Wellington Lima: Winner of CircusTalk’s first-ever Members’ Voice Award! - StageLync

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Wellington Lima: Winner of CircusTalk’s first-ever Members’ Voice Award!

Wellington Lima—or Palhaçada, as many know him—is a world-renowned circus performer with over 25 years of Cirque du Soleil experience. In addition to his presence on the stage, in his role as a personal trainer and instructor teaching gymnastics; trampoline; and capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, music, and spirituality; Lima has made a powerful and irreplaceable impact on his community and the world alike. In this article, we take a deep dive into Wellington’s fascinating career and present you with the opportunity to get to know this one-of-a-kind performer with a heart as big as his dreams.

Presented alongside this year’s Circus Ring of Fame Foundation’s annual Inductee Ceremony on February 2023, CircusTalk and the Ring partnered up to launch the first-ever CircusTalk Members’ Voice Award. The Members’ Voice Award recognizes a circus artist whose work demonstrates courageous expression, social relevance, and artistic and technical acumen. Out of an impressive pool of 25 incredible, multi-talented artists nominated from the CircusTalk community, the iconic Cirque du Soliel acrobat and devoted teacher Wellington Lima was named as the recipient of this prestigious accomplishment! Let’s take a closer look at what Wellington had to say about his journey in the circus arts, future aspirations, sources of inspiration, words of wisdom, and expressions of gratitude! 

Julia Grace Lumpkin (JGL): How did you get your start in the circus industry? 

Wellington Lima (WL): My first formal contact with the circus was a program that Cirque du Soleil used to have for youth called Cirque du Monde. This was in 1996; I was 16 years old at the time, and already involved with capoeira, gymnastics, and the trampoline. [More specifically,] I was a circus instructor at an institution called Escola Pernambucana de Circo (the Pernambucana School of Circus), teaching some basic acrobatics, stilt walking, low wire, trampoline, and mini trampoline, and training in competitive trampoline in my time off.

At the time, that was one of the most important jobs of my life, not only because it was my first official job with which I bought my first bicycle, but because l got to see life transformations in what I was doing with the kids and youth. Many of them would often come [to Pernambucana] because it was a place where they could get fed, but they were also feeding their life and passion for the circus. I truly believe that the inspiration from all the activities they learned there will stay forever in my heart.

A few months after being there, one of the traditional circuses in Brazil, Grande Circo Popular Do Brasil, stopped by my hometown. I connected with many of the artists from the show—often they would come to practice at Escola Pernambucana. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was a big deal because they were super talented artists… and yet, they would come to train with me, and I would share with them some new techniques in acrobatics on the trampoline. Among the artists that were in the same house troupe, I worked with Roberto Silva, the first Brazilian to work for Cirque du Soleil as an acrobat in MYSTÈRE, and eventually, the other three artists that were there would join the shows ALEGRÍA and VAREKAI. 

Eventually, the circus packed up to leave town, and they invited me to come and perform with them in a few cities. I was hesitant because I was still in school and had my job with Pernambucana, but I also needed money to go to the National Trampoline Competition. 

In the end, I was able to join them, and it was an incredible experience, not only because it helped me to work in a traditional circus show, but it also helped me when I eventually joined the creation of LA NOUBA doing the trampwall.

Later on, in 1997, I was part of Brazil’s National Trampoline Competition and won, allowing me to qualify to join the national team in Rio de Janeiro.

One performer Wellington Lima does a handstand during the 2015 Run Away With Cirque du Soleil. Special to View | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Wellington Lima does a handstand during the 2015 “Run Away With Cirque Du Soleil”

The week that I arrived in Rio de Janeiro to train with the team, Cirque du Soleil was hosting an audition at the National Circus School. I went there to observe the audition and asked them if I could be part of it. Out of the 120 participants, ten were selected, and only four went directly from Brazil to join in the creation of LA NOUBA. l was the only acrobat that accepted the invitation. However, it was a hard decision for me, because I had finally made it to the national trampoline team, and it had been one of my dreams to represent Brazil in the world championship. Yet after Cirque du Soliel repeatedly asked me to join them, I gave it a go, and the rest is history. 

JGL: What is one word to describe what your performing arts journey has been like? 

WL: REWARDING! 

JGL: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in all your experiences? 

WL: To not allow yourself to get too settled. Things can come and go at any time, and there is a price to pay for what you do. Our body, mind, and soul need as much care as our performance time… but, when you are on stage, don’t forget that it’s a privilege and a blessing to touch other people’s lives with what we do.

JGL: Among a vast selection pool of talented artists, you were recognized for your courageous artistic expression, social relevance, and artistic and technical acumen. In terms of your achievements, accomplishments, and hopes for the future, what does being the first-ever CircusTalk Members’ Voice Award winner mean to you? 

WL: First of all, l am grateful, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that voted for me and still believes in me. It was an honor to be nominated among so many great artists that are actually making a difference in the world, but at the same time, I cannot deny my constant effort to impact positively the world with what I do. Whenever I have time off, I look for opportunities to teach workshops or go talk to some of the institutions that teach youth—organizations that are just beginning, or young artists aspiring to perform professionally. It’s important to remind those artists that your dream can come true, but you have to have discipline, believe in yourself, and pay your due diligence. 

Out of the many awesome things about this recognition and this award, one thing that is especially awesome is that it inspires me to continue listening to my heart and get together with other artists to impact the world even more. Thank you very much again.

JGL: In your opinion, what can we expect from the future of this industry?

WL: A collaboration between humans and robots. Why not?

Com trampolim, Wellington foi do Ibura a Las Vegas
Wellington with his beloved students

JGL: Who continues you inspire you? Friends, family, coaches, peers? Why do they inspire you?

WL:If I have to select, there are a handful of people that are dear to my heart, and they still impact me to this day…

Just to name a few, Daniel Cola, one my first coach from Cirque; my capoeira master, Mestre Lazaro; and many of my coaches in Brazil: Claudio Urbini (in memory), Sergio Bastos, Eron, Pedro, Seu Jose, Jorge Bezerra, etc….

But if I have to choose one person that still impacts me to this day, I would say the kids that I teach. When they come to class, they come to have a moment of joy and connectivity, especially when we combine capoeira, acrobatics, and circus. I learn so much from them.

JGL: Any words of wisdom or thank yous?

WL: Yes, definitely. Please don’t get discouraged; life is a beautiful journey with ups and downs, just like a trampoline. Don’t be afraid to ask— if you don’t find the answer that you are looking for, take your time to ask a better question, or look for other people that are open to supporting your dreams. One day, you will realize that all the things that you wanted were not necessarily what you needed. Take your time to see the beauty and be touched by the simplicity in the world. The last thing: go do your magic! The world needs you, and it can’t wait to see you shine… now,VAI! (GO!)And thanks to everyone that took the time to read a little bit about my life journey, my inspirations, and my passions. Much love to you all. 

Following our conversation, I was able to reflect on what an honor it was to speak with Wellington. He was candid and articulate, recounting his life story and describing his circus passions with great enthusiasm and purpose. Wellington was a delight to interview and we could not be more proud to award this incredible, humble, and high-achieving artist with our very first Members’ Voice Award!

To learn more about the Circus Ring of Fame Award Ceremony and view the full recording of the ceremony, visit the article below!

The Circus Ring of Fame Foundation™ 35th Annual Inductee and Award Ceremony

CircusTalk

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