Touring With Cirque Du Soleil: Sita Bhuller
By Anna Robb
Photos By: Thierry Ballangé
What’s it like to be on tour with a circus show? How do people land a job working for Cirque du Soleil? What do they love and hate about being on tour and what are the challenges? TheatreArtLife caught up with some of the cast of TORUK – The First Flight to find out:
Sita Bhuller: Artist on TORUK
Where are you from and what was your journey that led you to the circus?
I am from London, England. I did gymnastics as a child and through my teenage years. Whilst at University, I started performing at LEGOLAND in an acrobatic stunt show. This was my introduction to performing. I finished studying whilst training hard on the side and then went directly to join the creation of The House of Dancing Water by Franco Dragone.
What is touring life like? What are the good parts? What are the not so good parts?
I love travelling, seeing beautiful nature in different parts of the world, feeling like my values and character are challenged by different cultures and places, meeting new people from different places, trying to understand their view on the world from where they stand (literally!). It is a great way to see the world, corners of countries (and the middle of nowhere) that aren’t on your bucket list but you find something beautiful and interesting places to see; the stuff you may not come across when you are being a tourist travelling top destinations.
In North America, I would always hire a car with a few friends on a day off and head out of the city, look for National Parks, small towns and more of a local scene.
As you travel, it becomes more apparent that everywhere can look the same on the surface; the same shops, structure of a grid city and of course living in hotel rooms that often look the same. Touring with an arena show is fast paced. There is no time to settle down anywhere or even unpack your suitcase; it doesn’t seem worth it when packing up again 5 days later!
What is your role/roles in the show and how have you trained to be in this role on TORUK – The First Flight?
I am a generalist and Artist Coach on TORUK – The First Flight. As Artist Coach, my role involves over seeing the movement, choreography and blocking of existing artists and acts, and new artists integrating. At the moment, I am helping create a format in the show to allow rotation and looking at show load for performers.
I also perform in different acts of the show. The Giant Loom; a mix of high bar, parkour and partner work, Tipani Poles; a twist on traditional Chinese poles using automation and setting the poles at different angles and configurations, The Wall; based on aerial dance on a harness, we perform acrobatics whilst climbing (and falling) a wall.
I often joke “I’m a jack of all trades, master of none”! I try to be versatile in my training and skill base. This allows me to be able to do most things thrown at me by a show or director.
How do you keep yourself performance ready?
During the week, we have regular rehearsals to maintain the show. Outside of this, I practise yoga (when I don’t feel exhausted!) or find a local studio to go to where ever we are. Sometimes people in the cast will find a local gymnastics centre to train at. During the day, I also try to do a bit of cardio, light weights and body weight training to maintain my strength and physique.
Where has been your favourite location on tour and why?
I really enjoyed California on the North American tour. I spent time hiking and camping in the National Parks. Yosemite was beautiful. Mexico was also one of my favourites. I had never travelled there before. Exploring outside the bustling cities, we came across local villages and beautiful scenery. It was also overwhelming to perform to a crowd of 11,000 each night!
If you could have any skill in the world, what would it be?
I wish I could pick up languages quickly and easily to be able to think in another language. I admire those who do!
Where will you be in 10 years?
I would like to have a home, probably not performing anymore, but still travelling regularly. It’s the golden question…. what do you do next? I’m not sure, I have ideas but creating a solid plan is hard for me. Maybe because in this industry, you look at life in phases of 6 months to 2 years max because of contracts. 10 years is far away! But I will unpack :-)
Whose role in TORUK – The First Flight do you respect the most and why?
The general artist. I admire all the performers on stage who aren’t in a spot light, who run all the time, fill in for obscure parts in the show, put extra bits in that haven’t been choreographed but adds flavour to the show.
What is an essential item in your suitcase on tour?
In North America, it was my Kettle. They seem to often only have coffee machines??? I must have tea in my room. I also have LED fairy lights (hotel lighting often sucks). Over the years, everything in my suitcase has become boring and practical: I have forgotten most of my fashion, all my clothes can be layered, worn in almost every climate!
Who do you miss the most while on tour?
I miss my family. FaceTime makes it a lot easier to keep in contact, but you still feel a distance as you aren’t in their day to day lives.
Who makes you laugh on tour and why?
Lydia Harper. Another Brit, our humour is alike and dressing room banter is an absolute must!
Describe the biggest challenge you have had on tour.
When you start in a company that is established and has a high reputation. Sometimes I have come across situations that don’t make sense to me but that’s just the way it is. The romantic ideal in my mind has sometimes been confronted with a different reality. Although you choose to be here (signing a contract), you often sign a very vague plan. Dates change, cities change, get cancelled, or you end up somewhere you never imagined. I have adapted to this challenge by not making any plans more than 1 month ahead, a difficult strategy when people outside this ‘touring bubble’ would like to know.