Queen of the Night's Sexy New Couple Performs an Uncommon Balancing Act
Virginia Tuells and Ihosvanys Perez share their stories and show off their hot new look for the popular interactive circus at Diamond Horseshoe.
Husband-and-wife balancing act Virginia Tuells and Ihosvanys (pronounced "Giovanni") Perez have been performing together in various circuses for eight years, but this summer they've stepped into something quite different: Queen of the Night.
Based loosely on the Mozart opera Die Zauberflöte, Queen of the Night takes the form of a hedonistic European debutante ball, with you playing the part of the honored guest. Drinks flow and dinner is served at this completely immersive and interactive show. Meanwhile, amazing circus performers exhibit their talents, on- and offstage.
It's a very different venue for Tuells and Perez, who have spent their entire careers with traditional big-top traveling circuses. Tuells originally hails from Argentina and Perez grew up in Cuba. Neither was raised into a circus family. The pair spoke with TheaterMania about their fascinating journey to the circus, each other, and Queen of the Night.
How did you start performing?
Virginia Tuells: We've always loved acrobatics and doing crazy stuff with our bodies. We both began with gymnastics, but I started to really love the circus arts. When you like to do acrobatics, the circus allows you to do something more artistic. You can use your creativity to put an act together. Costumes, music, choreography: It's a way to express yourself.
Ihosvanys Perez: I did gymnastics from age six through eighteen. Then I went to circus school in Havana. After graduation, I toured with the Cuban circus and then I got a contract in Mexico. That's where I met Virginia.
When did you decide you wanted to work together?
Virginia: We were doing separate acts. We fell in love and started to practice some things together. In the circus, if you perform in different acts it's very hard to stay together working in the same company.
Ihosvanys: The first year we were together, that was the problem. Virginia had a contract and I went to another country. The main reason we decided to create this act was to stay together.
What's special about the act?
Virginia: Our act is hand-to-hand balancing. Normally the man lifts the woman in that situation, but I actually lift Ihosvanys...and I do it in high heels.
Ihosvanys: That's the hardest part!
Do you have to wear special reinforced heels for something like that?
Virginia: They have to be stable but flexible. It looks funny if we use a hard shoe. We want to keep the shape of the legs. Like every woman, I want to look glamorous and pretty and feminine. That's why I started to practice with heels. It's harder than being on the floor with regular shoes, but I think it looks cute.
Ihosvanys, you're heavier than Virginia. How do you make that work?
Ihosvanys: The first time we started practicing, it was really tough. Virginia weighs 105 pounds and I weigh 165 pounds, so it's a lot of work for her. After a lot of practice, we were able to create the act we do today.
Virginia: I naturally have a lot of strength, so I wanted to try and see what happens. We noticed the reaction from people around us when we were successfully performing these lifts and I saw how it could really work. In this world of the circus it's very important to do something different. This was a very different act.
Click below to see a video of Ihosvanys Perez and Virginia Tuells performing:
You also incorporate elements of tango into your act. Why did you decide to do that?
Ihosvanys: I was raised in Cuba dancing salsa, but Virginia is from Argentina.
Virginia: I've always loved the classic styles from the thirties and forties. Tango is elegant and strong. Our act is both of those things, so tango was a natural fit.
How has the routine changed for Queen of the Night?
Virginia: In Queen of the Night the act is a little different, because we're all over the room. When you work in a traditional circus, most of the time you work on a platform, so you're limited to the small space inside the platform. Now we have more freedom to move into the space and play with the other characters. It gives more power to the performance.
Ihosvanys: Also, in a traditional circus you're performing for a family audience. This show is a little more sensual. You don't feel any hesitation to go there.
Virginia: You don't feel limited. Here, we can be even sexier. People like it...We're in a part of the show called "orgy." When you're able to adapt your skills to different venues, you really grow as an artist.
The show is also interactive. How have you adapted to that?
Virginia: When you perform in a traditional circus, there is a wall between the audience and you. In this place, you're always interacting with the audience members, so you have to know what you want and make an impression early on. By the time you're performing, they already have a relationship with you. It's the little things you do, like a glance or a word. They remember that for a long time.