Vladik Miagkostoupov: Juggler Extraordinaire at Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Dralion’ by Carolyn Kelemen

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Juggling is a way of life for “Cirque” star

Vladik Miagkostupov is the Mikhail Baryshnikov of juggling. With stylized choreography that makes the most of his incredible flexibility, this 28-year-old artist incorporates a fast-paced performance with more than a hint of ballet. And like Misha, Vlad was born in the former Soviet Union – Baryshnikov in Latvia and Miagkostupov in the Ukraine. Both men are adorable, have trained in classical Russian ballet, can beat their feet fast and furious, and can capture an audience quicker than you can say either of their names.

The juggler treated me and other members of the media to an excerpt from Dralion at the Hotel Monaco press preview in preparation for the show’s arrival in Baltimore later this month. He demonstrated a lot more skill than throwing and catching seven balls in one hand.

Vladik Miagkostupov. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

Following the short performance, he spoke to reporters who were impressed with the mysterious guest, dressed in his Dralion costume, a mix of paint, satin, and lots of sparkle.

“I moved to Las Vegas at a young age and did all the things American boys do like play soccer and try things a bit risky,” he told us. “I think all kids should try things…new art, new music, defy gravity.” He was born into a creative family – both parents were part of the Moscow Circus – and his professional career started at the age of nine. Since the, he has performed in more than 30 countries, including a stint at the famous Lido de Paris in France, and has won several awards including the gold medal in Paris at the Cirque de Demain competition.

Vladik Miagkostupov did not run away to join the circus. Cirque du Soleil came to him. A Cirque producer saw him at the competition and then invited him to send a video. He joined Cirque du Soleil in 2003 as a performer in Solstrom, then Dralion on tour in 2006. when Dralion returns to North American in its Arena tour, we will see not just an ordinary juggling performance but also a modern mix of dance and acrobatics.

Cirque du Soleil remains a unique concept, both in performance art circles and in circus craft. There are no dancing bears here, though there are clowns who, at times, represent the animal kingdom or, perhaps, life forms in other universes. The performers are all human and each exhibits a superhuman ability at acrobatic feats and the ability to fill spectators with awe.

Cirque du Soleil now rules in three separate domains. There are the traditional blue and yellow tent presentations, the residential extravaganzas popular in Las Vegas, and the touring arena shows like Dralion, which started out under the grand chapiteau but was recently converted to arenas. This production may boast the best dancers.

Vladik Miagkostupov. Photo by Karl Anderson/HereHouston.com

Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion (prounounced Drah-lee-on) opens at the 1st Mariner Arena – 201 West Baltimore Street, in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. with six additional performances through Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. Purchase tickets here.

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Vladik Miagkostupov’s website.