Joseane Martins lifted by Victor Huusko

The Winding (Swimming, Flying) Path to Performing With Cirque du Soleil

We spoke with Brazilian flying artist Joseane Martins Costa ahead of Corteo. See it Aug. 31–Sept. 3 at Acrisure Arena.

Amanda Oliver Arts & Entertainment

Joseane Martins lifted by Victor Huusko

Joseane Martins Costa lifted by Victor Huusko.

If you’ve ever tried to imagine what it takes to perform with Cirque du Soleil, the largest contemporary circus producer in the world, you’ve likely also told yourself, “I could never do that.” At least one Cirque du Soleil performer once thought the same.

For Joseane Martins Costa, a Brazilian flying artist, the path to becoming a performer with Cirque du Soleil began with ballet lessons at age 3, competing nationally in gymnastics for five years, and eventually performing professionally as a synchronized swimmer. Her many talents and love for entertaining combined when she joined Cirque du Soleil in 2018.

Armando’s Bar

Cast members of Cirque du Soleil's Corteo pose in front of the Forever Marilyn statue in Palm Springs. 

Martins Costa now performs with the cast of Corteo — a celebratory extravaganza of memories, senses, and life in a colorful and moving ode to Mauro the Dream Clown — coming to Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.

Martins Costa’s own first time seeing Corteo was in her hometown of Rio de Janeiro in 2014. She recalls, “I remember thinking, Wow! These people are from another planet. Fast-forward all these years later, and here I am.” In an interview with the flying artist, we learned more about her unique journey and the show.

How did you go from being a professional swimmer to a flyer in Cirque? Do you find the skills translate well?

I started as a synchronized swimmer in a smaller show. That’s really when I fell in love with it and decided that I wanted to keep performing. I applied for many different shows and was cast to perform in a water show. While doing acrobatics, I learned so many different techniques and skills. When this water show ended, I decided to audition for Cirque du Soleil as an acrobat. Shortly after that, they called me to start training at the headquarters in Montreal to learn the Russian cradle flying act. After three months, I was cast to join Corteo.

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Inna Teslenko poses outside of Acrisure Arena.

What is your favorite aspect of performing in Corteo?
I love the fact that we’re celebrating life and have this beautiful message that we pass on to people. … It’s a joyful possession that celebrates the life we’ve lived. Human connection is so special, and I believe we’re really able to transmit that and share it with audiences around the world.

What is your favorite piece of the stage show that doesn’t involve your own performance?
There are so many beautiful moments in the show, but I absolutely love the ladder act.

What is your favorite part of being in Cirque du Soleil? How have you found working for the troupe?
My favorite part of working with my amazing team is being given the chance to collaborate with so many talented people. That includes technicians, musicians, clowns, athletes, artists. … There is so much we can learn from each other, and I love that we all get to do what we love as a job.

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Standing, left to right: Gerardus Chatrou, Victor Huusko, and Joseane Martins Costa. Inna Teslenko does the splits.

What do you think audiences will find the most exciting about Corteo?
Other than jaw-dropping acrobatics, fun acts, and beautiful songs, I think guests will be really excited about our little woman flying through the air with balloons. It is unlike anything you have ever seen, and the audience gets to be part of the show and help her fly through the whole audience.