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HONOLULU (KHNL)- It's a tough life working for the circus but it's an amazing show to watch!
After all, you have exhilarating acts performed by acrobats, strong men and of course, we can't forget the contortionists!
So when the international show "Cirque Dreams" came to town, I flipped at the chance to be a Cirque performer!
My adventure begins at the Blaisdell Concert Hall with Marco Ballestracci one of the stars of the show. The Virginia native has been performing since he was three years old and comes from a family of professional performers. He tells me what I can expect on my first day on the job.
"You're going to laugh, you're going to be scared from the performance for falling and you're going to be excited!" said Ballestracci.
Wait a minute, did he just say I'm going to be falling?
Marco doesn't explain. Instead, he takes me to the stage where he says it's very important I stretch out before rehearsals.
I try my best to keep up with the flexible contortionists from Mongolia but I don't dare attempt to follow them when they literally go head-over-heels!
Next, I meet the Production Stage Manager, Betsy Herst.
"Shapes is next, please!!!" yelled Herst.
Herst makes sure everything from the lighting, to the costumes, the set, the cast and their acts, are in place and ready to go.
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy has been running for two years and there's no room for mistakes even during rehearsals.
"Stephanie! You're up! Let's go!" said Betsy as she motioned for me to get on stage.
This is my chance to show Besty I am stage-ready. I do my best impression of a professional hula hoop dancer and wave my hands in the air, but in the end, Betsy's not impressed.
"No, no, no! That's all wrong," Betsy said. "Go back and rehearse, we'll get you afterwards."
I take Betsy's advice and rehearse backstage with Glenn Rogers and Marco.
Everything seems to be going well until I find out part of the act requires that Glenn and Marco flip me.
"If we move you, you should be stiff as a board," explained Glenn just before they sweep me off my feet.
It happened so fast I did not know it was coming. In a flash, I'm flipped upside down and standing on solid ground again. It was a rush, a scary rush!
I have the acrobatics down. Now, I head to the costumes department where I get fitted for my role as a giant cheetah.
"Make sure you have big claws," instructed Marco.
I'll appear in costume just before the opening of the second act in my cheetah costume and my only job is to prance around and look like a wild animal which shouldn't be too hard.
Soon enough, everyone is in colorful costumes, putting the final touches on their makeup, stretching, juggling and getting ready to go because it's showtime!
The curtain raises and I find myself in front of a full-house at the Blaisdell. With the light shining in my face, luckily I can't see the faces staring at me onstage.
I try not to show that I am nervous, even though my heart is beating fast and just do everything we did like we rehearsed back stage.
Everything goes smoothly and the crowd explodes into laughter and applause during my flip. Marco carries me off stage and then the real show begins.
25 talented performers from seven different countries dazzle and wow the crowd.
Of the breath-taking acts, a woman from Bulgaria hangs from the ceiling by her hair, one of the Mongolian contortionists wraps herself around an electric violinist and Marco and others jump on hands and feet through a giant jump-rope.
Many people dream of being a Cirque performer. I'm glad I got the chance to see what life is like on the big stage.
You can catch Cirque Dreams at the Blaisdell Concert Hall now through Sunday.
If you're in the Manhattan area, they'll be performing on Broadway June through August.