a double handstand. It’s when I am holding somebody on top of me, and I have to do a handstand on top of someone else, like a pyramid.
But sometimes, the most difficult part is just to warm up and get ready for a performance, especially in the morning when we do early shows.

My flexibility varies from one day to another. Some days I feel super flexible, and others not so much. Haha! But, of course, audiences don’t see that. That’s something that I feel because I’m doing it every day.

Out of everything you’ve done so far with your career, what are you most proud of?

Bayarma: I’m super proud that I returned in the same shape after my maternity leave and the pandemic. For me, it was three years without performing. I’m very happy and proud to be back here on tour!

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios opened in early October in Atlanta and is continuing through Christmas. Is there anything you’ve gotten to do so far around Atlanta that you enjoyed? Favorite restaurant or attraction? Or anything you’re really excited to check out?

Bayarma: Since we have our son with us on tour, we mostly visit all possible children’s activities on our days off. We loved the Aquarium – we have been there already twice, and we are thinking of going back one more time before we leave!

Of course, we are now getting excited about all the fun Christmas activities to do with the family, like going ice skating!

Tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios are now available here! Be sure to check out the show while it’s in Atlanta!

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