By Rob Landry | LSU Student
It is common to hear of an athlete going to perfect their trade in a different country. But an athlete leaving the United States to join the circus?
That's what former LSU gymnast Summer Hubbard did when she signed on to be a part of Cirque du Soleil, headquartered in Montreal earlier this year.
Hubbard tried out in September of 2010 and was asked to take part in a workshop in April 2011 to help validate a role Cirque wanted to add to an upcoming show. Hubbard spent a week with other acrobats in Montreal testing whether the act fit the show.
Three days later she received a contract offer through December 2013.
"The transition was a little hard, " acknowledges the Tampa Bay, Fla., native. "There have been some big changes and some little changes since I've been here, but I've have gotten into a routine and I am pretty comfortable now."
The biggest hurdle Hubbard faces is the climate change from Tampa Bay and Baton Rouge to Montreal.
"I am going to find the hardest transition to be getting used to the bone-chilling, negative-degree weather they get here. But I'm up for new challenges. That is precisely why I did this in the first place."
Hubbard's role with the show is an uneven bars act. Hubbard was a three time First Team All-American on the uneven bars at LSU, including being the national runner up on the apparatus in 2010.
The show debuts April 19, 2012 in Montreal and will perform throughout Canada and the United States. Dates and locations of the show are not yet public.
"The experience has been great so far. I have met some really amazing people and have allowed myself to broaden my perspective of the world and all there is in it."
LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux is not at all surprised at Hubbard's new role.
"Summer is extremely talented. But one of the things that attracted this particular show to Summer is that she has a lot of character, a lot of theater. She's very theatrical and there's a lot of drama in what she does. If they ask her to act like a tiger, she's going to give you the best tiger you've ever seen."
While there are many differences in performing for Cirque, Hubbard has seen many parallels to her old performing days."Training and performing with Cirque is very similar to collegiate gymnastics, actually. We have our trainings, fitness programs and the rush of an audience."
Breaux said being a good performer for Cirque requires much more than just good gymnastics fundamentals.
"It's not just gymnastics. It's gymnastics, it's diving, it's swimming and it's synchronized swimming. There are different disciplines that go with it."
Hubbard is the first gymnast in Breaux's 35-year tenure with LSU to join the Cirque.
Though the show is still more than six months away from debuting, Hubbard is soaking in every opportunity that Cirque has afforded her.
"It's a moving experience, one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. And although there are moments of fatigue, it's an amazing ride and I look forward to what the future holds for me with Cirque."