Meet Irina Akimova. She’s married to Andrey and is mum to Veronica, 3. Oh, and she’s also just a Cirque du Soliel circus performer who travels all around the world with her hula hoops. Cool factor: Ten out of TEN! Cirque du Soliel’s latest show, Kooza, hits Brisbane from November 24 to December 18.



Tell us about your role in Cirque du Soleil?

My current role in the show is that of the so called “underground queen”. I perform a hula-hoop manipulation act. My character is a bit dark, but at the same time very elegant and strong. She tries to hypnotize the Trickster (leading character) by spinning the hoops and twirling around.

Tell us about the path you took to getting into Cirque du Soleil?

The path was quite straightforward, I had to become the best in the world at what I do to join Cirque du Soleil! There is no other way. Prior to joining Cirque, I shaped my skills on different stages around the world from Asia to Europe to the Middle East to the US. I always dreamed about performing for this company. And the hard work paid off.

What have been your career highlights so far?

There have been many and most of them have been with Cirque du Soleil. From performing in front of and for His Royal Highness Prince Charles during his visit to Montreal, I’ve also performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London, Madison Square Garden in New York, the O2 arena and the MGM in Vegas in front of more than 20,000 people every night for over four years. Another quite memorable moment in my career was performing at the Jerry Lewis Telethon in Las Vegas raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A-list celebrities would answer the calls and would talk to callers accepting donations.



irinaakimova_hoopsWhat time does a typical day start for you?

Being a parent means waking up early. My day starts quite early, around 7-7.30am and I go to sleep around 1am.

What does a typical day involve?

I always try to make my day as rich and full of emotion as possible. It starts with little rituals with my daughter. Then it’s gym time in the morning and then off to explore the city. Even on two-show days, we go sightseeing. We love parks, nature and museums. Then I have training in the afternoon and two fabulous shows at night.

If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?

Sleep. Rest is a privilege!



I believe you take your 3-year-old daughter on tour with you. How do you juggle her care and education needs while on tour and working?

My daughter always travels with me. It’s definitely not an easy task. To give my daughter the best possible education is critical for me and that’s why I always try to schedule all kinds of classes and activities for her, regardless of where I am. While in Australia my daughter will go to a fantastic place to study and be with other kids. I’m very proud of how advanced she is. Being surrounded by people from different countries gives her an advantage in a way. She is already speaking two languages (Russian and English) and now learning Portuguese. She is 3 years old but she has already visited more than 20 countries – more than some people in a lifetime!

When you are not on tour, what do you like to do for fun as a family?

Go to places. Even when on a break, as a family we like to be active and we spend most of the day outside. We love biking, skiing, swimming and all sorts of fun activities.

What issues are you facing with your children right now?

The biggest issue for me right now is simply not being with her while I’m away at work.

Do your children have extracurricular interests? What are they? Will they follow in their mum’s footsteps and into the circus one day?!

Veronika has quite a wide range of interests, she loves nature and animals as well as creating art pieces from nothing. I can see an architect in her. She is not that much into acrobatics yet. She is more into the creative process. Maybe later, she will show signs of acrobatic love. We will definitely not push her towards becoming a circus performer, it’s a choice that she will have to make by herself. As a parent, my duty is to show her as many possible options, directions and interests that will influence her in the future. And if one day she tells us that she wants to run away with the circus like her parents, we will respect her choice and will support her.



What is your favourite thing to do when you get a chance to go on a date night with your partner?

My husband is an agent/producer and also has a very intense schedule travelling the world. We are often apart or surrounded by people so going out for the night just the two of us is a treat. The ideal night out is to go to a restaurant, have a glass of good red wine and then see a romantic movie.

Which is your favourite city in the world and why?

Honestly I do not have one place which I enjoy the most. To me, cities represent memories I’ve experienced when I was there. Throughout my years with Cirque du Soleil I have been lucky to visit most of the countries on earth and most of them I would visit again. I love Miami as my daughter was born there. I love Moscow as it is my home. I love Paris and Rome for their gorgeous architecture and Japan for its culture. And I cannot wait to explore Australia and see what it has to offer and maybe one day when somebody will ask me this question again I will without doubt answer: Australia!

Where do you go to holiday?

Somewhere where it is warm, sunny and close to water. Our favourite spots so far are Miami, Rio, the South of France and Lake Como in Italy.



What do you like to do when you get a night out with your girlfriends?

Typical girls stuff! It starts with a little shopping and ends with dancing throughout the night.

What is your best beauty tip for busy working mums?

Have as much quality sleep as possible. It’s not the length that matters but the quality.

Favourite online store?

I mostly use well-known stores like Amazon and EBay. I find it so convenient and time saving. But my true weakness is interior design stores.



What’s your one key parenting tip?

I often find it difficult not to interrupt my child and I believe that being patient with a child is very important. Take an extra minute to listen to or observe his/her interests.

Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?

The balance comes from love and passion for what you do in life. Love life and love your work. I will quote Confucius: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

How do you stay motivated in your career?

People, audiences, sincere smiles and applause – all of that motivates me.


Visit www.cirquedusoliel.com



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