By: Arthur Nguyen dao
Why do we come to see a circus show? We want to be amazed. We want to be transported into another world. We want to see the sweat of physical abilities way beyond ours, the fragility of artists putting themselves in danger and we want to laugh out loud. This balance is the electrifying thrill of circus.
Back to the big top of Siem Reap. You have been sitting for an hour, holding your breath during circus stunts and smiling with emotions to the story young Cambodian artists are telling with their art. This is the end of the show and during the final speech artists are coming back on the stage and start adopting somewhat strange postures. This is the cool down.
Circus artists are pretty much like athletes: their body is their working tool and they tend to have rather short careers. Their health is put in danger during each performance so that being physically prepared is crucial.
The greater care they give to their bodies, the longer their career will last. More importantly, this will determine what they will be able to do after their circus career. The artists are all aware that performing circus is so demanding that their body will not be able to take it forever. For instance, Monny Rattanaksambath -aka Sambath, the central character of Eclipse- knows he will go back to his farming roots. On the contrary, Ung Kakada -the most frightened kid in Chills- started to work with the operations manager to ensure a smooth transition in his career from circus performer to circus manager.
But there is always an exception to the rule. As far as circus professionals are concerned, the only lucky performers who can perform for decades are indeed the clowns. A famous example is the French clown Achille Zavatta who performed for more than 60 years.
So, to be able to work beyond their circus career, they take care of their bodies. Cooling down, along with warming up, frame the hours of daily training that are necessary to create and maintain the level of their performance.
Of course, you do not see it because it is part of the training and the rehearsal, but they always start with warming up to prevent injuries. Basically, they put their body in “performing mode” as the warm up aims at increasing blood circulation. It warms the body through higher breathing rate and loosens the joint bindings for flexibility. Warming up is not only about the body, it is also about concentration. It is a mental preparation to the upcoming show.
A good example of the necessity of warming up is Bo Ratha. As he explains, he hurt his knee badly as he was 3m up in the air training on aerial straps. This accident incapacitated him for a year but now he walks normally and performs an amazing routine in the show Eclipse. “Warming up probably saved my knee, and now I warm up and cool down even more than before”.
Back to the end of the show. Performers are resuming to a normal level of physical activity with cool down movements and stretching postures. Cooling down is equally essential than warming up. It allows the body to slowly return to resting levels and prevents dizziness and fainting. They also massage each other to reduce muscle soreness but this usually waits for spectators to leave the big top after having a fun time taking pictures with them.
Phare performers work incredibly hard to create wonder every night. They combine confidence in their body, showmanship, acting and dedication to their craft to stay safe and, above all, to amaze the audience.
The performers are in the red big top behind the national museum everyday at 8:00PM.
Especially this month, we have the debut of a world-acclaimed show in Siem Reap: Sokha. It will be performed only two weeks this month so hurry and get your reservation RIGHT THERE.
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