Five on Friday with aerialist Lisa Skinner


Welcome to my new feature, Five on Friday, a speedy little Q&A to introduce you to some of the super cool people I’ve met in my travels (or in Insta-land) who I think are all kinds of awesome.

The best part? It should only take you five minutes to read.

I’m kicking things off with Lisa Skinner, a gymnast who was a three-time Olympian and dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist who ran off to join the circus. Literally. She’s now an aerial performer with Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA and last night she performed her first ever show in Brisbane. How cool is that?

When did you join Cirque du Soleil?
I joined Cirque du Soleil in April 2006 and I’ve performed in their shows Quidam and Alegria, and now KOOZA. This is my first time performing in my hometown of Brisbane so I’m a bit nervous.

How did you end up working for Cirque du Soleil?
Cirque often have scouts at the World Championships, Olympics and Commonwealth Games and they’ll ask people if they’re interested. I was first approached when I’d just competed in Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games and I hadn’t seen any of their shows, or been to a traditional circus really, so I pictured elephants and caravans and politely said no.

What made you change your mind?
I was approached again after the 2000 Sydney games and by then I had seen some of their shows and I was blown away so it was more of a ‘No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe.’ After the Athens games in 2004, I thought I’d see what it was like and try it for a year or two and I’m still here. It’s a fantastic place to work and it’s been very fun.”

What was the biggest challenge when it came to transitioning from competing to performing?
They’re like chalk and cheese, so completely different. In competition, you have to execute the move perfectly, or as best you can and block out the audience; it’s almost robotic whereas when you’re performing you have to try to included audience in the performance and bring them in to what you’re doing. You need to feel off their energy and excitement. And it’s a different way of moving and everything. But Cirque provides the opportunity to turn the acrobatic and artistic skills that people have spent so much effort perfecting into a career.

Who does your makeup?
I’m getting used to this new look; it’s probably taking me about an hour at the moment but I’ll get that down to about 40 minutes,” she said, adding that each performer is given a step-by-step photo guide on how to apply their makeup. They give you a couple of sessions to get used to it and then you’re on your own.”

If, like me, the thought of spending an hour each day applying your make up sounds like a nightmare, spare a thought for the performer who plays The Trickster as it takes him between two and half hours each day to apply his makeup!

And that’s a wrap. Happy Friday!

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil is in Brisbane from November 24 to January 8. For tickets, visit or phone 1800 036 685.

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