Iranian-born Canadian Nobahar Dadui was getting ready to hang up her skates when she got a surprise phone call from an unexpected company: Cirque du Soleil.
The famed contemporary-circus troupe was workshopping a new show on ice and was looking for talent. Dadui, still a young 26 after years of competitive figure skating and professional shows on cruise ships and in theme parks, was game for a change.
Now the athlete has become an acrobat, taking a starring role as the title character in Crystal, Cirque’s first show set on a frozen surface—an NHL–sized one, to be exact.
“What I found out was that I would be flying, and I was going to be in straps,” she says of the aerial routine she performs in the show—while wearing skates. Dadui is speaking to the Straightfrom a tour stop in Arizona, before Crystal heads to Abbotsford, the closest it will get to Vancouver. “It took me out of my comfort zone—but what’s good is that I don’t care about comfort zones,” she adds with a laugh. Even after years of competition in her chosen sport, the physical challenges of the acrobatic show were formidable: “I had done gymnastics when I was young, but it took me long hours to get upper-body strength. I couldn’t even do half a pull-up when I started.”