Confessions of an acrobat: He draws energy from screams

Although he has been doing it for 12 years, professional acrobat Angelo Rodriguez still gets the chills before each performance of the Wheel of Death.

The well-built 28-year-old from Colombia told The New Paper that he always takes a brief moment to pray both before and after each performance.

Said Mr Rodriguez: "I pray to be kept safe before the performance. After, I give thanks for surviving yet another time.

"What we do is so dangerous. There is no room for mistakes."

Any "mistakes" that the audience sees during his nine-minute segment in the Cirque Adrenaline show, on now till Christmas at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, are deliberate.

"Not only must we perform the act well... but also we have to make it entertaining. Sometimes, we pretend to have a problem, even though there can never be any real mistakes up there," he said, pointing to the 10m-tall Wheel of Death.

Cirque Adrenaline is a high-octane show styled after traditional circus performances.

The 15-act show is filled with clowns, trapeze artists and daredevil stuntmen.

In his act, which is one of the highlights of the show, Mr Rodriguez and his partner, Mr Carlos Macias, place themselves in a 900kg set-up of two counter-balanced spinning wheels.

These wheels are powered by their continuous running, "like a hamster wheel" as he puts it.

While running to keep the wheels spinning, the duo also perform tricks such as somersaults and balancing acts.

Some of these even involve climbing out of the wheels and jumping as they rotate at high speeds.

Evidently still on an adrenaline high when we met after a rehearsal, Mr Rodriguez said with a loud laugh: "There is nothing like the high you get from this, it is what keeps me going. I love performing for people."

In fact, Mr Rodriguez cheekily said that he considers it a personal achievement when he hears a scream from the audience or sees people cover their eyes in fear.

ENERGY FROM CROWD

"So much of my energy and motivation come from the audience. When they are gripped, I wish my performance could be longer, and that it would never end," he said.

"It is why even though my performance is just for a few minutes, I train for an hour almost every day.

"They cannot see that I am tired, all they should see is a perfect show."

Training and rehearsing have been a part of Mr Rodriguez's life since young.

His family has had a long circus tradition dating five generations, and many of his relatives are performers as well.

Mr Rodriguez trained with his family until he was 15, when he left for Germany to learn how to perform the Wheel of Death.

Since then, he has travelled all over the world to perform.

Cirque Adrenaline is the second time he has performed here.

"Quite a few of us travel, performing and making our country proud. We show that Colombians have talent too," he said.

When asked what his parents think about his act, the jovial Mr Rodriguez turns uncharacteristically quiet.

"They've never seen me perform this, they hate it," he said

His parents have avoided his shows because they are afraid of watching their only son perform such death-defying acts.

Back in Colombia, they perform as clowns and stage entertainers. Mr Rodriguez said they disapprove of his high-risk performances.

In a matter of seconds, he perks himself up, flashing a wide-mouthed smile as he looks at the towering wheels.

He said: "They'll get to see me perform one day, I am sure they will.

"And when they do, they'll know how amazing my act is."

FYI

What: Cirque Adrenaline

When: Now till Dec 25, various timings

Tickets: From $55. Visit www.sistic.com.sg or www.marinabaysands.com/ticketing


This article was first published on Dec 19, 2016.
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