Short skirt under pink lights. She takes off her shirt and her partner’s, jumps backwards, then flies and twists from her partner’s hands. All over top a crowd of people nestled in a Spiegeltent in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Meet Cadence Alexia, U.K born and bred. We first met at the Circus Space in London. Both redheaded, tattooed cradle flyers with a healthy dose of sass, we instantly bonded. Like that of many artists, Cadence’s journey has gone up and down, like a circus trick. Now she’s at the top of the industry and living it up in Vegas. We took some time to talk about her job at Absinthe Vegas and how she’s enjoying the American circus life.
Sarah Arrigo: What is your job at the show Absinthe?
Cadence Alexia: I’m the flyer in the Aerial Cradle act.
SA: Is there a theme to the show? What do you like about it?
CA: Absinthe is a Comedy, Burlesque, and Circus Cabaret in a vintage-style tent in the grounds of Caesars Palace. It’s been described as Cirque du Soleil channeled through the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think that’s a pretty accurate description; it’s dirty and gritty and honest, not so polished and perfectly turned out like most other Vegas shows. There are plenty of things I love about Absinthe, but the comedy always puts me in a good head space for performing. Especially Penny and her sock puppets– they’re right before our act, so I get to see it every day while I chalk my hands and feet. People are usually still dying laughing about it when our music starts, including me.
SA: Aerial cradle is a wild event that not too many people are familiar with. Can you describe it?
CA: it’s like swinging trapeze, only my trapeze is a person, called Linde. She throws me around from my hands and feet. We swing through the tent, she throws me in the air in all kinds of shapes and flips then catches me again, and all the people go “oooooooooooh” and “aaaaaaaaaah” and “whoaaaaaah”. It’s really fun.
SA: Do you get dropped a lot?
CA: No, actually it’s very rare. We’ve made 290 shows together now, and we’ve only dropped twice, that’s a pretty solid track record. Our tricks aren’t easy, but between the two of us we manage to be very consistent. Dropping a new trick in training when we first take off the safety lines is something I kind of have to go through. With every new trick, a little fear creeps in and makes my body hesitate and miss the timing. A couple of face plants later, I’ve usually worked out how to avoid eating mat. Then we put the trick in the show.
SA: How do you feel when you perform? Are you ever aware of how hot it is that you are flying around in heels, or are you mostly concentrating on tricks?
CA: Well, if I really did fly in heels Linde would have a few holes in her face and body by this point! How I feel up there really depends on the day. The most enjoyable performances happen when our bodies feel strong and the technique feels easy– then we really have fun, especially when it’s a good audience. Once someone yelled “THANK YOU JESUS” really loudly when Linde took off my skirt. I laughed my head off quite openly, then the audience laughed at me and I just kind of felt like we were all having a good time together. It’s nice to fly on days like this. Of course there’s a flipside; ten shows a week can make a tired body and mind, especially if one of us is a little ill, injured or sleep deprived. These are the days I’m totally focused on technique, keeping concentration, finding energy from some unknown place for six minutes and pushing through it. I’ve had those bad days when I sit on the cradle and the music starts and my brain is like “Really Cadence? Are we actually going to do this now? But I can actually, I just switch on my autopilot setting. Works a charm, just for six minutes.
SA: You’re from Manchester, UK! So different from Vegas. What does America mean to you?
CA: Well, I love America actually, I’ve had great times in this country in the past, but Vegas isn’t exactly an accurate representation of America at all. Vegas is the kind of place you come to either sink or swim. I step out of my apartment and I’m surrounded by shopping malls and hotels. It’s a pretty big culture shock at times. Take a walk through the Caesar’s mall or the Bellagio and you’re surrounded by giant gold sparkly things, crazy expensive restaurants, and designer stuff like fancy clothes and diamonds. And of course poker tables and slot machines and thousands of people pouring away their money in the hope of a big win. But when I take a walk home (I live half a mile from the strip), I get to see the other side of things: total poverty and homelessness. I always wonder how many people became homeless because they lost it all at a poker table. The contrast makes me feel a little sad and guilty. I’m very lucky to find myself on the sparkly side of life here.
SA: What’s the best thing about living in Vegas?
CA: Well, up until a few weeks ago it was the scorching hot weather! But now it’s cold and I feel like I’m back in Northern Europe. I like being surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, feels like I’m living on another planet at times. Also I’m a big foodie, so I love to eat at fancy restaurants with friends and try new things that I’ve not shoved down my pie hole before. I also appreciate my short working hours and how much time I have to do what I like– I like bobbing about in the hot tub and taking my dog to the dog park. Pretty mundane but I crave the peaceful things before I’m thrown into the drunken chaos of the Las Vegas strip.
SA: Do you ever feel like you’re a part of a circus gang? Like if anyone messed with you one of your cast-mates would have your back– is it like a family?
CA: Yeah, for sure. I have a lot of love for my cast and crew members. We have our little squabbles and dramas and culture clashes of course, but it’s mostly banter and rolling about laughing. Oh and of course supporting each other through scrapes, nerves and occasional heartbreak. I made some very close friends very quickly, and I’m really thankful for that. They’ve made my time here properly enjoyable.
SA: As a performer what are the top 3 things you rely on every day?
SA: What’s the craziest thing your coach did you when were training for this show?
CA: Jeeeez, well, our Russian coach Yuri Sakalov is kind of a crazy genius at Aerial Cradle. He worked with us for two months when we paired up to prepare us for the show, this was quite a ride and we couldn’t have been ready without him. I can’t really pick out one thing because just doing cradle with no lunge is pretty crazy in itself. We sometimes work with a coach here from Le Reve— it’s good for us to have an outside eye when we can’t work something out. He makes us wear blindfolds so we can feel the timing (lunge included obviously). It’s scary as hell but it really works!
Cadence can be seen in the show Absinthe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. More about the show: A surreal experience for adults, Absinthe features wild and outlandish acts in a theatre-in-the-round presentation. Audiences are treated to a night of imagination and excess with performances that amaze and inspire.
More on Absinthe Vegas.
Watch the aerial cradle act and tell us how you would feel if you had to practice this blindfolded!