At Cirque du Soleil, 2 acrobats juggle parenthood

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Dionne studied modern ballet and jazz as a youth and was trained at The Dance School of Quebec, specializing in modern dance. She also studied at the National Circus School, but never overlapped with her future partner.

They met in “Corteo,” which toured Canada, the U.S., Japan and Russia. They were friends for two years before it turned into romance. Cirque didn’t discourage it since both were artists and there was no imbalance of power. Both say Cirque is a great place to work, with insurance, sick days and parental leave offered.

Romances in Cirque companies are not unusual since performers and crew spend all their time together, especially on tour. Some Cirque acts also include whole families. “It’s work, it’s life, it’s family _ it’s everything all at once,” says Robert.

Emile was born close to midnight on Dec. 27, 2010, but Robert couldn’t linger too long over the newborn: He had two shows to perform the next day. By the next New Year’s Day, Emile was walking; his mother went back to performing after nine months.

New dad Robert gave up the teeterboard, which in Cirque is not the simple seesaw you find in playgrounds. In the circus, it’s a macho duel among performers who reach ridiculous heights as they catapult from a large board. “I was used to it and everything but sometimes it was difficult with only four hours of sleep,” explains Robert.

Might little Emile have inherited some acrobatic genes from his parents, both lean and muscular? “He’s got the energy,” says his mother, with a laugh. Emile is already interested in basic acrobatics and does rolls and the splits. He enjoys watching his parents’ shows and he juggles at home.

“We’re not pushing. I don’t think we will. If he wants to follow us, that’s fine,” says Robert, pulling Emile into his arms. His mother agrees: “He might want to be an accountant. Who knows?”

But even as she says this, the boy uses his father’s chest as a climbing wall.

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Online:

http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/Zarkana

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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