How this Artist Adjusted to Two Years at Home

Domenic Taylor had planned to take a short break and then head back on the road. He’s still in his apartment

Circus artist Domenic Taylor kept an impressive record of his time on tour with Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk: The First Flight. For four years, from 2015 to 2019, he kept a meticulous list of the dates he was in each city — and it covers over 30 countries and almost every continent on earth.

With Toruk, Taylor performed everywhere from Auckland, New Zealand (September 11th – 25th, 2017) to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (January 1st – 18th, 2018). And the pace of the tour was relentless, even in its last months. In May 2019, the show played in Moscow and then stopped in eight more countries on the way to its final performance in London at the end of June. But the final item on the list deviates drastically in length from everything that came before it. Vancouver, Canada: July 4th, 2019 – July 27th, 2021.

Taylor had been planning to take a short break after the tour wrapped up, but 2020 turned into a full stop. He was stuck in Canada for the better part of two years while live performance was on hold around the world. Now he finds himself, like all of us, on the precipice of a new transition. But life as a circus artist has given Taylor something that prepared him for even the most unforeseen circumstances: the ability to adapt.

At 19 years old, Taylor made the jarring transition from life in Montreal to life on a world tour. Suddenly, he was living out of hotels and changing cities — or even countries — almost every week, not to mention managing his energy while he balanced seeing the world with performing jaw-dropping feats of athleticism. But it was exactly what he had been preparing for.

“It was manifested over years,” says Taylor, “so even though it was a completely different world, I was so focused on it before that I knew what to expect.”

The uniqueness of the opportunity was not lost on him. Any job that demands high levels of physical performance has a measure of precariousness, and Taylor was determined to seize the moment.

“I told myself: do everything. Visit everything, like the Great Wall of China on your day off. Go meet people and do as much as you can because you may never get this chance again. So I can’t regret anything because I really devoted my energy to being present.”

“But obviously, you burn the candle; you’re burning the wick at both ends.”

Despite having job offers that would start as soon as the day after Toruk closed, Taylor knew he would need time to recharge before packing his bags again. The plan was to hit the road again in spring of 2020 — but in March, within a 48-hour span, Cirque du Soleil announced it was closing every one of its shows.

For the first six months of the pandemic, Taylor thought of it as an extension of his rest period — one more month, and then one more month again. But eventually, as it became clear that live performance wasn’t coming in a month’s time, he had to change his mindset.

“This is when the adjustment period came in. You either decide, ‘Ok, I need to figure out a way for me to stay in that artistic training space,’ or decide what else is out there for me.”

Even though transitioning to life on tour had been stark, it was also the culmination of years of preparation. Taylor knew what tour required because he had been working toward it. But with the pandemic, it became impossible to plan. He felt caught between a desire to keep training for a potential reopening and the need to relieve some pressure while circumstances were out of his control.

“I started bringing that idea of mindfulness into my circus training,” he says of eventually finding a balance. “Exercise became the thing keeping me in a positive space.”

One question that kept resurfacing during his time in Vancouver was one of identity. “When the question of ‘who are you and what do you do’ was brought up, it was interesting to face that question without a job title involved. ‘Without this job, who am I?’ is a heavy question that a lot of us are facing.”

This was especially poignant because going on tour with Cirque du Soleil had been Taylor’s goal since he was 10 years old, and now he had done it. “Once you achieve your dream, it’s very hard to go and say, ‘Now what? What’s the next thing?'”

While his apartment in Vancouver couldn’t provide the fast-paced changes of scenery that he was used to, the questions he was asking himself did change things and ultimately allow him to refocus on his goals as an artist.

“The way that the world is moving, everything is going more digital. I’m very interested to tap into that,” he says. “I’d love to do a bit of both [stage and screen] — transition and collaborate with artists who want to do more film or concept work with circus as an element. Then hopefully get back on stage when things are safe.”

He’s inspired by recent works like “BLUE” – An X Circus Film About Gender, which pulls from both circus and film to explore issues of gender identity. “I’d love to just keep creating with other artists, whether it be in film, stunts, circus arts, visual arts, anything in fashion. I’d love for all of those things to merge.”

So, what does he think things will be like post-pandemic? Different, he says — and in a way, that’s nothing new.

“Adjustment periods are something all of us go through,” he says. “These strange moments of grief, happiness, and confusion are universal. Going on tour was a big change and it took time to adapt; coming off tour felt like an even bigger adjustment, and it wasn’t easy. But adapting is a choice, so I try my best to take things one day at a time and make the most of a confusing time.”

{ SOURCE: Maighdlin Mahoney, CBC News }