Inspiring kids to be the BEST

The first time I ever thought of being a writer I was about 8 years old, I had just finished reading Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and couldn't believe that a book had made me feel something for characters. Written from the point of view of the horse I actually felt sorry for the horse and some of the things I read in that book stayed with me. I was inspired to write, to become a writer when I grew up, and I spent the rest of my life (to date) wanting to be a writer.

That first experience (that I can remember) of good writing, and feeling something when reading a book, inspired me to work hard at my writing, to keep going even though I thought I was rubbish. I wanted to be the BEST writer, not just someone who wrote but someone who wrote amazing things. I still do. 

A pen, a notebook, and a steaming cup of tea, sit on a bed with rumpled covers.


What's the point of all this I hear you ask. Well the point is it's important to give our children inspiring experiences at an early age. Whether that's reading a good book, taking them to a zoo so they can see different animals, or taking them to the theatre to see incredible things performed on stage.





The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do. 

Kobe Bryant





Recently I was lucky enough to be invited backstage at Cirque Du Soleil OVO, which is currently in Nottingham. While there I was talking to someone who told us that Alanna Baker, the person who plays the Black Spider in the show (and the only British performer), saw her first Cirque Du Soleil show when she was 8 years old. After the show she told her parents that was what she wanted to do when she grew up, and years later after A LOT of hard work and determination she is an artist in a Cirque Du Soleil show!

Do check out the video below where you can see Alanna rehearsing and performing!

How's that for dreams coming true?




Cirque Du Soleil OVO


Cirque Du Soleil OVO was created in 2009, on the company's 25th anniversary, and premiered in Montreal. It started showing in Big Top (a big circus tent) in 2009 and ran until 2015. In that time the show visited 30 cities in 6 different countries, and it is currently touring. Right now its UK tour is in Nottingham at the Motorpoint Arena, and you can see it until the 16th September - then they move on to Leeds. After Leeds they'll visit Manchester, Birmingham, and Belfast. Once the UK tour is over they probably won't return to the UK, so I was told, so if you want to see it get your tickets NOW!


Technicians in the Cirque Du Soleil OVO crew get the stage ready for rehearsals.


I remember first seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show back in 2003, it was their resident show, O, in Las Vegas and I remember being mesmerised. Some of things the artists can do are amazing. We first took our boys to see La Nouba in Orlando quite a few years ago - BP would've been 6 or so when he first saw it (he's 14 now), they've seen it lots of times since then and are really looking forward to seeing OVO.

OVO is the first and only Cirque Du Soleil show completely starring bugs, it is a day in the life of a community of bugs. With 17 different types of bugs represented, including spiders, crickets, and ladybirds, OVO shows us how a community of bugs copes when a strange looking egg appears. OVO means 'egg' in Portuguese which I thought was quite good. One of the great things about OVO though is the colour - while we think of bugs as being dark and dingy and rather ugly what Cirque Du Soleil have done is study the bug world and realise that it's actually quite colourful. You'll see a wide range of colours in the show and the costumes are wonderful.


Costumes from Cirque Du Soleil OVO hang on clothes rails before the show.




Backstage


I learned so much about Cirque Du Soleil OVO when I spent a few hours backstage. It was so exciting to be invited because I love Cirque Du Soleil and whenever we see a show visiting Nottingham we always try to get tickets. I wasn't even aware OVO was in Nottingham so when I was invited to see what goes on behind the scenes I was beside myself with excitement. I couldn't believe my luck!

The first thing I learned, and I was stunned, is all the equipment, costumes, everything, is owned by them and they take it around with them on tour. It takes 23 large trucks to transport everything and when they arrive in a new city it takes 12 hours to get everything set up and ready for the show to begin. There are 100 people in the crew, that's 50 performers, 25 management/catering/etc, and 25 technicians (the people who put the stage together and ensure everything is working correctly). Now I'm sure you're thinking what I was at the time - how do 25 technicians get everything set up in just 12 hours? Well they don't. They hire 60-80 local technicians to help with building and taking down the stage as and when they need it. Brilliant. Not only do they bring an amazing show to town but they hire local people too.


Costumes from Cirque Du Soleil OVO wait to be washed in the washing machines.


I have to say though, my favourite part about being backstage was seeing the rehearsals and getting to look at the costumes up close. Rehearsals start at 12:30pm, that's their 9am, and they have a strict schedule on Premiere day so that all the performers can be ready by the time they go on stage. The first rehearsal we watched made me so excited to see the show. The performer does acrobatics on a wire - I got to look at the wire up close too and it's really thin, it surprised me because it doesn't look strong enough to hold someone's weight. But of course it is. 

My entire afternoon I walked around in a state of amazement. Seeing colourful costumes and learning that they even take around washing machines and tumble dryers with them so they can wash costumes had me stunned. I realised that the show takes so much more than just the performers to make it the spectacular show it is. Of course the performers are wonderful and have worked SO hard to get to be a part of a Cirque Du Soleil crew, but it's also the technicians and other people organising everything behind the scenes that make it work so well.


Artist in Cirque Du Soleil OVO rehearses before premiere



The performers in Cirque Du Soleil OVO rehearse before opening night


So even if your son or daughter isn't into gymnastics but likes the idea of working for a show like OVO there's plenty of jobs they could do! 



Inspiration


What I took home from my visit backstage was BE THE BEST. If you like gymnastics, acrobatics, and having fun on trampolines, then strive to be the BEST at it. Work hard, take it seriously, and one day you might become what you always wanted - like joining a Cirque Du Soleil show! 





Being the best at whatever talent you have, that's what stimulates life. 

Tom Landry





But you know what? It's not just about the gymnastics. When I saw that there were so many people behind the stage making sure the equipment was working and people to create and fix the costumes, catering staff to feed the performers and everyone else, and a management team to make sure it all runs smoothly, I realised that you don't have to want to be a gymnast to be part of a Cirque Du Soleil crew.


Inspire your kids to strive to be the best they can be.


Below you can see a video that includes clips from my afternoon backstage, it also includes clips of Alanna Baker training, and in the show, courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil OVO.




If you want to inspire your children take them to see OVO, if they're into gymnastics or jumping on trampolines they'll love seeing the performers. But if they're more technical, you could talk to them about how there's someone backstage making sure the lighting and music is working, how they have people to build the stage. Seeing OVO would be a great way to inspire kids to be the BEST.



How do you inspire your kids?



If you liked this post check out Around the World in 80 Days Review, and if you're looking for more theatre entertainment for your children read Why you should see a pantomime during the Christmas break.

Stop by Facebook or Twitter to let me know if you've seen OVO or any other Cirque Du Soleil show, I'd love to hear from you.

Staying at home this evening but looking for something for the kids to do? Grab free activity sheets as my welcome gift to you!

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