On the Fly

Adagio flyer Kelly McDonald gives a peek behind the curtain of Cirque du Soleil’s latest production


Cirque du Soleil performer Kelly McDonald is flying high for her latest role in the company’s upcoming production Luzia—an 11 act show utilizing light and water that draws inspiration from Mexico’s vibrant history, culture and tradition. We caught up with the Adagio flyer before she hits the stage when Luzia lands at the Big Top at Suffolk Downs June 27 to Aug. 12.

What role do you play in LuziaI’m the Adagio flyer, which is my main act. There are three porters with me, which are male performers that literally throw me around and swing me and catch me. I also am a backup—I do the dance trapeze number. I also do acrobatic pole dance in the show. Our poles are about 13-feet high and we’re climbing and doing different holds, drops and partner work.

What sets Luzia apart from other Cirque du Soleil productions? We have a lot of elements that haven’t been seen in a Big Top show before—we have a rain curtain where we can actually paint pictures with the rain, the stage has holes in it so the water goes straight through it, we have a pool with a pier—those are technically brand new. All the acts have different twists on things that maybe you’ve seen before.

What does it take to prepare for a performance? Once I get to the Big Top, each day is different. We’ll have about an hour scheduled of training with just my team—Adagio—where we go through corrections and new things just to keep everything fresh. We’ll do our own specific warm-up and then we go through some visualization before the show.

What is your favorite moment in the show? There’s one moment where I just finished a double front salto and then I spin away and I stand by myself—not with my partners—and I can take a breath and look out at the public. I love that moment to share the energy with the audience.

What do you hope the audience takes away from this performance? A big smile. I think when you come to Cirque du Soleil you just want to have a good time. I think a lot of people use it as inspiration. When someone gets to share their passion with you, it’s inspiring no matter what you do after. I think I want them to be amazed but have a really good time.

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