Spanish aerial pole artist, acrobat, dancer, Saulo Sarmiento will be starring in Madame Zingara’s latest show “The Celebration” that opened on Cape Town’s Grand Parade on 7 July and at Montecasino in Johannesburg on 4 November. Madame Zingara invites us to celebrate her 15th year of magic. Thirty five highly skilled artists from across the globe unite to push the boundaries of dinner cirque theatre in a three-storey handcrafted mirrored palace called the Queen of Flanders. The night promises to be electrifying with Cathy Specific as hostess for the show; you will remember her as Dr Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show at The Fugard Theatre last year. Mind blowing pyrotechnics, advanced digital sound, intelligent lighting have also been added to the theatrics, taking the production to incredible new heights.
Your imagination is also bound to soar to even greater heights with Saulo’s jaw-dropping aerial dexterity bearing you up defying gravity and reason. I caught up with this phenomenal artist to explore some of his career anchors and flights of fancy.
2000: Began artistic life with rigorous training as gymnast
2005: Moved to Madrid for further training and work
2009: Moved to Paris to work with FARFADAIS (enabled global travel)
2011: Graduated in Physical Education from the Complutense University of Madrid
2011: Won prestigious French pole dance competition
2011: Joined House of Dancing Water troupe (show by Franco Dragone, Macao)
2012: Won ‘Pole Art’ contest in Helsinki
2014: Won bronze medal at Cirque de Demain
2014: Won Cirque du Soleil prize for innovation & originality
2014: Won knock d’or Festival international de Cirque Vaudreuil-Dorion
2014: Won Swiss Pole best artist, Zurich, Switzerland
2015: Awarded Silver Star at the Young Stage internal circus festival, Basel, Switzerland
Do you come from a family of performers/artists? What discipline did you gain from them that serve as the pillars of your success?
Actually I am the only artist in my family, my mom works in a hospital and my dad is a computer technician. I have a strong base in gymnastics and dance, and that base gave me all that I need to create and grow as a circus artist – but I’ve still got a long way to go.
How did you come to settle on the aerial pole as your gymnastic expression? What is it about that form that gets you on stage every night?
One never knows how things will end up. I started as a gymnast, but I really don’t like competitions. I then moved to a dance company, but it wasn’t risky enough for me, so I finally decided to go to a circus company by an audition, and there, I found many things to do, especially the chinese pole and pole dance, where I discovered my confidence. One day, I envisioned a flying pole, since I love to do aerial stunts, and this is how the flying/aerial pole was born!
Check out Saulo’s impressive reel
What are the most exciting parts of your job? And what are the tough parts?
When talking with a good friend of mine, I realized that I do this job because of all this job gives me, for example, traveling around the world, meeting new people and encountering new cultures. But that is also the things that can make my job so difficult, as its really difficult to have a personal life, a home, and so forth. The worst is to be away for a long time from friends and family, and not forgetting my dog … keeping your body fit for each performance isn’t easy either, especially with very few breaks between shows and jobs.
Your professional life requires a lot of travel, not long do you find yourself in a new place before you have to move on. What are the stabilising forces in your life that helps you to remain grounded?
Yes! Traveling, from one contract to the next, from one continent to another. Normally I only take short contracts, but this is the first time that I accepted a long contract, which is good as I have the chance to have a “normal” life. I try not to lose my connection with my people – it is certainly easier today with internet and social media, but still. Also, it’s important to transform your hotel room into your own space, like a home, and build routine into your day, like going to the gym or the supermarket, etc.
Does being part of other people’s companies/shows mean that artistic freedom is lost? Do you ever foresee yourself setting out on your own being able to create your own stories?
That’s a hard question. I’m sure some people will think differently about this, but for me being part of a company gives me the chance to learn a lot; but there are some artists who prefer to set up their own company from the start so that they can do what they want. Personally, I reckon that as much insights you can draw from the world, as much your mind is open, you can become a better creative.
For sure, my idea is to grow as a creative, creating a GOOD show is extremely difficult, but not impossible. I started this year to teach people to do my act, as well as other acts, this is already a forward thinking step to my career. Afterall, I can’t keep doing what I am doing now infinitum, the body has its limits.
Is there a point in your career when you feel you would have ‘made it’?
One of my biggest dreams was to perform with Cirque du Soleil, the day I completed the contract with them, I cried. Since I was13 years old, I dreamt of that. But of course I have further aspirations and goals to realise!
In personal life, I am buying my first home in Barcelona, and as a professional, my next step is to start to teach people and commission them to work with companies. Afterwards I would like to create as a choreographer, artistic director, etc. I may even create a new act for a show next year as well.
Rocking it out at Cirque du Soleil
That’s all folks, Alexis Pillay signing out.