“An electric motorbike on top of a Russian bar, yes, it’s possible!”

Jean-François Faber

Combining street performance with circus is always interesting. The challenge that the team accepted is to put a motorbike on top of a Russian bar. Something we’ve never seen before.

We attempted this stunt for the show REFLEKT, presented for the Expo Astana in Kazakhstan in 2017. It’s one of the most important productions by the Events + Experiences team from Cirque du Soleil. The theme of the exposition was “renewable energy”, hence the electric motorbikes!

Research and development

After two and a half days of exploration, the foundations for the performance number were established. The team accomplished way more than what was expected. The motorbike could stay balanced on the bar and the artist was able to mount and dismount with acrobatics.

The main challenges

The main challenges in this new discipline are the weight of the bike, the new balance points and the relations of movement between the Russian bar, the motorbike and the artist. And all this on top of assuring the security of the artists. According to Fernand Rainville, stage director of the show, “the artist who controls the motorbike presents the biggest point of risk. You often need to take calculated leaps of faith to perform acrobatics at the highest level, but these must be properly dosed to avoid any injuries. Also, a motorbike is really powerful,” added Fernand, “this must only be attempted by a specialist.”

The innovation

According to Fernand, the main innovation is in the fusion of these two disciplines. It’s never been done! He added that if we invest more time and effort in our journey of exploration we could develop an acrobatic language and, maybe one day, integrate bike flips on the Russian bar, who knows? Only time (and lots of practice!) will tell how this combination evolves in the future.  

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