“After competing in trampoline at the 2000 Olympics, Lee Brearley of Britain went on to performing double flips on stage in a zoot suit… First time on Broadway, and I wear a skirt, he said of his costume for the Cleopatra scene in Paramour, the Cirque du Soleil musical… At the moment, 21 Olympians — two of them medalists — perform in eight United States-based Cirque du Soleil shows. Jeffrey Wammes, a gymnast from the Netherlands who ended his career in Rio, is about to make it 22.” K. Whiteside, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: For Some Athletes, Olympic Rings Give Way to the Circus Ring-By Kelly Whiteside, The New York Times
“By the time the Rio Olympics concluded Sunday, many athletes had gone home to begin or resume other careers. Maya DiRado, an American swimmer who won four medals in Rio, has said that a business analyst job awaits her. The Canadian distance runner Lanni Marchant is a criminal defense lawyer.
A number of Olympic gymnasts fall into a different, hair-raising pipeline, filling roles in the ever-expanding universe of Cirque du Soleil. In all, about 40 percent of Cirque’s performers come from artistic, rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics backgrounds, as well as from trampoline, tumbling, diving and synchronized swimming.
For Cirque, recruiting high-caliber athletes is almost a no-brainer, said the company’s creative director, Fabrice Becker, who won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle skiing for France at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Cirque, for instance, conducted a workshop with the Canadian national halfpipe team this year.
Still, the transition from serious competitor to performer can be challenging. As if it were not hard enough to nail a somersault on a trampoline, try doing it while in costume — perhaps as a cricket, with six legs…Some athletes find the transition fairly smooth.
Terry Bartlett competed in gymnastics at three Olympics for Britain and retired after the Barcelona Games in 1992. Unsure of what to do next, he stumbled on a Cirque du Soleil audition while on vacation in California and accepted a job as an acrobat in Mystère in Las Vegas.After his acrobatic skills began to wane, Bartlett turned to clowning almost 10 years ago.
At 52, he now stars in Cirque wearing a loosey-goosey sailor suit, a clown nose and shoes the size of flippers. Instead of twists and tumbles, there are slapstick and high jinks.”
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The Rio Olympics concluded Sunday.
- Many athletes go home to begin or resume other careers.
- You show people your best, but not in a competitive way.
- For Cirque recruiting high-caliber athletes is fun.
- Searching for athletes is almost a no-brainer.
- The transition from serious competitor to performer can be challenging.
- Terry Bartlett stumbled on Cirque du Soleil.
- They were holding an audition for an acrobat.
- Some performers are known for their somersaults.
- The performances appear like a blur of a circle.
Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list or make up your own words.
In the show’s ___moment,___and Dick Tracy-esque ___stage an elaborate chase-and-fight___ on rooftops. Bodies ___in midair like___juggling pins, nearly___. Fourteen___and actors share the___ before the focus narrows on Brearley for his solo.
WORD LIST: paparazzi, crisscross, climatic, mayhem, scene, characters, human, colliding, acrobats.
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Terry Bartlett competed/completed in gymnastics at tree/three Olympics for Britain and retreated/retired after the Barcelona Games in 1992. Unsure of what/which to do next, he stumbled on a Cirque du Soleil audition/audio while on vacation/vacate in California and accepted/excepted a job as an acrobat in “Mystère” in Las Vegas.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3 questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.