As the artistic gymnastics all-around Commonwealth Games finals get underway The Gymnast recently caught up with the 2002 men’s champion, England’s Kanukai Jackson.
After retiring from gymnastics two years ago “Kaj” has forged a hugely successful career in Cirque du Soleil, his gymnastics skills being used to entertain and wow the crowds all over the world.
We asked him, is being a performer easier or more difficult compared to being a competitor?
It’s different. There are similarities, you have to give your best when asked to. However, in gymnastics that can be 10 – 15 times a year and as a performer you can be asked to do this 400 times a year. Both are demanding but in a different way.
The show I am in is called “CORTEO” and is based around a clown and his life experiences. I started in the show performing Tournik which is a high bar based act done on a cube with myself and 11 other performers. At most we are 6 swinging around the cube at the same time. Several years later I am no longer in the high bar act but I am now the coach of the act. I now perform a duo straps act with a female partner. Together with my partner I developed the act over 2 years. Once we believed the act was ready we presented it to Cirque to see if it would have a possibility of going into one of their shows, they liked it and I’m proud to be performing an act I created on the stage.
Any advice to those gymnasts whose dream is to achieve as much as you have?
I would like to tell them that what they see on TV is possible to achieve! It is incredible how much you can achieve, if you do the basics properly. Gymnastics and the road to mastery is a wonderful, very special thing!
Read the full interview with Kanukai in the Gymnast Magazine here.