Life Under the Big Top

By Emily Beers

In Gymnastics/Tumbling

January 05, 2014

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Current and former Cirque du Soleil performers talk about what it takes to “deliver the magic” for 10 shows in five days.

Wellington Lima bursts through one of the back doors of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He has a huge smile on his face, but hidden behind his ever-present grin is concern.

“I dropped my bike on the way here. I got in a little accident,” says Lima, who drives a motorcycle to work. He brushes himself off and downplays the accident, but through his laughter you can see he’s in pain. He has a long night ahead of him—two two-hour shows, the second of which ends at 11:30 p.m.

It’s a regular day for Lima, who works a job that has him flipping and twisting and flying through the air in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of spectators. Lima, 33, is a trampoline acrobat in Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson One, and he’s been performing in two shows a night and 10 shows a week for 15-plus years.

“Delivering the magic,” as Lima calls it, is very important to him.

“You have to remember that people are all here for the first time,” he says. “We try to always leave a message on their hearts.”

So every night, Lima finds a way to pretend like it’s his first night performing, no matter how tired he is, how sore he is or how overworked his body feels.

As they say, the show must go on.

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