Vladik Miagkostoupov, 26 year-old Ukrainian-American juggler extraordinaire, flew in from Montreal to work the lunch crowd in Philly’s Reading Terminal Market with a live preview of Cirque Du Soleil’s revamped Dralion. Vladik was in full Cirque make-up and donning a shredded maroon sequined singlet that was attention grabbing in the Terminal, which on any given day has the most diverse mix of Philadelphians in one place.
Without fanfare, Miagkostoupov sprung onto a makeshift dance board that was far from safe and much too small. The virtuoso juggler tossed off eye-popping tricks with leaps, pirouettes and flips, smiling the whole way through it as he competed with people barking lunch orders.
Vladik’s juggling is a perfect match to the acrobatic dance style of Cirque.
Later, he had a vague memory of be in Philly before. “I have a feeling I was. I’ll have to check with my parents. We were all over the East Coast when I was little,” Vladik recalled. His parents were performers in the Moscow circus and Vladik started in ballet and dance classes early. The family eventually moved to the U.S. and did their act in Las Vegas where he grew up.
“I started dance when I was four, with ballet and jazz. At six I started to juggle. When we came to America when went to Las Vegas, more cabaret style show and changed their act. My parents thought whatever I did in the circus I should be able to move well onstage. So I started training four and five hours a day.”
His artistry has made him into a juggling virtuoso. “I did many shows professionally since I was nine. Not much in actual circuses, but more theatrical, I did Lido in Paris for a year. Originally I worked with a choreographer and my dad, but I started doing my own moves.”
He joined Cirque in 2003 as a performer in Solstrom and has been on tour with Dralion for four years. He’s ’modified’ his act, he says, but always keeps attempting new things. “I can do more difficult tricks, but it’s too much for the shows.”
As for any difficulties in the low-tech Reading Terminal appearance, Vladik admitted to having to make fast adjustments in the physics of his movements, he couldn’t throw his nine balls as high as he normally does. But he had no problem catching them with different parts of his body.. He did have pull in his leg extensions on the leaps.
“I immediately was making adjustments,” he said. “When I have more space I do more extensions. So I tried to keep the line, but pulled it in. Normally in my act I throw a lot higher.”
He also did several knee drops and when I asked him if it was scary on that dicey platform he just pulled his pant leg up and said his knees were used to the abuse in one for or another. “My knees and feet are so used to it, I can do it anywhere,” he said a very Cirquey grin.