Jacqui Guimond never dreamed she’d end up in a Cirque du Soleil production. After graduating from the University of Arizona’s ballet-oriented dance program, she performed with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and contemporary ballet company David Taylor Dance Theatre in Colorado. Then last year, on a whim, she auditioned for Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles LOVE—“more for the experience than anything else,” she says—and, to her surprise, landed a spot as a dancer.
Curious, Guimond embarked on an adventure performing with LOVE in Las Vegas. “It’s mostly a street dance show, with a lot of hip hop and breakdancing, and I end up doing a little bit of everything,” she says. “It’s very eclectic and cool, though there isn’t much ballet involved. At one point, I’m in big rainboots doing gumbo, a body percussion dance from South Africa!”
Guimond has worked hard to keep up her classical technique. She teaches a weekly ballet class for the Cirque team—“Everyone from break dancers to acrobats takes it”—and fits in classes at nearby Nevada Ballet Theatre whenever she can. “In a repetitive show like this, it’s easy for your body to get out of whack,” Guimond explains. “Ballet keeps you aligned so that you’re less likely to get injured. Plus, in LOVE the stage is moving up and down and there’s fog and crazy lights. It’s helpful to have that strong ballet center to keep you balanced.”
Would she recommend the Cirque experience to other ballet dancers? “Absolutely,” she says. “The company is amazing—world-renowned—and to be a part of that is very special.”