An Aerialist Brazilian: Danila Bim discusses her work with Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA

Danila Bim’s job is literally hair-raising! The Brazilian-born aerialist suspends by her hair above stages while performing dazzling acrobatics. She is currently on tour with her hair hanging act in Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA. The artist has performed world-wide with circuses such as Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey. Bim talks about her professional experience and the training and skills required for her act.

VOLTA is Cirque du Soleil’s first Big Top production in five years. It will make its Philly-area premiere July 12th and play for six weeks at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA.

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Photo credit: Benoit Leroux

Debra Danese: You have extensive experience as a circus artist. How did you get started?

Danila Bim: I started studying dance at 13 years old and began my circus training five years later. I wanted to diversify my work as a dancer. Initially, I trained with a circus group and then I developed my work on my own. I am mostly self-taught.

DD: What type of acts do you perform and what training did you have that prepared you for that?

DB: I am an aerialist. My main discipline is Aerial hoop and Hair Suspension. Both disciplines are complex and involve many skills. To be able to perform my acts in a professional level, I have to work on my flexibility and power. I train contortion moves, hand stands, weight lifting and dance.

DD: In VOLTA, you are performing as a hair suspension artist. What does that entail?

DB: In order to perform my act, I have a long routine of exercises to warm-up my body. It also takes around 20 minutes just to prepare my hair for the act and almost the same time to undo my hair.

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Photo credit: Benoit Leroux

DD: Where did the idea to hang by your hair come from?

DB: Hair hanging is an ancient circus technique. Many claim it was first done by Chinese men and first seen in America in the beginning of the 20th century. What is new about the act I created is that the choreography and movement are of more focus by the fact that I am hanging by my hair. The idea is not to shock the audience with the hair hanging technique, but instead to make then believe I am floating. I started learning it because I thought it would be useful for my future creations as an independent artist. I have been performing with Cirque Du Soleil since 2009 as an Aerial hoop artist in a production called Quidam by Franco Dragone. After leaving the company to work on my personal projects, I was hired back one year later to perform in VOLTA with my new act. It was a great surprise.

DD: What is your hair care regiment and how important is it to your act?

DB: I have to keep my hair as healthy as it can be because hair hanging techniques do sometimes damage the hair. I avoid anything that can break or weaken it, like hair coloring or blow-drying. And I have to be very conscious about my health. Our hair, skin, and nails are the first ones to show any sign of health problems.

DD: VOLTA is a story about being true to oneself and fulfilling one’s true potential. How would you say you have accomplished this in your own life?

DB: In order to perform in front of so many people every night, and make them understand my message, I have to be very true to myself. I have to accept my weaknesses and my fears and also acknowledge my strong qualities. For me, the first step in finding ones true potential is to accept yourself – the good and the bad. I always try to Identify and face my limits and train hard to break past them. This is what the Circus has taught me; that fear and pain are part of life but it can’t stop you from living.

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About the author

Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.