What’s it like to travel the globe with the highest class of professional dancers and acrobats on a world tour in honor of the most influential musician ever? Most people can only dream of having such an opportunity, but for Pom Arnold, Shondra Leigh, Thomas Hubener, Mike Cameron, Irakli Gelozia and Levan Torchinava visiting two cities a week and performing multiple times in each city for an entire three years as part of Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour, it's just another day.
It’s hard for most of us to imagine that their "every day" is what so many of us aspire to have. Traveling, entertainment and excitement is all in a day’s work. But for this talented group of performers, life on the road has its disadvantages too. They crave home-cooked meals, outdoor activities and familiar faces.
My wife and I met this stylin’ crew of dancers and acrobats this past January when they strolled into our shop, Ohana Board Shop, looking for accessories to make their skateboards flashier, faster and more personalized. They opt to ride skateboards around each of the new cities they travel in, so they can tour it and get where they want to go faster than on foot.
We’ve since met up with them at three locations on their world tour and we’ve found fun and exciting activities in which to partake with them at each stop. When we heard they would be stopping in San Antonio, Texas, we were stoked to introduce them to one of the things we know best – a day of wakeboarding and indoor trampolines at Texas Ski Ranch!
When I pitched the idea to Dave about me heading out to Texas he was so stoked on it that he decided to get a plane ticket as well and join in on the fun. He was even more stoked on being able to go backstage and see what goes on behind the scenes before and during the Cirque du Soleil show.
We began our journey in San Antonio following Pom, Shondra and Mike to a Master Dance Class where they made a guest appearance and taught a class. To see the talent they possess on the dance floor is crazy, but even better is how much fun they have doing it.
They do things because they love it and it’s fun! That is exactly why Texas Ski Ranch was a perfect place to visit during their stop in Texas. The following morning we got an early start and loaded up two cars full of people and bags and headed out to TSR. When we arrived we ran into a few people that recognized Dave Williams from America's Most Wanted…errr…I mean WakeWorld.
After catching up with friends, we met up with Blake Hess who runs TSR. Blake gave us a run down on the day and got us geared up. Blake mentioned that they had a new trampoline park, which he let us check out before it was opened to the public. For a bunch of dancers and acrobats, it was like kids in a candy store! It was amazing to watch everyone jumping, flipping and twirling on the trampolines, especially acrobat Thomas as he put together a full run across all the trampolines.
After we got our fill of bouncing, we headed over to the cables to do some wakeboarding. We started off on the smaller two-tower cable system, so everyone could get used to riding a cable. The crew had tried wakeboarding behind the boat once, but this was they’re first time on a cable. After about 30 minutes or so, everyone was itching to get on the main cable to get their shred on!
The guys working at the main cable were really nice in explaining the rules and how to take off of the dock. Right off the start Mike, Pom and Thomas had no problems starting off the dock and making it around the lake. They even had a little style in their riding! Levan had a few rough starts, but quickly got the hang of it and made it around the lake with a huge grin.
Speaking of grins, Irakli had a permanent grin on his face. It was pretty hilarious because he was taking some serious face slappers and would just come up smiling ear to ear. His attitude was really positive and it passed on to all of us, which made us all have a great time…except for Dave Williams.
Dave had his game face on! Dave actually impressed me on this trip (not that I would actually tell him that). He went for it and threw down some stylish grabs off of the kicker and hit the big rail as well as some of the other rails. I didn't know he had it in him. Well done, Dave!
While we were all playing in the water Shondra took a break from riding, got a little R&R and soaked up the sun and turned heads doing it!
After a hot day full of lots of riding, we all decided to wrap it up as we had to be back to the AT&T Center for the show that evening. We said our goodbyes and we chatted with Blake and his family for a bit and came to find out that his wife is a dance instructor, so she was super hyped on meeting the crew and got some photos with them to hang at her school.
As we were walking back to the car we got hit with a reality check. We drove here with two cars packed and now we only had one car because my wife had to leave early with one so she could catch a plane. Well, things got a bit interesting, but being that this crew is pretty flexible, all eight of us were able to squeeze into one car and made it back in time for the crew to get to the show!
Dave and I ended up going backstage with the crew and got a tour of some pretty crazy stuff. It’s an incredibly huge and elaborate production that features the band that toured with Michael Jackson! Just to see what goes into making the show happen is pretty impressive. From the wardrobe to the stage and everything in between is mind boggling. Once the backstage tour was over, we headed out to the arena to meet up with Blake and his family to watch the show. It was a real treat to see our friends, along with the whole Michael Jackson Immortal family, put on an amazing show for the 10,000 plus people in the sold out arena.
A break from the norm is sometimes needed even when your norm is living a dream... But really, taking a break, to go wakeboarding is a dream also!