Christianne Sainz makes the life in the circus look simple.
Not only does she perform trampoline stunts for the Stand Up 8 circus troupe, she also serves as the gymnastics program director at Lake Owen camp in Cable, Wisc., and teaches gymnastics to preschool-aged children in Los Angeles, Calif., the place she calls “home base.”
Sainz is a five-time national trampoline champion and Grand Valley State University alumna. She graduated with a degree in theatre in 2006.
Sainz took up trampoline about ten years ago when her gym closed its gymnastics program. She was faced with a choice: either quit gymnastics or learn trampoline.
Now a member of Stand Up 8, her athletic skills have come in handy when learning circus tricks.
The first day she learned to climb fabrics hanging from the ceiling, her trainers warned her she probably would not reach the ceiling.
“But the first day, I got to the top,” she said.
She just did not know how to get back to the floor.
In addition to fabrics, Sainz has also learned partner balancing and fire eating. She will also demonstrate a bit of tumbling at the GVSU exhibition.
During her years at GVSU, Sainz said she still went to trampoline practice, but athletics took a backseat to her new passion, her studies in theatre.
“I would just go when I was able to go, but trampoline came second,” she said.
Her theatre background spring-boarded her to success in the modern Stand Up 8 performance. She learned her lines with ease and spoke before crowds of people with confidence.
In college, Sainz had aspirations of joining Cirque du Soleil. However, her life plans changed when Alison Williams gave a workshop at GVSU. Sainz jumped at the chance for an introduction with the artistic director.
“My dreams and everything shifted,” Sainz said. “Alison wanted to do trampoline (in Stand Up 8), and really the reason trampoline is in the show is because of me.”
Sainz joined Stand Up 8, and the circus now features her as its leading trampolinist.
She lives a fast-paced life, and although she entered the circus because of her skills on the trampoline, she said she does not get to practice as much as she once did.
“Between my many jobs, lately I have been super busy,” she said. “I don’t get to bounce very often anymore unless I am doing a show.”
However, she enjoys her life in the circus and wants other GVSU students to find careers they enjoy, too.
“I am very proud of where I am,” she said. “The word for (GVSU students) is to do something that you love.”