Cirque du Soleil Workshop: Week One

What a CRAZY week! We just finished week one of the Cirque du Soleil workshop up in Canada! It was an amazing week!

Again, I can’t tell you a ton about what we’re doing in our training sessions but I can break it down:

Sunday (the day I arrived):

I had a flight out at 6:05am to Philly and connection from Philly to Montreal so I should have arrived at 9am-ish in Montreal. We had a little bit of a delay on the tarmac due to weather in Philly so I didn’t get to Montreal until 10:30am but nothing was pressing when I got here so I wasn’t too concerned. I went through customs, got my work visa, picked up my luggage, got in a cab and headed to the Artist Residence which is right across the street from the Cirque du Soleil Headquarters!

I knew Quebec was French-Canadian but I don’t think I really prepared my mind in that sense. All of the street signs and store fronts we’re in French…I quickly decided I was going to learn some French words this month! It was all going to smoothly. After arriving at the residence, my instructions were to ring to doorbell and someone will greet you, give you your room key and check you in…but no one was in the building to let me in. I tried walking around to see if there was anyone inside to let me in instead of standing out on the sidewalk…no one. I ended up turning my cell phone data on (I was planning to just use wi-fi while up here but I couldn’t get signed onto the residence wi-fi because I didn’t have any of my check in information) and called my point person to ask what to do. She told me to walk across the street to HQ and get a temporary pass. So I did, the guard set me up and told me what room I was in. I went back over to the residence building and unpacked. About an hour later, I was called down to the front desk to checked in, officially getting my residence packet…wifi username and password included 🙂

The rest of the day was spent unpacking with a run to the grocery store about 4-5 blocks away to grab some essectials…peanut butter obviously being top on my list (my obsession). I get into the supermarket, and again everything was in French. But if I looked close enough, right below, in tiny letters, WAS ENGLISH! So I wasn’t completely lost! I did a pretty good job navigating around and collecting essentials, I even signed up for their value card so now I get points/discounts 🙂 Such a savvy shopper, thanks mom!

Successful first day!

Day 1 of the Workshop: 

First day of school, First day of school, First day of school!! I was so very excited to get in there, find out what we were doing, see the apparatus, and meet everyone! The first thing on the agenda was the physical evaluation. In order to start working, an athletic trainer goes through range of motion, previous injuries, medical eval etc. to clear you to train. If you do not pass the eval, which does happen sometimes, you unfortunately cannot participate in the workshop…but no need to worry, I PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS! The AT was actually surprised how well my body has been maintained considering I’ve been a gymnast my entire life. The only thing I need to work on are my hips. Apparently the hip joints are a little farther forward in the socket than normal but easily fixable with strength, conditioning, and maintenance protocols. We all need to schedule at least one training session a week with one of the AT’s so that wasn’t going to be a problem.

We had corralled the group participating in the workshop and met everyone as we were in and out of our evaluations. Next steps were finding out what we were actually doing there! We walked into the studio where we would be practicing…and there it was…

{use your imagination}

We met the coaches, learned safely protocols, and finally got to play! Essentially, I will be ‘playing’ for the next four weeks! How cool is that!

We were provided lunch the first day in order to collect all the members of the workshop including coaches, riggers, and safety instructors to tell us a little more about the vision of what we were going to be doing.

Everyone had passed their eval so after lunch we went into the afternoon training session to get used to the equipment and play some more! At the end of the session, we were dismissed and that was the end of the first day!


Onto day 2! Because they had to adjust the equipment, we actually had the morning session off! So Anna, Olivia and I rented bikes from the front desk at HQ and rode around our neighborhood. HQ isn’t necessarily in the best part of Montreal (we were advised to not walk around at night by ourselves and the guys should be careful wearing red or blue because those colors are associated with gangs…) so we headed a little south, towards downtown and found a coffee shop where we sat and talked.

As the time got closer to afternoon session, we headed back to HQ to return our bikes. After parking the bikes out front, we noticed the abundance of fresh veggies growing in the gardens, my favorite! I remember our point person saying we were welcome to the garden vegetables so we went to town picking! Olivia picked a squash the size of her head and I got two summer zucchini and a fist sized tomato, we thought we won the jackpot! …Come to find out the next day, we aren’t allowed to do that anymore. The veggies are reserved for the cafeteria kitchen so no more veggies for us :'(.

The afternoon session went smoother because we had a better idea of what we should be creating/doing with the equipment, so we loosened up and had some fun! Everyday is structured the same unless we have an additional meeting:

Warm Up

Morning Session


Warm Up

Afternoon Session

So day 2 was just getting more comfortable and communicating with each other about what works or what doesn’t work. At this point, my hands were loving it…{sarcasm}…I ended day 2 with some pretty raw feeling hands



As a group, we decided after two successful days of training, we deserved tacos! So we all went out to a good Mexican restaurant Anna had been to in our neighborhood and enjoyed the night.


We started off day 3 with a taxation meeting, making sure we knew the taxes being taken out of our pay and what we need to do come filing season, fun stuff…then we had to officially sign our contracts. We had e-signed them but Cirque likes to have a hard copy. Onto morning session, lunch and afternoon session.

Hand update: actually not too bad



Day 4 was the first uninterrupted full day of working morning and afternoon sessions. The great thing about our lunch is it’s an hour and a half break from 12-1:30. That gives us enough time to go to the cafe and eat or go back to our residence across the street and lay down for a bit. It’s a nice break in the middle of the working day because the work is pretty physically demanding.

At the end of the afternoon session, I tweaked my shoulder a little and went to go see physio for some ice and rehab, all part of the job! To stay healthy and strong the plan is to continue with good maintenance and not be afraid to speak up because they are more than willing to help!


Our first Friday session of the workshop! The equipment went through some more changes so we were essentially starting new again. Part of the process for the coaches is actually to not coaching us at all. They watch how different types of athletes adapt to the equipment with their own technique, that will tell them who they can recruit and train for this act.

During the week, one of the guy’s girlfriend had popped in a few times to watch the training session. She was actually asked if she would like to sign a release form and join training for the morning, pretty cool! She ended up doing the morning and afternoon sessions and by the end  of the day she was giving the coaches a different technique to consider. She was then offered a position as part of the workshop! That’s the way Cirque works, no one knows why they do what they do and schedules can change very quickly so a key quality to have and remember is to always stay adaptable.

An unexpected announcement occurred before the end of Friday’s training session. One of the girls, who has very specific skills and is excellent as what she does, was actually let go from the workshop. Not because of anything she did but because the coaches believed they had gained all of the knowledge they needed from her skill set and technique. It serves as a reminder for me to always stay relevant because this is the nature of the business!

What a crazy week to start!! Some very fun and exciting things happening and I cannot wait to continue next week! The weekend adventures will be next on the posting list 🙂

Xx, Betsy



2 thoughts on “Cirque du Soleil Workshop: Week One

  1. Love hearing about your week Bets! Thinking about you so often and how much fun you’re having!! Love you! Aunt Sarah

  2. I love reading these blogs!!!! It sounds so exciting and mysterious!!!! I know you are working your butt off.. Have fun and look forward to more blogs.

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