Juggler Shares His Experience On the Ice

For those who already have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, try to imagine ice skating while juggling. Fortunately, that feat has already been mastered by Jorge Petite so that you don’t have to. Jorge appears in the amazing traveling show, Crystal by Cirque du Soleil coming to Everett from April 10-14, 2019.

I got a chance to meet Jorge and Julie Desmarais, a publicist for the show, to discuss this unlikely combination of ice skating and acrobatics. For Jorge, his story started in 2002 when he took ups juggling as a hobby in Chile.

“I just wanted to learn how to juggle three balls and then I started learning tricks from videos I found on the internet and then it became a very serious hobby,” he tells me. “I think five years after that I started doing acts and started performing a little bit. Thirteen years after that I went to École Nationale De Cirque (National Circus School) in Quebec and then started my professional career.”

I saved him from the jokes that I heard others commenting on that he must not have done a lot of ice skating while growing up in Chile, which then got me thinking. I wondered what the most annoying question people ask him was.

“If I juggle chainsaws,” he says. “They always ask me that.”

So, while Jorge may not risk his life, he is still pretty much a daredevil.

Jorge learned how to ice skate during the creation of Crystal about a year and a half ago and about three months before the soft premiere in Lafayette, Louisiana. And he wasn’t the only one. The whole crew had to learn how to ice skate for the company’s 42nd creation.

Unlike traditional circus show, this production has a storyline about a girl named Crystal trying to find her place in this world and finds it by diving into her own world of imagination. She’s young, creative and misunderstood by others. Her journey begins at a frozen pond where she sees her reflection and then falls through the ice. There, she finds herself in an upside down world where her reflection leads her to path to awaken her own creativity.

“The show Crystal is about looking at things from fresh angles, peeking through the veneer of everyday life, reframing one’s daily reality to see what one might have missed. Sometimes the only way to appreciate things is to look at them sideways,” says the show’s press materials.

So, how did this whole concoction of mixing ice with acrobatics come about? Cirque Du Soleil is known for always pushing the boundaries and creating a show on ice seemed like the next natural step for the company.

“We had to do a bit of research to see how we could implement acrobatics with ice skating,” says Julie. “We also did some workshops with ice skating coaches like Kurt Browning as well as acrobatic coaches and we experimented a lot of new things to see how this could be really possible.”

Jorge is just one of 43 performers in the show which includes trapeze artists, BMX ice bike riders, a clown and a three-person live band. The cast is about half acrobats and half ice skaters coming together as an ensemble performance.

Despite what you might think, Julie assures me that Crystal will present the same quality show usually found under their big top. Everything from the stage to the lights travels with this show in 17 semi-truck trailers traveling to more areas so that more people can experience a Cirque du Soleil show. In total, there are 90 people from 20 different countries that travel with the show for 10-12 weeks at a time. They take two weeks off and then hit the road again for about 300 shows a year.

Crystal will be presented in Everett at the Angel of the Winds Arena for eight shows over the span of five days from April 10-14, 2019. Shows will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday before the hit the road again. Tickets start at $109 and can be purchase online. The arena is located at 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett, WA 98201.

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