Cirque du Soleil is jumping in Kelowna.
Previewing their show Quidam, the Cirque du Soleil troupe sent along Adrienn Banhegyi to introduce this skipping-themed storyline and show off the impressive things one can do with a little rope. From the beaded variety to cotton lariats one might find in a climbing store, this skipping protégé knows the ropes of performance — in more ways than one. Landing this role marks a lifetime of hard work and dedication to a craft her father found for her by fluke.
“I started about 20 years ago at the idea of my dad because he saw a movie and they were doing double dutch in it and he thought it would be worth a try,” said Banhegyi.
Initially, he picked up the ropes for the girls in his boarding school classes, but as Banhegyi followed along and improved, father and daughter soon found themselves in Hungary at the International Rope Skipping Federation researching competition and a possible role on the world stage. Banhegyi went on to compete and eventually won the IRSF World Championships three times and the IRSF European Championships five times before finding a more playful role.
“About six or seven years ago, I made the decision in my jump-rope career that instead of competing, I wanted to try doing more performance,” she said.
Enter Cirque du Soleil and the Quidam production.
Quidam is about young Zoé, a bored little girl whose distracted parents are ignoring her enough she decides she must find meaning in life through the imaginary world of Quidam. Inside this world she is greeted by all manner of characters—20 of whom had to learn jump-rope skills like Banbegyi to fill out their solos — and launches on an emotional journey culminating in a reunion with parents and finding happiness in family.
Banhegyi’s life sounds somewhat similar, for she certainly enjoys a fairy-tale lifestyle, meeting an abundance of interesting characters.
After competing in jump-rope on an international stage, she sent an audition tape to Cirque and was taken into a world were talented people intermingle every day, sharing their eccentric gifts. After the performances are through, members of the troupe offer circus skill classes where a skipper, like Banhegyi, can try her hand at any of the other acts. Her favourite at the moment is a Spanish web act that uses a lot of upper-body climbing strength she ordinarily wouldn’t exercise.
“We learn from each other and it’s fun because you get different workouts,” said Banbegyi. “And then you wake up very sore the next day.”
Quidam is in Kelowna from Aug. 22-26 at Prospera Place for eight performances. Tickets are available online or by calling 250-762-5050.