When most audiences think of Cirque du Soleil, they probably imagine high-flying tricks, death-defying stunts and plenty of gasp-worthy maneuvers. With Cirque’s latest show, “Amaluna,” you will certainly get all of that, but you’ll also get an incredibly inspiring story that showcases women empowerment, unity and love. Sebastian Zaniesienko, who stars in the show and performs on the incredibly entertaining teeterboard, sat down with Metro to give us the scoop on what to expect from the show.
How did you get started with acrobatics?
I was born in Poland and I started gymnastics there. When I was 18, I quit gymnastics and got into the film industry. I worked in the industry for about three years but then I got the call from Cirque to learn how to do the teeterboard, which is what I do right now. So I went to Montreal, learned it, got a contract and here I am today. [“Amaluna”] is my first show with Cirque du Soleil.
What was the training like for the show, and what specific stunts do you perform in “Amaluna”?
The training was amazing. They send you to Montreal to their headquarters and I was there for almost four months just getting to know the teeterboard and how it works and everything. We would have two trainings a day, then we would have to work out in between the trainings and we had performing classes. I’ve never been onstage before so I had to learn how to perform when up there. In a way, it was quite exhausting, because there was a lot of training involved and a few injuries as well, but just small ones. But then, when they hand you the contract, that’s it. I mainly do the teeterboard, which is like an extreme seesaw. Basically, I just take off and do as many flips as I can and hope that I land back on it.
What can you tell me about the story behind “Amaluna”?
It’s a love story, a classic love story. It’s based on “The Tempest” by Shakespeare, on the island of Amaluna. There’s Prospera, who is the queen of the island, and her daughter Miranda. And then there’s my character and two other boys who all get shipwrecked on the island. Eventually, Romeo and Miranda fall in love, and it’s just a classic love story from there. There’s a lot of passion, a lot of danger and eventually, they can live happily ever after.
What would you say makes “Amaluna” different from some of Cirque’s other shows?
I think the main thing that makes it different from other shows is the fact that it has a very obvious story line. With other shows, they are very fun to watch but sometimes the audience doesn’t know what the story line is. It’s so deep and different — with this show you really do see a story and so many people can relate to it. The fact that the characters in the show are human, too, rather than being different creatures — it’s just very modern. Especially right now with the whole women empowerment movement, it fits so well in today’s world because the show is about women’s strength and unity. It’s so beautiful yet so powerful at the same time.
What would you tell audiences to expect from the show?
Expect to be transported to another world, because as soon as you step into the tent you feel that way. It really does make you feel like you’re somewhere else.
“Amaluna” will be at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Ave., Oaks) from July 24 to Aug. 25. For more information and tickets, visit cirquedusoleil.com.