want to perform for Cirque du Soleil?

Rick McCharles

images.jpg“Artists” who want to be hired by Cirque du Soleil, must apply to attend audition. This means putting together a resumé and video of what you can do.

Cirque is looking for ultra-fit, talented athletes from all acrobatic disciplines.

If you are one of the lucky ones “hired” from audition, you travel to Montreal to train at their state-of-the-art facilities. I’ve been there many times. It’s a fantastic place.

For the first time, however, I stayed at the Cirque apartments directly opposite the campus.


This gave me a glimpse of the lifestyle of the young people training there. It’s a busy day filled with sessions that may include dance, theatre, trampoline, tumbling, circus acts and much, much more.

The residence offers computers, recreation, movie nights, video games and more. Everything you need is close. The vibe is like an international youth hostel.

The first language is French but most things are translated to English, Russian and sometimes Spanish.

I feel it’s a wonderful life experience just to train in Montreal — after which you may or may not get hired for one of the 13 Cirque du Soleil troupes.

Employment opportunities are good. Cirque is adding about one show each year to their line-up.

Coaches who have athletes who might be interested can email Rick McCharles for more information.

Tom Cruise – back flip?

Here is the evidence.

Tom visited back stage some of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas. At Ka, performing gymnast Uldi (Zoltán Miklós) Hajdu convinced him it was safe to go for a somersault.

Those action stars really can do their own stunts!

Uldi is one of the stars of the award winning Hungarian film White Palms, currently showing at the Toronto Film Festival.


movie clip of Tom’s flip (.wmv format)

The clip is hosted on the film site for White Palms.

This is the best gymnastics movie that you have never seen. (Unless you live in Hungary.)

Hopefully they will get a distribution deal with this kind of celebrity Film Festival attention.

straight body cast handstand on bars

Rick McCharles

ubar8.gifThis skill frustrates almost every female gymnast. Even at the highest levels of competition many competitors are deducted.

What’s a coach to do?

My philosophy is to compete only straddle-up cast handstand. Some world and Olympic champions have avoided straight body casts. This is the best strategy for the vast majority of competitors.

Every gym has athletes who tell me, “I can’t do straddle cast.” That is nonsense, of course, regardless of flexibility. They simply haven’t done enough of these drills.

up-swing.jpgStraight body cast is normally only appropriate for short, light girls who have terrific “planche” strength. Even those kids will normally show this position on the upswing. (A photo still from the fantastic Gymnastics Revolution database of skills.)

Young gymnasts sometimes pick up the skill easily only to later have trouble, after they grow taller.

If you insist on training straight body cast with girls, my advice is to train a series of kip to straight body casts on a safety straps bar. And work the planche position seriously.

More advice from Skills and Drills, Karen Goeller, and Tulsa World of Gymnastics.

Men’s coaches, no worries. We hardly consider this a skill. It is far easier on the men’s bar.

book – gymnastics – Leonid Arkaev

Coach Mack gives a strong recommendation for How to Create Champions: The Theory and Methodology of Training Top-Class Gymnasts (Hardcover – Oct 2004):

Awesome book. Not for beginners. A background in biomechanics, kinesiology, helpful.

The Russian authors are N. G. Suchilin and L. I. Arkaev. Arkaev is oft called the most successful gymnastics coach in history, many years the Russian and Soviet National coach. He has finally retired — presumably to write this book.

Arkaev in a 1999 interview was asked to name the best ever Soviet athetes. He replied, “Dina Kochetkova and Nikolai Andrianov”.

How to Create Champions: The Theory and Methodology of Training Top-Class Gymnasts

language translation – now on this site

Just added a small widget (bottom of right hand side navigation) which can translate this page into 8 different languages.

Translations between European languages are surprisingly good. But to and from Asian characters is more hilarious than helpful.

Babel Fish is a web-based application developed by AltaVista (now Yahoo!) which machine translates text or web pages from one of several languages into another.

It takes its name from the Babel fish, a fictional animal used for instantaneous language translation in Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. …

Babel Fish (website) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

unfair competitions

clip_image002_000.gif Unfair competitions are entrenched.

For example, the Olympics. I am always irked looking at the table of medals published in every newspaper.

A far more just comparison is medal tally by population. For Athens 2004 the winners were:


Even more impressive, perhaps, are the winners of the medal tally by gross domestic product (GDP):


Recently I was working with athletes training for a competition called Canada Winter Games. The tiny Province of PEI (pop. 140,000) must field a team to compete against Ontario (pop. 12,800,000). Ontario has 90 times more people to draw from.

Is that fair? Is it smart athlete development? Is money being spent wisely?

Obviously not.

The only argument for a competition this unfair is that it somehow encourages the regions of the country with less population to develop their gymnastics program. I don’t buy that argument.

Needless to say the competitive rules for this competition are entirely wrong for PEI. Those kids are forced to compete above their ability level.

(I should mention that in Canada we also have fair competitions where all eligible competitors have an equal chance. The first I would name is called Elite Canada, the National Team Selection meet.)

What about your region? Do you attend unfair competitions?

(Leave a comment below.)

video – David Elsewhere – dance

You’ve probably seen David “Elsewhere” Bernal — perhaps in a Volkswagon commercial where he dances Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly’s face.

David’s 2001 performance at the Korean-American talent show Kollaboration was one of the first big viral videos to sweep the internet.

The video features dance styles called popping and liquiding. Many assume that this clip has been digitally enhanced. No way. This is for real.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books – Roland Carrasco

I was reminded of the wonderful Roland Carrasco books published long ago in French by Vigot Editions, Paris. (Their website no longer lists Carrasco’s titles.)

I have Gymnastique aux agrès, still listed but not available from Amazon France. It is great and still useful if you cannot read French. The best bits are excellent diagrams.


I have not seen a second Carrasco book listed: Gymnastique des 3 à 7 ans : Une approche nouvelle pour des apprentissages illimités.

Do you know where to get your hands on used copies of these two and his other publications? If so, leave a comment below.