Anuka’s energy radiates from her smile, an approachability that is unlike anyone else. Anuka quickly became my first friend in the city. We shared a love for dance, sushi and art and mixed emotions about the frat parties that seemed to occupy our free time on the weekend. Anuka isn’t the same as most 19 year olds, she has ten years of work experience under her belt. She worked with the performing company Cirque Du Soleil whilst growing up, making her a mature and flexible individual (in more ways than one!). I sat down with Anuka to hear more about what it was like to be part of such an exclusive company.
So Anuka, what was it like growing up with Cirque Du Soleil?
I consider myself a very lucky person to have had the opportunity to work with Cirque Du Soleil. Being part of a Cirque du Soleil was not only a once-in a lifetime experience, but it was also a wonderful chance to interact with skilled, like-minded individuals from all over the world from different backgrounds. I had a chance to work at a touring show called “Kooza” from age of 12 until I turned 16 ( 2010-2014). Where I met many amazing people who I am still in contact with today.
You spent the majority of your teen years traveling constantly and working/studying for your contortion career. How did you manage that and how did it all start?
Growing up as a kid I loved watching and imitating circus acrobats. My parents recognized my talent towards contortion at a young age and assisted me in pursuing my passion. At 8 years old I began training contortion at my local circus in Mongolia. My goal as a child at this time was to gain new skills and possibly increase my flexibility to display my skills to my classmates. However, after joining the contortion studio and being present in such a fast paced environment my goals immediately shifted. I had witnessed children from ages 9-10 performing one hand stands and pull ups effortlessly. Their skill set was impeccable and left me speechless.
How did this experience inspire you to take such a big step by joining an internationally known company, such as Cirque?
I discovered that children can travel to compete and perform after they had gained the expected experience and skill. I was unsure of what exactly Cirque du Soleil was back then, but the idea of traveling to various countries, exercising what I love to do while representing my home country was surreal to me. My new goal had been to improve as rapidly as possible so that I could accept all the opportunities presented to me.
How did you prepare for this new goal?
I trained consistently for 4 years, Monday through Friday after school to achieve my goals.
Wow, thats intense. What was that time in your life like?
The learning/training period was definitely anything but glamorous, in fact it was extremely challenging and a lot of tears were lost through the process of competitions. Self doubt had me considering quitting halfway through my training. However, thanks to my amazing coach and loving parents I learned to stick with my training regardless of the challenging times that I would be faced with.
Sounds like you had a pretty great support group. Are you glad you pursued this training period?
Looking back I am very glad that I did not quit because after my 4th year of training I got chosen for Cirque du Soleil. They were in need of three new girls to work together, so my coach took that opportunity to send them our audition tapes. I never expected that they would have chosen me because there are many other girls who have much more experience and skills in this field, making the industry overly competitive. I am still surprised to this day that I was accepted from such a large amount of talented participants.
For girls who want to pursue dreams..
DON’T GIVE UP! I know it sounds very cliche but in order to pursue your dreams, you have to work for it. I personally struggle with procrastination and just keeping myself motivated.
At the end of the day, you are doing this for yourself and your own good. Whenever I feel discouraged I just take a moment to go back to reflect my goals.