The Acronaires are in Vegas.
On April 22, Lacombe’s own acrobatics team, the Acronaires, left for the Silver State to begin an ambitious tour that will have them performing 14 shows in about four and half days.
Founded in 1974, the Acronaires are a performance-based acrobatics team that is dedicated not only to achieving excellence themselves, but also encouraging others to do so.
Ron Schafer, Acronaires head coach, said whenever the Acronaires perform they also share a message with the audience that promotes physical fitness, a strong work ethic and staying in school. Schafer said the Acronaires often tour outside of the country to spread this message but with this tour there is something more to it as well.
“I want the kids to see a live Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas,” said Schafer. He added that he hopes the show will inspire even some of the better performers.
“We’re just scratching the surface of what can be done,” said Schafer.
“If you watch Cirque du Soleil do what they do, it’s really quite amazing.”
Leo van Gulfan, assistant coach of the Acronaires and a veteran member of four years, agreed that Cirque du Soleil is on a whole other level of ability and he is more than excited for the opportunity to see a live show on the group’s home stage.
“It’s always been my dream to see Cirque du Soleil,” said Gulfan.
Not only do the Acronaires get to watch the performers of Cirque Du Soleil, they get to work with them.
One of the schools on the Acronaires’ Las Vegas Tour will be the Andre Aggassi College Preparatory Academy, where Cirque du Soleil members regularly teach workshops on a weekly basis.
While in Vegas, Acronaires will also have a chance to teach workshops alongside members of Cirque du Soleil.
Gulfan said that while he does not necessarily aspire to join Cirque du Soleil one day, he is certainly inspired by their abilities. He added that being around such impressive performers is sure to be an enlightening experience.
“When you are with a group that really knows what they are doing, it’s inspiring,” said Gulfan. “You can really learn so much.”
Gulfan also said that while the Acronaires may have certain limitations, they still work hard to achieve the pinnacle of performance that is Cirque du Soleil.
“If possible, we want to take our show to that level,” said Gulfan.
Touring is a big part of what the Acronaires do, Schafer said, so much so that when the team held its annual home show at the beginning of April, it was entitled ‘Around the World in 40 Years.’
Schafer said that since the team first started, they have toured all over Canada, a third of the United States, Jamaica, Nicaragua and several places in Europe.
This year, there are about 33 members on the team.
He added that the roster varies from year to year, but there are usually between 20 and 40 members on the team and a fairly even split between male and female members.
Most of the Acronaires, he said, are college- aged performers but there are some high schoolers and even a few older members as well.
Schafer said that, currently, the oldest regular performer is 53 years old and this year’s team has a mix of ages with a good handful of older, more experienced performers.