The Acrophobic Acrobat
Alevtyna Titarenko chose the wrong career. Come on, the girl is afraid of heights! Got that? She -- a leading star of Cirque du Soleil, one who swings at superhero speed on rings high above a rock-hard floor -- Is. Scared. Of. Heights.
And yet, the job is just so right. Alevtyna (nicknamed "Alya"), in case you couldn't figure it out, likes to be challenged. Acrophobic? Be an acrobat! You'll be so busy trying not to fall you'll forget all about being scared. (We can't read her mind, but we reckon that's the sort of logic behind her career choice.) In any case, she rocks. She soars. She crushes Cirque du Soleil.
Alya grew up in Nikolayev, an Ukrainian city with a population of half a million people. Most are employed in the marine industry, but not Alya’s parents: her dad is an urban administrator who competes in biathlons; her mom, a fashion designer who regularly enters swimming races. Alya clearly got the athlete gene. When she was five, her grandmother took her to a gymnastics class, which she immediately loved (except for the balance beam — that fear-of-heights thing again). Her prowess ultimately led her to become a two-time world champion in sports acrobatics and fitness.
Still, she didn't think about a future in sports. Actually, she says she doesn't think about the future at all. She’s let her life unfold by being open to anything — like, for example, impulsively deciding to audition for Cirque du Soleil. She nailed it and went on to create face-fear-in-the-face acts involving high-flying antics for O, Saltimbanco, and LOVE before joining TOTEM. Off tour, Alya spends time in Germany with her seven-year-old daughter, who is no doubt learning from her mother how to flirt with danger — and earn a standing ovation every time.
Cirque du Soleil TOTEM