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Sunday, June 16, 2024

How childhood playtime brought Hélène LeBlanc to Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo

Hélène LeBlanc found her passion for the trampoline at an early age and parlayed it into a career that now includes Cirque du Soleil's Corteo, which comes to Halifax's Scotiabank Centre from June 6 to 9.

“Quit jumping on the bed!” These are five words many will remember from their childhood. Hélène LeBlanc certainly does, but the difference is that she parlayed them into a career that included competitive trampoline jumping, various circus gigs and ultimately to Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo, which arrives in Halifax for six performances from June 6-9.

It’s really a celebration of life, with a lot of humour and beauty and it makes you feel so much emotion. – Hélène LeBlanc

“I had a very bouncy bed in my childhood, and I remember like it was yesterday how I was just jumping on it all the time,” says LeBlanc. “So my mother kept telling me I would break the bed and that she was tired of seeing me jump on it.”

But LeBlanc was not your typical seven-year-old. Instead, she took juvenile playtime to new heights. “I was doing sit drops and jumping really high,” she recalls. “And that is when my mom decided she would take me to trampoline classes.”

Finding her passion on the trampoline, LeBlanc eventually became a competitive trampoliner until age 15. From there, she joined various circus companies, ultimately joining one of the world’s most iconic modern circus groups. It is the adrenaline rush that has kept her on the trampoline over the years. “I just like the feeling of it every time,” she says. “It’s fun, but at the same time, you must be very disciplined and learn to control your adrenaline.”

Hélène LeBlanc found her passion for the trampoline at an early age and parlayed it into a career. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil's Corteo.
Hélène LeBlanc (above) found her passion for the trampoline at an early age and parlayed it into a career. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.

It is not LeBlanc’s first time with Cirque du Soleil, having performed at a special event with the company in 2018, but Corteo would be her first full show with the Montreal-based organization.

Based on her love for the trampoline, it will be no surprise that LeBlanc performs in Corteo‘s “bouncing beds.” In this act, she joins five other artists as they jump on two 600-pound beds that move on rotating platforms.

Despite LeBlanc’s training and previous circus work, LeBlanc says the most significant difference in joining Cirque du Soleil is their desire for its artists to succeed.

“They want you to feel comfortable, and if you need to learn some skills, they will take the time, schedule more training, and work with you to achieve those goals, which is really important if you want to grow as an athlete and an artist,” she says.

Along with ensuring each artist’s success, LeBlanc says the camaraderie among the artists and team has been the best part of joining Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo. “It’s so much like a family,” she says. “There’s always something happening that is unpredicted, but then you’re laughing about it when you go home, and when you look back at the day, you realize it was such a great time.”

Flying high: six artists jump on two 600-pound beds that move on rotating platforms in Cirque du Soleil's Corteo. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil's Corteo.
Flying high: six artists jump on two 600-pound beds that move on rotating platforms in Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.

Just over six months into her time as a cast member in Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo, LeBlanc says the show’s biggest draw is the emotions it conjures for its audiences. “There is something for everyone,” she says. “For the parents, children, and people not necessarily into the circus, there’s just so much to discover and a beautiful story to learn about.”

An Italian word meaning cortège or procession, Corteo is the story of a clown who pictures his funeral in a carnival atmosphere and revisits moments in his life through various acrobatic and comedy acts within the circus setting where he spent his life.

“We can see what happened in his life, but it’s up to the audience to decide if it’s really happening or if it’s more of a dream,” says LeBlanc. “It’s really a celebration of life, with a lot of humour and beauty and it makes you feel so much emotion.”

Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo plays at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax from June 6 to 9. For tickets and information, visit scotiabank-centre.com.

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