STM's Got Talent Deidra and Desrée Lockhart: High Flying Circus Performers
By: Marissa Foley
Imagine swinging, twisting, and balancing on a hoop suspended in mid-air – defying gravity. Seemingly fantastical for most, this is just an average day for two of STM’s newest additions, Deidra and Desrée Lockhart, bona fide circus performers.
For the past three years, these identical twins have been training at Zacada Circus School, studying various circus disciplines including acrobatics, tumbling, the mini-trampoline, silks and acting. However their specialty is the aerial hoop, which is similar to a hula hoop suspended from the ceiling. Circus performers, like Deidra and Desrée, perform aerial acrobatics within the hoop when it is stationary, swinging, or even spinning.
With their circus school they travel to various festivals and venues across southern Ontario showcasing their extraordinary and daring talent. Most recently, they performed at the Harbour Front Festival in Toronto.
Prior to their adventures in the circus, these tiny firecrackers were involved in competitive gymnastics. During their early years of gymnastics, at around age 6, their papa took them to see their first Cirque show and you could say they were inspired. They eventually decided to leave gymnastics and turned to circus performing because they “…didn’t want to be bored.”
Transitioning from gymnastics to the circus proved to have its challenges but Deidra and Desrée explain that it has been a much more unifying and rewarding experience. Where they were once gymnastic rivals often rooting for the other to stumble in pursuit of a better score, these sisters are now partners. But the circus extends past just the two of them; they work with several other performers, all striving to present the best show possible. Desrée highlighted the difference between gymnastics and circus, explaining that “at the circus, we are all a family. It’s a team effort.”
Regardless of this admirable sense of community and friendship in the circus, it is still hard work. There is a lot of grueling conditioning, intense stretching, and blister-inducing practice that comes with aerial hoops. “You’re not going to have pretty hands when you’re in the circus”, said Deidra.
When asked to describe a standard day at circus school, the girls told me about their class the night before: “Yesterday was busy and we only had 10 minutes to do conditioning, so we had to do 100 push-ups.”
This seems to be anecdotal proof of their dedication to their craft, which explains why they were accepted to the National Circus School summer program. Located in Montreal, this prestigious school only accepts 40 students internationally and Deidra and Desrée have had the opportunity to attend not just once, but twice!
Through all of their training and performing, these acrobatic adventurers have made one brilliant discovery - the reason behind what they do. Both Deidra and Desrée rave about the motivation and energy that they draw from an audience; it is an almost surreal experience for them every time.
“People come to shows just to see us, and so we want to show them everything we can do!” said Desrée.
Deidra went on to explain how the audience and thrill of performing reignites her love of hoops and the circus by saying, “When I do hoop, sometimes before I start I think ‘I really don’t want to do this’, but as soon as I step on the stage I know I want to do this forever.”
Deidra and Desrée, hilarious twins, exude an obvious passion for their aerial hoops and circus performing. Their contagious optimism in what they do will take them far and allow them to share their unique talent with the world.