Some people struggle to keep their balance when they’re walking on solid ground, never mind when they’re jumping up and down on a bouncy balancing beam. The Russian Bar Trio, a Canadian acrobatic trio made up of Marco Dieckmann, Eve Gagne (a stand-in for Christine Bedard, who is currently on maternity leave) and Yves Gagnon, make performing amazing feats on a Russian bar look easy. Two weeks ago, the Russian Bar Trio performed at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, where YP junior reporters Scarlet Au, Christy Cheung and Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari found out what inspires and motivates them.
A stunning sight to see
Flipping and soaring elegantly up in the air is the Russian Bar Trio’s flyer, 20-year-old Canadian gymnast Eve Gagne. She uses the momentum of jumping up from a 15cm-wide vaulting pole to do double – sometimes even triple – front flips and splits in mid-air, while her partners Marco Dieckmann and Yves Gagnon balance the 6.8kg bar on their shoulders.
“It’s all very natural to me,” she says, “I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was three.” While performing these moves are now second nature to Gagne, she’s had to do plenty of training to get to where she is. Injuries are, as you can imagine, very common in gymnastics.
“You have to get back on your feet [after you get injured] and learn to live with it – [performing on the Russian bar] is nothing like working a nine-to-five in an office. It’s a very physical job,” says Dieckmann.
Despite being knocked out before the semi-finals in season three of America’s Got Talent because the original flying girl, Christine Bedard, was injured, the group have managed to successfully strike out on their own, and have performed around the world.
“The producers of Got Talent ask us to come back to the show every year, so we might be going on Britain’s Got Talent soon,” says Dieckmann.
It’s no secret that the Russian bar is an extremely dangerous acrobatic act – you only need to take one look at the trio as they perform on the stage of New Town Plaza to realise that. I’d never heard of the Russian Bar Trio before their performance in Hong Kong, but I was blown away by their act.
The concept is simple. Gagne, the flyer, balances on the Russian bar and performs jumps and flips, while Dieckmann and Gagnon catch her on the Russian bar as she lands. The whole audience was riveted – we only attended the media preview, which was in no way as grand as the actual performance on New Year’s Eve, but their performance was already enough to attract plenty of attention from passers-by. Their reaction was testimony to the trio’s sensational performance.
People love acrobatics – it’s as simple as that
Gagnon and Dieckmann teamed up to form a Russian bar group when they were both working for the same circus company. Gagne is the flyer – the centrepiece of their performance as Gagnon and Dieckmann support the bar. Gagnon originally came up with the idea of forming a Russian bar group as the Russian bar is easy to carry and “people love acrobatics”. The acrobatic act have received two Guinness World Record titles, have toured with Cirque du Soleil – the Canadian circus company – and has performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Gagne, who is standing in for Bedard on the tour because she is pregnant, began performing gymnastics when she was three and she decided to pursue a professional career when she was 19. Her many years of experience have helped her become very skilled at performing daring tricks on the Russian bar. She has been balancing her studies and her passion for gymnastics since she was very young.
When asked how she is able to do all of that and more, Gagne says that she “went to school in the morning, and in the afternoon, it was gymnastics. It was like a special school for … sports. The teachers [helped] us [with schoolwork] as well.” It wasn’t all plain sailing though. She’s twisted her ankles numerous times and dislocated her elbow about as many times, but she’s always jumped back on the gymnastic horse (so to speak) as soon as she recovered.
This simple act looks amazing
The media preview performance we attended, it’s safe to say, was extravagant. The regular shoppers and crowds that walked through New Town Plaza were treated to a spectacular performance by the Russian Bar Trio. Within a few minutes, there were people gathering round to watch. Gagne is, without a doubt, the star of the show. Her triple flips and mid-air splits delighted the audience and took all of us by surprise – even though it was a simple act, it was clear to the audience that huge amounts of work had to be put in to bring the act to life.
“We don’t need to exaggerate acrobatics,” says Dieckmann. “The audience is already aware of the risks that come with it, so there’s no need to dramatise the act. We simply perform it as it is.”
The perceived simplicity of the complex act is perhaps what made the entire preview so special. Striking the perfect balance between grace and skill, Gagne’s landings on the Russian bar encapsulated the spirit of the trio and acrobatics as a form of art. Although Gagne is a relatively new addition to the trio, having only joined four months ago, she has already become a master of the group’s routine.
Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari