If you visit IFC mall this Christmas, expect to see circus acrobat Saulo Sarmiento suspended in mid-air, showcasing his gravity-defying pole-dancing skills.
It’s all in a day’s work for the gymnast, who has performed at the Cirque de Demain – one of the biggest circus festivals in the world – toured with the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, and even appeared on British TV show Britain’s Got Talent. He is now currently performing twice a day, at 12.45pm and 6.30pm, at IFC’s Jingle Jangle Carnival until December 26.
Ahead of his two-week stint in the show, Sarmiento sat down with Young Post to discuss how a kid from the Canary Islands made it to the world stage.
“It’s been my dream to be an acrobat and perform with the Cirque du Soleil since I was 12,” the 31-year-old said. “I saw a DVD when I was a kid, and I said ‘I want to do that’.”
But back in his home in the Canary Islands – a small cluster of Spanish islands off the north-west coast of Africa – there weren’t many opportunities for Sarmiento to learn circus skills.
“So I started with gymnastics – just a small gymnastics club. Then I moved to Madrid, the capital of Spain, and started my training in dance and circus skills.”
“Finally I moved to Paris; it was a big change for me when I started training professionally.”
Sarmiento follows a rigorous training regime, working out for around three hours each day.
“I train for two hours, then do a warm-up followed by 40 minutes of yoga and stretching, Then I go through my pole routine which is only five minutes long, but is very intense because every movement requires strength and flexibility.”
While he normally sticks to a strict diet, Sarmiento allows himself one day a week when he can relax the rules and eat what he wants.
“Or if I really want something there and then, I’ll have it, but will try and be extra disciplined later.”
Sarmiento stressed the importance of consistency when it comes to training. He finds ways to stay active even when on holiday, going for hikes or playing water sports.
“I’m always moving,” said Sarmiento. “I’ve been like this since I was a kid.”
But no matter how careful he is, or committed to regular exercise, there is always the chance of injury, and this, of course, sets him back.
“You need to stop until you heal. Last time I got injured, it took three months for me to recover. I had to get back in shape after that.”
But for Sarmiento, such challenges are a small price to pay for getting to do what he loves.
“I’ve fought and trained hard to be here and finally I did it and I’m very happy. It’s a big dream but I believe if you really want something, you can get it – but you need to train a lot.”
Given the level of determination it takes to make it as a performer, Sarmiento believes it would be impossible to do his job if he didn’t love it – and it’s something he wants young aspiring gymnasts and dancers to know, too.
“The most important thing for kids is that they need to have fun, they need to like it. They shouldn’t feel as if they’re being forced to be there, just training. I think if you’re a good coach, you know the kids are there having fun too. This is very important.”
Sarmiento hopes he can be a source of inspiration for young performers on social media, using his various platforms to share videos of his training regimen, and to connect with others in his line of work. He has a loyal following of 55,000 on Instagram alone.
“My followers are mostly acrobats, performers, students, or just people who enjoy performing arts. So the content I share on social media tends to be related to pole acrobatics or physical conditioning. Hopefully, I’m helping to motivate and inspire people, so they can try to do what I do.”
Just before we wrapped up our interview, Sarmiento revealed his plans for 2019: he’ll be returning to the Cirque du Soleil – but he’s keeping quiet about the details.
“I cannot tell you where and when because it is confidential. But it will be a big, big show with an amazing director who I’ve worked with before. He’s amazing, and it will be a super show.”