Ever wanted to run away with the circus? We recently chatted to Irina Akimova, the uber talented Russian Hoops Manipulator from Cirque Du Soleil’s Kooza. Not only the best in her field, she is also a mama, travelling the world with her 3 year old daughter.

At what age did you start learning the art of hula-hoops?

I was 12 years old. There was a circus school, “ART ALEE”, in my town in Russia. When I started they gave me a hoop and said “this will be your role” but I was more than happy to improve myself in just the one area.

Did you instantly decide this was what you wanted to do in life or did you have other plans?

I loved the hoops and I like the idea of improving myself, so I just kept going. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and I still love it. I love creating different tricks and new hooping things.

Tell us about your role in Cirque du Soleil?

I feature in the second act. It’s about underground work. I am the Queen of the underground in a big purple cape and hat. I look very beautiful. It’s much darker than the first half of the show. I feature hoop manipulation, playing with hoops and characters showing innocent and trickster, different sides of life, dark v’s beautiful/sexuality. It’s very exciting.

You are a mother to a 3-year-old daughter. Did you take much time off from Cirque Du Soleil after she was born?

I stopped with the circus when I was two months pregnant and started performing again four months after Veronica was born.

“I have the best life. I love the stage, performing, the audience, plus I get to discover different cities, learn new languages, meet new people and show my daughter the world”.

What is it like travelling the world with the circus and a small child?

We’ve just finished up our time in Sydney. Before this we were in South America. We have a baby sitter who travels with the circus and there are other wives, girlfriends, musicians who help look after the kids. I’m glad Veronica has a chance to learn other languages. She currently speaks Russian and English and she wants to learn Spanish because there are many Spanish people in the show. She has been to South America, Europe, Japan, North America, Canada. She was born in Miami, Florida and I’ve kept travel diaries from all our adventures.

What does a typical day involve?

We perform 6 days a week with Mondays off. We do 9-10 shows a week. I wake up at 7am and go to sleep at midnight. Mondays we try to have special time together as a family.

Are there many other artists in the show that have their children with them?

There are about eight families with the circus and 10 kids in total on the tour. But I’m the only artist with a child. Sundays are family day and they have activities for the kids before the show.

Does your partner travel with you as well?

He is also a circus artist and is currently in Moscow. He is a Head Balancer and artistic director. He comes to visit us around every 3-4 months.

When you are not on tour, what do you like to do for fun as a family?

We try lots of different things. Cooking classes, cake decorating, baking, farm visits. Outdoor things.

What is your favourite thing to do when you get a chance to go on a date night with your husband?

We always catch up as the three of us. It’s so important to include Veronica in every moment she can have with her dad.

Over 7 million people around the world have enjoyed the magic, wonder and incredible feats of KOOZA. The Melbourne season opens on January 20 2017 at Flemington Racecourse.