Jump Right Into Circus Stunt Work With Yuri Levin - StageLync
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Jump Right Into Circus Stunt Work With Yuri Levin

In recent years, the exciting field of circus stunt work has expanded rapidly… and many career circus artists are now finding niches for themselves in it. But navigating a field that is still in development is never an easy thing. We at CircusTalk are interested in exploring the stunt work world as it develops further and helping our members navigate it, too. Helping us all orient ourselves in it today is American stunt performer and martial arts tricker Yuri Levin, currently part of “The Bourne Spectacular” at Universal Studios Orlando.

Whether on stage or as an athlete, Yuri Levin, 25, has been performing at his best for more than a decade and a half. A California native, Yuri kicks and flips his way between gymnastics studio mats and theater floors with the enthusiastic ease of a practiced movement artist. Among his many disciplines are dance, parkour, and his biggest passion: tricking, a movement discipline that combines martial artistry with gymnastics and acrobatics.

Since beginning his career as a stunt performer, Yuri has worked with both Cirque du Soleil, joining the casts of Volta and the stunt-oriented thriller show R.U.N, as well as the stunt production company Action Horizons. He currently lives across the country from his home state, in Orlando, Florida, where he stars in “The Bourne Stuntacular”at Universal Studios.

Somewhere between the ten shows of “The Bourne Stuntacular”he does per week, Yuri graciously made the time to answer some of our most pressing questions:

What got you interested in doing stunt work?

I love editing footage together. I also love martial arts tricking. When a fight comes together on film with good choreography and timing, and the edit works well together, the finished product is often so much cooler than the stunts performed. There’s also so much trust required for stunt work, so the bonds you create with fellow stunt performers are often tighter than when working with other disciplines.

What is your dream performing job?

My dream performance job was my first job [in Volta]. I was able to do tricking, which is my specialty, and go on tour with Cirque du Soleil. If I were able to wave a magic wand and take any job that already exists out there, I’d probably want to be performing alongside the best trickers and stunt guys in Hollywood. Everything they do on screen makes me feel like a little kid again, just being inspired by everything.

What does your workout routine look like?

Working out, to me, isn’t just lifting weights. I know that if one aspect of my life isn’t up to par with the rest, everything else will be limited. Therefore, I try to make sure I don’t have any one aspect pulling me down. To me, thriving as an athlete is about balancing nutrition, sleep, prehabilitation, rest, learning, mental health, and working out.

Tricker and stunt performer Yuri Levin in colorful circus gear and body paint
Yuri Levin

What is the coolest trick you’ve ever performed?

My coolest trick was a combination colloquially called a dubdubdub. It usually takes trickers around 6-8 years of training to be able to land this one successfully. In order to land it, you need to do a backflip double full, or “dub full,” and land on one leg, then swing into a one-footed backflip double full, or “dub cork,” land that one on one foot, too, and then swing into a third double cork. All of that while on a gymnastics floor. Landing that skill was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had.

What sports or other feats of human performance inspire you?

Another feat of human performance I have huge respect for is sideshow. On the last Cirque show I was on, R.U.N., I made a friend named Andrew Stanton. The stuff he was able to do was absolutely nuts, but also very calculated, which I think is an awesome combination. He knew the anatomy of his own forearm so well that he was able to stick a needle straight through the middle of it and out the other side so precisely it didn’t even draw blood, and he could still move all of his fingers. Crazy!

He also had an act where he would put two metal hooks with rubber tips into the thin section of bone at the bottom of his eye socket, and attach them both to a metal chain. That metal chain was then hooked onto a harness which we had strapped one of our other performers into. She was this tiny dancer—maybe 120 lbs. But Andrew lifted her up by his eye socket contraption nonetheless. He even started rocking back and forth, waving her around in the air!

What has been your biggest learning along the path of your career so far?

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned during my time in the entertainment industry is humility. I always thought that the egos in tricking were warranted by their prodigious skill and dedication to the culture. When I saw other acrobats performing disciplines I hadn’t even heard of before, and with the level of perfection and grace expected from only the best of the best, my mind was blown. And my perception of the world— and more importantly, of my small sport of tricking—expanded tenfold.

Editor's Note: At StageLync, an international platform for the performing arts, we celebrate the diversity of our writers' backgrounds. We recognize and support their choice to use either American or British English in their articles, respecting their individual preferences and origins. This policy allows us to embrace a wide range of linguistic expressions, enriching our content and reflecting the global nature of our community.

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Carolyn Klein

Carolyn Klein is a writer, poet, and circus fan from the Washington, D.C, area. Writing stories about the circus has been a dream of hers since getting introduced to circus fiction around 2014. She recently completed her B.A. in English and Creative Writing, magna cum laude, at George Mason University. As a new member of the Circus Talk journalism team, Carolyn looks forward to learning as much as she can about the industry and people behind circus.