Le PeTiT CiRqUe thrills kids of all ages
YOUNG ACROBATS FROM Le PeTiT CiRqUe will entertain during a special afternoon show Saturday, Sept. 17 as part of a benefit for Pets Lifeline.
Mari Provencher/Special to the Index-Tribune
Quietly, in a state-of-the-art, 4,800-square-foot studio in the Southern California city of Culver City, a group of children ages 6 to 14 learn to artfully climb silk, do trapeze tricks and other aerial, acrobatic feats that will leave you breathless.
It is like a training ground for the next generation of performers to appear in Cirque du Soleil. In recent months, these youngsters have broken into the international spotlight, and are now slated to open for the likes of Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez as the troupe Le PeTiT CiRqUe.
"It's the first all-kids circus, ever," said Nathalie Yves Gaulthier, who founded the group.
But before these young talents find their place on the national stage, they will offer a unique showcase in the Field of Dreams as part of the Black Cat Cabaret to support Pets Lifeline.
"Parents told us they wanted something they could take their children to," said Nancy King, executive director of Pets Lifeline. "For this show, we say adults must be accompanied by a child."
While Black Cat's
nighttime performances electrify the stage with a touch of sexy, the performance by Le PeTiT CiRqUe is entirely kid-friendly and takes place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17. "We are thrilled to have these young talents come perform," King said.
Gaulthier had an eye for young talent while she was herself still a young talent, as a child actor and aerialist. At 15, she launched Kids In Act-Ion, a confidence-building circus program that taught trapeze, acrobatics and aerials, in her native Montreal, Canada. A year later, at the ripe age of 16, she founded Gaulthier Artists, a talent agency that primarily focused on young, emerging performers.
"I launched a lot of actors, like Academy award nominee Ryan Gosling and Hayden Christiansen from 'Star Wars,'" Gaulthier said, adding that she spent 18 years as a talent agent with offices across Canada and in Beverly Hills.
Ultimately, she determined she was happiest when working with children. In 2001, she shut down the talent agency and opened Le Studio, one of the few places in the country that teaches youngsters how to flip, fly and float like a circus performer.
"It's basically a kids' version of Cirque du Soleil," Gaulthier said. "What the students love is the mixture of gymnastics, dance and theater all rolled into one."
Soon, charities around Los Angeles were contacting Le Studio to see if the child talents were available to perform at fundraising events, and a new circus troupe was born. In response to the increasing demand for shows, Gaulthier incorporated Le PeTiT CiRqUe in 2011, taking 12 of the most talented students at the school as the inaugural class of performers, with 18 more in training for their time in the spotlight. The performers have been seen at Dream Halloween for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation with Jamie Lee Curtis, Imagine Christmas holiday shows at the Santa Monica Pier and in movies for Sony Pictures and Gracie Films. The kids are also featured in a promotional video that is currently playing at every Chuck E. Cheese and Journey's Kidz in America.
"These kids are just really, really good and got invited to perform all over the place," Gaulthier said, adding that she also launched Cirque with a Heart, which pairs the young performers with veterans of Cirque du Soleil to perform exclusively for charitable events.
Parents from across the country are contacting Gaulthier to see how their children can receive this type of instruction. Teachers come from a variety of backgrounds, from dance to gymnastics, many of whom continue to work professionally in the entertainment industry, fostering the talents of the next generation of performers in their spare time.
"It's not just getting up and doing a gymnastics routine, it's highly theatrical," Gaulthier said, adding that instructors teach more than just the physicality, they teach students how to command a stage. "I think the challenge of Black Cat is going to be working in the round. They've got to practice working the audience from all sides."
In designing the show, Gaulthier said she focuses on the mission of the charity they are performing for. "Where is the heart in the organization? That's what feeds me, that's what fuels me," she said.
Tickets to Le PeTiT CiRqUe at Black Cat Cabaret are $50 each. For tickets and more details, visit www.petslifeline.org.