Flying Through the Air in “Corteo”

What health and fitness looks like for a Cirque du Soleil traveling acrobat

Marie-Christine Bergeron has made a career out of flying through the air with the greatest of ease. As an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo,” she wows audiences all over the world with the touring show. Bergeron sat down with us to talk about what it means to be an elite athlete with Cirque du Soleil and the roles of fitness, nutrition, and mental health in her work.

LS: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a trainer and as an acrobat?

MCB:  I am an acrobat and I’m also a strength and conditioning artist coach. I have been doing gymnastics since I was little, and then as a teenager, I was doing diving, going from state fair to state fair around the US. From there, I was meant to go into sports science at university. But instead of getting into university, I applied for circus school. In my last year of circus school, I auditioned for Cirque Du Soleil and I got in. 

When Corteo closed, I started working in a gym where I did my certification to become a personal trainer. When Corteo reopened, I ended up doing it online and in person. Those courses are quite rigorous, so it took me a while to complete. Then I did my nutrition course. I’m also a certified nutritionist.  

LS: What do you do as your daily fitness routine, besides the show?

MCB: I usually come here [the gym] quite early during the day because I like to get a little workout done. Sometimes I workout with some of the artists during the day. If I have a training, I’ll warm up an hour before, do a bit of legs, and do a full-body workout just to make sure everything is awake and ready to do the training. I usually take a little break and eat at least two hours before the show. Then, 45 minutes before the show I’ll do another little 25 or 30-minute warmup, just to make sure everything is ready to go.

LS: Can you share some examples of exercises or routines to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance for the performers?

MCB: For the performance, it depends on which act. For example, the girls that are hanging from the chandelier, doing the splits. They need to be super strong in that split position. Every act is very particular with their needs in the circus. It’s not one workout for all. I love to train Rossiter [a series of deep stretches that remodel the body’s connective tissues, providing better mobility, more free movements, and pain relief]. I’ve learned it on tour with Corteo.  


LS: How do you incorporate your nutritionist knowledge into what you do day to day?

MCB: We’re always conscious of what we’re eating. I know if I eat a massive chocolate cake, as good as it is, I won’t be able to do a good job on the trampoline two hours later. For me, I would rather eat small meals often. Some people would rather not eat a lot during the day and have a big meal after the second show at night. There’s no magic formula or one-size-fits-all.

LS: How do you work on your mental health while on tour?

MCB: This is a tough one on tour sometimes. A lot of people on the weekend go on long hikes. We also have a little climbing crew so they love to find walls where they go climbing or bouldering. People love to go camping on the weekend. Just escape. Most of us tend to wake up early and enjoy a bit of the outdoors. We’re looking forward to Colorado! This is our kind of place! We can combine work and also health and mental health. 

LS: Have you always wanted to perform?

MCB: Of course! When I was eight years old, I saw the dress rehearsal of “Alegria” and I don’t remember anything of it, but I remember I felt like I was amazed at how transformed I was after seeing that show. When I was a teenager I got a ticket to see “Varekai,” and the same thing! I remember how I felt watching the show, amazed and impressed! It was magical. It was above and beyond. I hope the audience feels anything like that when they watch us.  

See Bergeron and company when they come to Loveland’s Blue Arena at the Budweiser Events Center with Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo,” January 25th–28th.

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