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Friday, July 27, 2012


The Guy in the Clown Nose? He’s an Olympian

When their bodies no longer permit competition, growing ranks of Olympians are choosing to run off with the circus, specifically Cirque du Soleil.
By Geoffrey A. Fowler
from: wsj.com
July 26, 2012
Terry Bartlett is a world-class gymnast who leapt, tumbled and swung for the glory of Great Britain in three Olympic Games.
Today, he is also a world-class clown. Ten times a week, he dons a red nose and floppy shoes to elicit chuckles at “O,” a Las Vegas water-themed circus run by Cirque du Soleil.
“It’s better than having a real job,” says the 48-year-old Bartlett.
When their bodies no longer permit competition, growing ranks of Olympians are choosing to run off with the circus. Over the past decade, Cirque du Soleil has established one of the sporting world’s most successful employment channels for elite athletes with few post-competition career options. Beyond coaching and modeling, there are few jobs that require the skills of gymnasts, divers and synchronized swimmers.
Some 50 current and former Cirque performers have competed at the Olympics, including stars from the 2008 Games like American gymnastics silver medalist Raj Bhavsar and 24-year-old American synchronized swimmer Christina Jones. The “O” show where Bartlett performs has hired nine Olympians.
Cirque, of course, is no ordinary elephants-and-carnies circus. Over 28 years, the Montreal-based company has built a business out of blending traditional acrobatic acts with Vegas-style theater—and has annual revenue of close to $1 billion.
Olympians provide a level of skill and work ethic that have become central to Cirque’s high-gloss productions. “To create an Olympian takes at least 12 years of training and preparation. Cirque is using that to our advantage,” says casting director Fabrice Becker, a French freestyle skier who won gold in the 1992 Games in a demonstration event for ski ballet.
Circus work appeals to Olympians because they often have difficulty transitioning from sports back to normal life. “Even some of the people who medal in a sport can’t necessarily make a living out of it,” Becker says.
read more:
http://stream.wsj.com/story/london-olympics-2012/SS-2-13789/SS-2-36916/



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