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Belleville gymnast prepares for Cirque de Soleil audition

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Ali Dings calls The Quinte Bay Gymnastics Club her second home. She has been training for competitions since she was four years old and is now preparing for her Cirque de Soleil audition. Photo by Gail Paquette

By Gail Paquette

Ali Dings has dreams of joining the circus.

Nineteen-year-old Dings has been a member of the Quinte Bay Gymnastics Club since she was four years old. She started out in artistic gymnastics then switched to power tumbling nine years ago.

“When you are in a sport like this it is always in the back of your mind,” she said.

As a power tumbler who sometimes flips 10 feet in the air at 50 km/h, thinking of being part of the Cirque family, gives her butterflies in her stomach.

Recently she took the necessary steps to get an audition for Cirque de Soleil in Burlington, July 21, by sending in her CV, photos and a video demo.

“I want to impress them and get in and show them what I can do and I want to travel the world,” said Dings.

Power tumbling is a very mental, psychological sport and it is important to stay focused, she said.

“You are flipping upside down at 50 km/h, 10 feet up in the air. When you come down you must come down at the right angle, right speed. I have landed on my head so many times. It takes a lot of focus to be able to get into your zone.

Dings said she counts her steps, skills and has certain words in her head that she repeats.

“You can’t think about everything that is going on, you pick the keys things that you personally need to work on and you say those words.  You pick your words and you say them over and over.”

Dings began training a year ago, focusing on the skills she knew would be most desirable for Cirque, like trampoline and ropes. She hopes 15 years of experience, competition and training will get her on the database of talent.

Cirque hires thousands of performers and behind-the-scenes personnel and performs to millions of people around the world. They currently have 21 shows around the globe.

That is part of the attraction for Dings. She wants to travel.

“Travelling has been one of the greatest things about competing.  I have been to three world competitions Quebec, Russia, France and all across Canada. The people I have met and things I have seen are incredible.”

The journey has been hard sometimes.

“I missed out on things with my friends and family to do this and I would sometimes get frustrated and want to quit but I would just think of how far I had come and what I would miss out on,” said Dings. “I am very lucky to have a great coach, mentor, family and friends who support me. My parents never pushed me. I always was allowed to make up my own mind. If you think you can’t do something, well you can’t. If you think you can you will go far.”