Shenea Booth, hand balancer from Cirque Dreams Holidaze, visited Lowell Elementary School in Watertown, Mass., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be at Boch Center / Shubert Theatre in Boston from Dec. 9-11, 2016. A short video was shown to the students in the Lowell gym. Then Shenea performed tricks for the students — and even included principal Phil Oates in the act.
After performing, she answered questions from the Lowell students. Jennifer Sierra-Grobbelaar, spokesperson for Cirque Dreams Holidaze, helped with the questions.
Q: When did Cirque Dreams Holidaze start?
Jen: Cirque Dreams Holidaze started eight years ago. It is the creation of the man you saw in the video, his name is Neil Goldberg. He has an amazing holiday ornament collection: 10,000 ornaments for his Christmas tree. He’s been collecting them all his life. So one day he looked at that collection or ornaments and sad, “You know what? I’d like to do a show about ornaments. I’d like to do a show about the holidays. So he created created the Cirque Dreams Holidaze spectacular for everyone to enjoy.
Q: When did you start doing that?
Shenea: I started performing as an artist at 18 years old. … I started competing in gymnastics when I was 8 years old. I’ve competed in the national championships and the world championships, and I did the Olympic tour with the Olympic gymnasts in 2004 and 2003.
Q: How many days do you live there [go on tour]?
Jen: The tour for Cirque Dreams Holidaze starts in the beginning of November and goes through the end of December, so it’s about 60 days.
Q: Where did you compete?
Shena: I’ve competed all over the world. I’ve competed in Europe and Asia and Latin America and all across America.
Q: How do you get inspired?
Shenea: I saw a circus show, a show like Cirque Dreams, and that’s how I got inspired when I was your age to become an acrobat.
Q: How did you start doing that?
Shenea: My grandmother took me to dance class. I learned to dance and then I started doing gymnastics after that. But my grandma started taking me to classes first.
Q: What sports were you in?
A: When I was competing, i competed in acrobatic gymnastics, and I was in mixed pair. So that means there was a boy and a girl doing gymnastics together.
Q: Do you perform in any shows?
Shenea: I perform in all sorts of circus show all over the world.
Jen: She also performs in commercials, so you might see her from time to time. What’s your new commercial coming out?
Shena: I have a new commercial coming out for Adidas. Do any of you guys like basketball? There’s a famous basketball player and his name is James Harden, and I’m doing an Adidas commercial with him, and it’s coming out soon.
Q: Where do you practice [for the show]?
Jen: For this show, for Cirque Dreams Holidaze, we bring the performers into our studio and we rehearse for about two weeks, and then we go out to our first theater on our tour, and then we rehearse there for one more week, and then we do a performance in front of a live audience. So three weeks, and then we start performing.
Q: Where do you [Shenea] practice?
Shenea: I usually practice at home in my living room.
Jen: Our performers rehearse, mostly when we are preparing for our show in our studio in Florida, in a city called Pompano Beach, which is near Fort Lauderdale.
Q: How many trophies do you have?
Shenea: I don’t know the exact number, I think there’s quite a few, but I do have two world championship gold medals.
Q: What years did you compete in?
A: i started competing — before most of you were born — in 1996 and then i stopped competing in 2004.
Q: How did you do that?
Shenea: A lot of practice. A lot of practice.
Q: Is anybody that is related to you shocked that you are a performer?
Shenea: Yeah, my whole family was really surprised because nobody else had been an acrobat before. But then after I became an acrobat, my sister became an acrobat and so did my brother. So now we’re a family of acrobats.
Q: Where did you start doing that?
Shenea: At home, in California, in San Jose, California, that’s where I was born. So i started doing gymnastics there.
Q: Have you won any Olympics?
Q: Where do you live?
A: I live in Los Angeles, Calif.
Q: Have you ever been famous?
Q: How do you make the Olympics?
Shenea: With a lot of hard work and I had to win a lot of competitions. So I had to get really good scores, I had to practice all the time, and I had to win gold medals, and then that’s how i was able to get to the Olympic level.
Q: What do your parents think about you doing that?
Shenea: They are very excited and they love to watch me perform, and they love to see everything that I do that I do in gymnastics and acrobatics, so they’re very excited and they love it. They’re always really happy.
Q: How many languages do you know?
Shenea: I speak a lot of Russian, I speak a good amount of French, I speak a little German.
Jen: Just so you know, there are performers from Russia, China, Mongolia, Brazil, Spain, and the Ukraine, United States, and Germany in our show.
(Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be at Boch Center / Shubert Theatre in Boston from Dec. 9-11, 2016. For information, go to http://www.cirqueproductions.com/public-shows/cirque-dreams-holidaze/.)
–Dec. 1, 2016–