We ran away with the circus

Now in its 30th year, Cirque du Soleil has risen from a two-man show on the streets of Montreal to become a world-beating spectacle. But what's life like for the performers? We travelled backstage to meet the stars of Alegría

Featured November 13 Words by Sarah Warwick / Portraits Phil Fisk


Ulziibuyan Mergen & Oyun-Erdene Senge

Discipline Contortion
Ages Both 20
From Ulan Bator, Mongolia
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It's a little-known fact that Mongolians are often bendier than other people, thanks to a national enthusiasm for contortion. But, even among their country folk, ‘Ulzii' (bottom) and ‘Oyuna' (top) are special.

“We started training when we were six or seven,” explains Ulzii. By 11, they were performing with Cirque, twisting their bodies into impossible shapes eight shows a week in various exotic locations.

“It's a lot of work,” says Ulzii, “We're already pretty stretched but we have to stay fit. We do two hours of cardio every day.”

The time in the gym pays off, however, when the adulation rolls in. “Wherever we go, people react differently,” says Oyuna, “but it's always good.” 

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