The Athertons, currently staying home to flatten the curve in Hamburg, Germany, are no different. OK, that’s a lie. Fifty per cent of this family’s members (all the grown-ups) happen to be Cirque du Soleil artists. The other half are their super-flexible offspring. What they’re doing in their living room is nothing like what any of us are doing in ours.
On Sunday, as part of the “Stronger Together/Tous Ensemble” benefit concert to support Canadian frontline health workers and Food Banks Canada, the family of six took the living-room-performance genre to new heights with a glorious display of multigenerational acrobatics.
Their act, choreographed to the Cirque du Soleil song “Alegria,” incorporated incredible feats of balance, strength and bendiness, as well as showcasing some expert-level jumping on the sofa by the two youngest performers: Kaysen, 5, and his cousin Luca. 2.
The two-household family is a pandemic superpod of sorts. They live in the same building, in two apartments, and are socially distancing together. The full family comprises Gasya, who is married to Andrew, who is the identical twin brother of Kevin. Gasya and Andrew have two kids, Kamali (7) and Kaysen, and Kevin has one, Luca.
After Cirque du Soleil gave them a day to put something together for the benefit concert, the family got straight to work. “We [grown-ups] choreographed the acrobatics we would do in the act, and we let the kids explore what they wanted to do,” explained Kevin, in an interview with HuffPost Canada.
“The jumping on the sofa happens every day here, except when their granny’s in town. We just hope our landlord doesn’t see the video.”
While it’s unlikely there’s any other family in the world that could have pulled off such a performance at such short notice, in many other ways, the Athertons are just like us. The three parents talked with us about what pandemic life looks like over video chat, while the kids were busy colouring (until they got restless and started turning cartwheels in the background).
Right now Gasya, Andrew and Kevin are homeschooling their pint-sized daredevils ...
Doing arts and crafts at the kitchen table to keep busy under lockdown ...
And getting lots of fresh air on socially distanced family bike trips or walks.
Their strategies for limiting screen time may be unconventional ...
But truth be told, screens are rarely an issue for this active bunch.
“Since we’ve been in quarantine all together, the kids have wanted to watch their iPads less. Sometimes it’s nine o’clock at night, and we say, ‘Kids, go and watch your iPads, but they’re still doing handstands.’” said Andrew.
One of the highlights of the family choreography is when Kamili gets onto her mother’s back and the two do some perfectly timed upside-down splits in motion, cling-on koala bear-style. If that doesn’t sound like the name of an actual acrobatics move, it’s because it’s not. “It’s more like a mother-daughter thing that just happened when she was with me at training; it doesn’t have a name,” said Gasya.
Kamili first tried this out at the age of three, when she was watching her mom practicing balances on the mat and just started to copy what she was doing. Gasya asked Andrew to put her daughter on her back, and the tot just kept copying her mother’s movements, only upside down.
That would explain why family story time quickly ended up looking like this...
The Atherton family’s pandemic life is not unlike the time they take between Cirque du Soleil shows around the world, just relaxing and being together as much as possible.
They’ve lived in places like New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as Europe, Latin America and Montreal, where the Cirque du Soleil headquarters is. It makes for an exciting childhood:
“The kids have friends all over the world, and while they sometimes want to stay in a certain place longer, they’ll also say they’re excited to leave and make new friends,” said Andrew.
Asked where her favourite home from home was so far, Kamili paused for a moment then announced, “Mexico.”
See! The Athertons. Told you they were just like us.
Watch their amazing family performance in the video below.