Running away with the circus


Ever wonder what it would be like to run away with the circus?

Well, one of our therapists Cristina Piticco had an amazing experience

running away with Cirque Éloize to Europe, this past summer,

as their onsite therapist.

Here is her story!

When people hear of the word “circus”, many think of “traditional” circus shows in red and white tents, where fierce animals are performing dangerous tricks and the weirdest of the weird are performing humanly impossible feats.  Today, the word circus has a very different meaning. It has transformed over the decades to be associated with spectacles that encompass physical and acrobatic excellence. Within the performing arts domain, Cirque Eloize has taken the stage as a contemporary circus, alongside her more well known sister company Cirque du Soleil.

This summer, I had an incredible opportunity to spend a few weeks abroad with Cirque Éloize’s show Cirkopolis in Linz, Austria, during their international tour as their onsite physiotherapist. I was extremely happy to have had this opportunity as it was both a very challenging and rewarding experience, where I was be able to help those who push the barriers of human capability.

“Ever since I got accepted to my masters program in physiotherapy, I always had an urge to work with circus performers, having been involved in circus arts myself and had a passion for the discipline and art form from very early on…”

– Cristina Piticco

As the company’s onsite physiotherapist, my schedule revolved around the show, which was very different from a therapist’s typical 9-5 or 12-8 schedule. I had mornings off to site see and would come to the theatre a few hours before the show and would stay after for treatment sessions. Before the show, I would start the day by seeing how the performers’ prior injuries were progressing; either acting up or were on the mend. Many of the artists preferred to have a treatment session after the show because before, they would be busy with rehearsals, and warm up.

When treating an artist, my main focus was to understand how their injury related to the demands of the show and determine what they can or cannot do. It was very common for performers to come in contact with therapists that didn’t understand their unique job demands and injuries, so my previous experience in circus arts was a huge help! I would treat them with a global approach, not only looking at the specific injury but try to relate it to how their whole body moves on stage. When treating performers, asymmetrical movements and overuse injuries are very common.  Many performers can suffer through recovery, as time for rest is limited and obtaining and preparing healthy food was a challenge. From rehearsals, to shows, to travelling on buses or airplanes, being on the road can place many physical and psychological demands on performers.

Throughout my two weeks on tour with the company, I witnessed a fabulous show, which kept me entertained, and treated many complex injuries that always kept me challenged. I had the pleasure to meet people from around the world, communicate in different languages and understand how injuries and pain were perceived among different countries. From the performance to backstage management, I gained insight of the intricacies of how a circus company operates, and what my role was as a therapist. Being a part of a show on the road has both ups and downs, but you truly gain an appreciation for the experience and become a part of a family along the way.

From this experience, I have gained even more excitement to be able to offer my therapy services to the circus community locally and internationally. I look forward to working with Cirque Éloize in the future and local artists within Toronto and continuing to support the sustainability of an art form that has inspired me through the years.

circus-2Cristina Piticco (Registered Physiotherapist)