You don’t get to become a Cirque de Soleil performer without a few lucky breaks. Just ask trampoline acrobat Dmytro Negodin. Between his young life in the Ukraine and travelling the world with the Cirque’s Dralion, some auspicious events had to transpire.
The first break came in his childhood. As a boy of seven in Kharkov, Ukraine, Dmytro was shown the trampoline by his mother and was enthralled. He was already interested in gymnastics and the trampoline solidified this passion. Right then, a gymnastics coach who’d been watching the mother and son decided to take Dmytro on. “I don’t know how that happened,” Dmytro says. “But I was good at it.”
Under the coach’s wing Dmytro steadily improved his technique. From age seven to 13, he trained for up to two hours a day. At 14, Dmytro stepped up his training to 20 hours a week and became qualified to compete at an international level. At this point,
he entered and placed in such competitions as the International Tournir, and the Junior European championships, as well as competing in the Ukrainian championships.
It was always important to Dmytro to get an education while he pursued his passion, and at age 21 he graduated from the sports and physical culture program at the University of Kharkov.
Dmytro was performing in Malaysia from 2003 to 2004, and it was there he auditioned for Cirque de Soleil. Cirque de Soleil scouts, who travel the world searching for talent, were impressed, and he was selected for general training in Montreal in 2005. Two years later, Cirque du Soleil invited Dmytro to join the cast of Dralion, the Montreal Cirque’s brilliant original production combining Chinese acrobatic arts with the company’s electrifying acrobatic style.
It was a life-changing opportunity for Dmytro and a privilege granted few. Thousands of talented people are on the Cirque de Soleil roster and have never been called. “They keep you on file, and if you fit a certain profile for a certain show, they call you,” he says. He has been touring the world with the show ever since. Dmytro views this training as a huge growing experience. He also became a paid performer, earning a salary in addition to his Montreal room and board.
Once in the troupe, every Cirque performer undergoes training in artistic expression, acting and movement. Of course, a key element in the acrobat’s routine is dedicated to keeping him in peak physical form. Every day Dmytro does a workout focused on his legs, neck and back, as well as a cardio routine. “Being in shape is everything,” he says. “Even the toughest stunts are within reach if you keep up your workout.”
In their vibrantly coloured costumes, Dmytro and his fellow trampoline athletes climb the walls, using the set’s futuristic
backdrop as both a diving board and landing pad. A trampoline acrobat, Dmytro works at tight angles to the onstage landscapes, performing rolls and tumbles, as well as reaching unbelievable heights. The artistic standard of the Cirque de Soleil assert themselves in Dmytro’s every body movement.
Trampoline acrobatics are a key fixture of the Dralion show, and Dmytro feels comfortably at home on the stage. Now 29, he hopes to keep performing as long as his body will let him. That could mean another decade or so of grueling acrobatics for the Ukraine-born youth: the oldest acrobat currently in the Dralion troupe is 37 years old. But when he is ready to abandon the stage, Dmytro hopes for a future in coaching. “I want to teach young kids how to be good enough for the Olympics,” he says. Trampoline gymnastics became an official Olympic sport in 2000.
The product the Cirque offers has always been unique, and this hugely innovative company has been able to thrive on every continent except Antarctica, with big tops and arenas playing host. Dmytro is deeply appreciative of the talent around him. He also has confidence in his own skills, an indication of the supportive environment that has been created within the Cirque. “We’re all friends here,” he smiles.