"Airborne Tango Dancer" - Marianella Michaud
© Interview by Tatiana Balashova
Photography © Subbusclicks, Getty Images, Adrian Roup, Laura Mingo, Comsa Adina, Andrei Dragon.
I was born on a farm in Canada around goats and my closest neighbors were cows ;)
My dad was a professional cyclist, as well as a coach. So I come from a very active family. I spent the first years of my life watching road cyclist’s trainings and races.
Q 2: What kind of training did you have?
I started rhythmic gymnastics at a very early age (3 years old!).
The coaches I had through my life were all from the Soviet Union. I would lie if I were to say the training was easy and painless. A day as a rhythmic gymnast mostly consists of stretching… for long long hours! The fun part was to practice the manipulation of each apparatus (ball, hoop, clubs, ribbon and rope) and create my own choreography.
The highlights of that time were obviously when I got to win medals or when I was chosen to be part of the Elite team of Quebec.
Q3: What was your most memorable moment of that time?
I can never forget the first trip I made for a competition. Traveling around North America and missing school was awesome!
But seriously, I consider myself very lucky that I got to discover the world at an early age. This made me so curious about other cultures and I believe it was the birth of my wanderlust!
The only time I won tickets to assist a show in my life was as a child! I got to see a traditional circus show under a big top. I would say I was about 7 years old. My memories of that moment are very blurred, but I remember that I was intrigued and mesmerized by it. Being a child, it was like if I had an enigma to solve or a treasure to discover in that circus world.
Q 5: When did you make a decision to be a circus artist?
I believe circus chose me!
I was determined to become an actress. I studied dramatic arts until the day a friend of mine asked me to attend the audition of the National Circus School of Montreal with her. When I received the news that I was accepted (as well as her) in the most prestigious circus school of the world, I knew that circus had chosen me.
I soon realized that modern circus mixes dancing and acting and is the expression mode that matched me the most.
Q 6: What companies have you worked for?
I've been working for Cirque du Soleil for the past 3 years. Now performing in Las Vegas. Before that, I was touring the world with the show Cavalia.
Q 7: What is your favorite performance /show you worked on? What did you have to do there? Why is it dear to your heart? :)
Since my graduation from circus school, I have been very blessed to experience all kinds of performances. I don’t have a favorite show, since every single one of them made me grow as an artist. In the equestrian show Cavalia, I got to dance and fly around horses, which made it for sure unforgettable. Afterwards, working with Cirque du Soleil, I got to work with incredibly talented artists and had the chance to understudy the main character in addition to my work as a dancer and aerialist.
Q 9: If to speak about names of people in circus who are your “teachers/ mentors” and what were/are your inspirations?
I was lucky to have a big team of coaches and artistic advisers supporting me at the circus school.
But my inspiration to always move forward was my dad, who was an athlete himself. He always encouraged me to push my limits, especially in harsh times.
Q 10: Is there anything in that career (sphere) which you would like to try, maybe challenge yourself more or just for fun?
It’s funny because in every show I have done to this date, I was always asked to challenge myself and learn something completely new! A quality of a circus artist is also to have the guts and will to try new things all the time. No matter how dangerous or painful it can be ;)
Eventually, I would enjoy flying on an aerial apparatus I have never worked on before.
I would also love using my acting skills once more and work as a character in a show again.
Q 11: Would you want your child (children) to belong to the circus life in some way?
I would be glad and proud if they do anything they want… with passion and with love.
Q 12: What do you think are the main myths about circus artists (circus)?
People think we spend our entire day training! We do workout, but doing two shows a day keeps us pretty fit. Basically, trainings are for learning new tricks and prevention of injuries.
When did Argentine tango come into your life? How long have you been dancing tango and what inspired you to try it?
A friend of mine kept talking about tango, at the same time as I was searching for a dance to incorporate into my trapeze act as a student in circus school. I finally went to a trial class at a local tango school in Montreal. This was back in 2004. At the end of the class, the couple danced one tango. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This dance was improvised! I had to find the mysteries about this dance.
I thought once I finished combining tango with my trapeze act, I would be done with tango! We are never done with tango!
What fascinated me about this dance is that no matter how many classes I was taking or how often I would dance, I kept learning new skills all the time. To this day, I am captivated by tango and I keep practicing and taking classes, because I always see improvement in my dance!
Q 14: How often do you dance tango usually? Is it mostly at bigger events or small milongas as well? What are you favorite places to dance at and why?
I love to support small milongas. They are my favorite!
Nowadays, performing circus arts ten times a week, I am not dancing as much. But I travel from time to time to dance at festivals. I was lucky to performed and teach this year in a beautiful tango festival in Cluj, Romania.
My favorite place to dance would be La Viruta in Buenos Aires. Because it brings dancers of all ages and styles. It’s an after hour for tango dancers :).
I would say the first tango performance I have seen in Argentina. I was new to tango and saw the performance of Chico Frumboli and Juana Sepulveda. I had no idea it was possible to dance tango this way. Back then, I had only been to local milongas in my city. You can imagine the shock!
Q 16: Anyone in particular who inspires you in tango?
Geraldine Rojas, Graciela Gonzalez, Alejandra Mantiñan and many other!
Q 17: What would you say to people who consider taking up circus arts as a career/ vocation?
It is an incredible career. I got to work with such talented artists and was so inspired by my colleagues.
But be ready to travel lot’s and to miss your loved ones :P
Q 18: And what would you say to people who consider taking Argentine tango as a vocation/ career? :)
Good question! I could write so much about this subject.
Tango is a big community. There is lot’s of competition out there. To become a professional tango dancer and teacher requires hard work and real devotion.
I have quite a few dreams… But I’m not a big fan of planning.
Q 20: If you could work on any project anywhere you want, what would it be?
I would love to eventually be in a touring show again.
- favorite tango music: Pasional; Pugliese y Moran
- tango DJs: I’ll just name a few! In United States; Shorey Myers, Avik Basu. In Europe; Florin Bilbiie, Mihran Şigaher, La Rubia
- non-tango music: Nina Simone
- your favourite quotation about tango?
"Tango que me hiciste mal y que, sin embargo, quiero"
- color? Depends on my mood ;)
- what is your favorite flower? Camellias
- favorite dish / food Peruvian
- which animal would you like to be if you were an animal in your next life? A bird! No need of passport and planes. I could just go anywhere all the time.
- what dance would you dance if not tango? Flamenco
- what film would you recommend watching? Since we were talking about circus, I would say “La belle verte”
- what circus shows would you recommend watching? Corteo, La Verità, The Beatles Love, any show from “Les 7 doigts de la main”
- what place would you choose for a romantic trip? Venice
- what place would you live if you could live anywhere? Anywhere I could have all my loved ones together.
- who would you like to say “thank you” to? My dad
- Your motto: Make of your life a dream, and of a dream, a reality.
Anything else you would like to say to the TangoDancers Blog’s readers? Namaste
Thank you, Marianella! Good luck with everything!