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Marty and Jake LaSalle


Marty and Jake LaSalle

Marty and Jake LaSalle

Jugglers and acrobats

Marty LaSalle and his twin brother, Jake LaSalle, have been performing together since they were 8 years old. This season, their first with the Big Apple Circus, the brothers' developed a five-to-seven minute juggling act, interspersed with acrobatics and dance steps. But the siblings' relationship is tested when Jake decides to leave performance to attend medical school. As the Play On! season evolves and Jake busies himself with medical school applications, the siblings clash over personal priorities. Jake and Marty physically distance themselves from one another, moving out of their shared trailer. But the Big Apple Circus is a small community, and the seismic shift in the brothers' relationship reverberates through the big top and into the cast and crew's personal lives, too.


Marty: "In the ring everything that happens in the world fades away. Our routine is meditative almost. There are times when you have to go work and all you want to do is cry. When the lights come on you have to have a smile on your face."

Jake: "The circus life is certainly not as easy one. It requires commitment, sacrifice and a willingness to not know where you'll be heading next. It requires self-assurance and an ability to take care of oneself physically and emotionally. I'd even venture to say that my life as a future surgeon will be easier than what would have been my life as a circus performer. But I think it's precisely the challenge that makes the experience so exhilarating and, in retrospect, so satisfying and meaningful. It is the world of the circus that has to a large extent shaped the person I have become—and the person I will be as a physician. I wouldn't trade anything for that."

Three Questions:

What's your best advice for anyone who wants to join the circus?

Jake: "Practice, practice, practice! You can have all the talent in the world, but without practice, talent means nothing. The circus arts are very challenging—both from a physical and an artistic sense—and the only way you'll be able to develop a great act is if you put in the time and the effort to make it happen."

How would you describe your act in the Play On! season?

Marty: "What made us stand out was that we integrated juggling with acrobatics and dance. It's a fast-paced, tightly choreographed act with one prop. We juggle ten clubs in the 10-minute version of our act and eight clubs in the five-minute version."

During the season, how long do you train/practice each day?

Jake: "My brother and I have always practiced a lot. Juggling as a discipline requires an extraordinary amount of practice, and the fact that we incorporated gymnastics and dance steps into our routine only added to the number of hours we spent practicing."

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