Most children dream of running away with the circus but Jasmine and Etienne Savard are already
living the dream.
As the offspring of the talented musician Sebastien Savard and his wife Melanie, Jasmine, 7, and
Etienne, 4, live and travel with the Cirque du Soleil.
Jasmine attends one of the most exclusive schools in the world, the travelling OVO! Circus school.
Sebastien is lead violinist, and also plays the guitar, erhu and does voices in OVO, dressed and made
up in character as a lovable cockroach.
He was headheaded by the Cirque de Soleil in 2002 and joined as a violinist in Quidam. The musician
was travelling in Japan when his then friend Melanie, “put her life into boxes” to join him on tour.
The couple married soon after, before Jasmine was born in New Zealand. Etienne joined them a few
years later in Portugal.
years later in Portugal.
The family now travel live and travel with the circus, and find the hardest thing about their nomadic lives are ‘the suitcases. We have so many suitcases,” Sebastien laughs.
Melanie, who teaches the cast yoga, makes an effort to keep the routine at home in each country as normal as possible. So bedtime is the same time wherever they go, as are dinner, bathtime, school, homework, and so on,
“The first day or two there might always be some tiredness from the travel but then the body adjusts,” says Sebastien. “As long as they can do some of the same things, like draw or go to school, they are happy.”
In addition, the children get an incredible education, living, eating, and playing in all corners of the globe.
“The school children study their lessons in French, in an English setting,” Sebastien explains. “Next year they start Chinese. I am teaching my daughter violin, and she learns trampolining from an ex-Olympian. They learn more, not less.”
In each country, the Cirque de Soleil put the family up in a two bedroom apartment. This becomes their temporary home. In the childrens’ room, one half is pink, and one is spiderman-themed, with an imaginary line down the middle, smiles Sebastien.
During their stay in Brisbane, the children have enjoyed exploring the parks and cuddling koalas.
Sebastien is prepared for the day when the children may ask to have a ‘normal’ home like other kids, but is hopeful that day will remain as far off as possible.
“For us, this is the best possible way to bring up our family. It is a wonderful job and best lifestyle in the world. To us, home is where the family is, and as long as we are together, we are home."
As for OVO! it is a delightful confection of fun, frolics and festivity.
The show revolves around the colourful world of insects, featuring a sassy ladybug who quickly falls in love with an egg-finding quirky bluefly. (Ovo is Portugese for egg).
To be honest, there’s not much of a plot but it doesn’t seem to matter as the energy and talent of the performers, as well as the impact of the costumes and make-up, takes the breath away.
Sebastian is larger than life, even playing his violin upside down at times, and the musicians are in contact with singers and sound staff with headsets and microphones so they can adapt to what is going on stage, and not the other way around.
I loved watching the joy and delight on my childrens' faces as they watched the action on, off, around and above the stage.
Afterwards, I asked what they enjoyed the most:
"All of it," they chorused.
They loved the music so much, we even bought a copy of the CD as a souvenir.
The show runs in Brisbane until September 2, before it moves on to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and finally Perth.
Some of the colourful characters from OVO!
Sebastien in character
And in case you missed it, the winner of the Sea World, Wet 'n' Wild, Movie World VIP pass giveaway was Melanie from a Welcoming Hearth. Congratulations!