Aussie Laura Kmetko Still Leaping For Joy

The flags of 18 countries fly outside the swirling blue and yellow ‘Kooza’ bigtop at Flemington racecourse, one for every nationality represented in Cirque du Soleil’s cast.

The Australian flag waves proudly among them thanks to the one and only local performer in the troupe, teeterboard flyer Laura Kmetko. Melbourne born and bred, Kmetko is enjoying a rare experience for a touring circus performer: a stint working in her home town.

“I love being back in Melbourne,” she said. “It’s great seeing family and going to my favourite places to eat.”

There’s little time to play tour guide for her coworkers, however. The cast maintains a gruelling training regime around its performing schedule, which can take in up to ten performances a week.

“You have to be very passionate about what you’re doing,” Kmetko said. “It’s a lot of long hours.”

“I come into the tent at lunchtime every single day; I like to eat here and get ready for my training sessions. We have a team that trains together twice a week for about two hours. And on top of that, Pilates sessions [and] boxing for cardio.”

“I like to do my own training in aerial silks and handstand contortion and keep up my other disciplines, so I’m basically training in my own hours.”

As a teeterboard flyer, Kmetko performs some incredible aerial acrobatics. At one point she is launched into the air, flips and then lands in the splits, caught by two men who are themselves standing on the shoulders of two others. It’s an impressive feat, one made possible through a lifetime of dedication and training.

“I started in ballet when I was six years old and I did gymnastics from eight to 18,” she said, “I did elite gymnastics with the Victoria Institute of Sport and I did circus arts for three years at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Prahran as well.”

“Everything I’ve learnt along the way – from ballet to choreography, to the artistic side, the expressive side of circus – has built to this point.”

As spectacular as the show is, day-to-day life is far from glamourous. Cast and crew spend most of their time in a sprawling tent village made up of training facilities, gym equipment, office space and a dining hall, all of which have sprung up out of the dozens of empty shipping containers that litter the site.

Running away to join the circus may sound romantic, but the intensity of training, performing and living out of a suitcase can take its toll.

“Of course it can be exhausting,” says Kmetko. “But thats what it takes to do what you love.”

“When you wake up every morning and think ‘this is incredible, I get to go and do two circus shows today, that’s my job’ … it’s awesome.”

{ SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald | }