Insanity, the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. But for Ganjuur BoldBaatar, this form of insanity equals success (and safety) in his role as chief of the Charivari act and teeterboarder in Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA.
“I was born into a circus family, so truly, I didn’t have a choice, I guess!” laughs the 34 year-old Mongolian of his decision to go into circus performing. “Since I was a kid, I see all of the generations of parties and shows. For me, as a kid, it was so interesting and so I’m really into it.”
Growing up in the nation’s capital of Ulaanbaataar, Ganjuur attended circus school (yep, there really is such a thing) where solving sums in geometry was just as important as juggling.
“You go in the morning for regular school, from eight until like, one – you study mathematics, geometry, physics and biology and [the] standard school program. Then you have a break, then in the evening, then you start the circus [lessons]. So you’re doing your [acrobatics], stretching, and you’re doing warm up and you’re doing juggling and then low wire, gymnastic, hand balancing, dancing and also musical instruments.
“You grow up very, very busy.”
Representing the third generation of circus folk (with both parents and a grandfather previously part of the industry), Ganjuur was also keen to be involved and that meant putting in the hard yards to perfect the ever-changing challenge of circus acts – first, as part of Mongolian’s national circus, then on the Russian swing and Chinese poles in Cirque du Soleil’s 2003 production of Saltimbanco. Now, he’s enjoying an almost-decade long stretch of work with KOOZA, where he’s captain of the Charivari act and also part of the teeterboard team.
Considering getting things ‘right’ in the circus world means maintaining constant precision and perfection, night in, night out for years on end, what does Ganjuur consider to be the hardest part of his job?
Not the acrobatic seesaw that is the teeterboard, that’s for sure.
“I could start complaining [about] many things!” he jokes. “There [are] challenges like, you live far from your family because you’re on tour. You meet with your parents once or twice a year, depending on the show schedule. I tour with my family: sometimes it’s challenging but it’s ok because I love what I do.”
And what about being able to perform the very same thing in a new and exciting way, over and over?
“Sometimes, [when] there are many shows, you physically are a little bit fatigued, but you get the energy from your audience because at the end of the show, they’re all like, applauding, yelling, screaming, whistling, [giving you a] standing ovation.
“You do hard work, then at the end of the night, they give you appreciation, and this is how you can continue. The circus job touches the emotion of the people so I think for me, I give what I can… and what I can do perfectly and the audience sees [this] and appreciates and I see this appreciation, I get energy from them. It’s like recycling.”