Adrienn Banhegyi is a 28-year-old Hungarian master skip-roper. What one might consider child’s play is, for Banhegyi, a sport of Olympian proportions: As a member of Hungary’s National Skipping Team, she won European and international competitions. Her sister is also an elite skip-roper. Banhegyi will be bringing her rope repertoire to D.C. as a soloist in Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam,” a story of a young girl who, like Alice, tumbles down a rabbit hole and escapes a dreary and ordinary life by slipping into an imaginary universe, where she meets, among other characters, the skip-ropers. The North American tour of “Quidam” will come to Washington on Nov. 16.
“It was actually my dad’s idea [to start skip-roping]. He saw it on TV 18 years ago and he thought it was a great sport to improve coordination and conditioning at the same time. At first we were experimenting, just trying out tricks, and then we found out real competition exists.
“Since my dad is a physical-education teacher and a former professional soccer player, he always wanted [my siblings and me] to do something on a very high level. We were searching for the sport we could be really good at. . . . I didn’t expect it would be jump-rope. But I found it very attractive, because you can be creative, work as an individual, or with a partner or a team. There are a lot of different ways to express your personality, to be innovative.
“My sister is also in Cirque du Soleil. . . . We are sharing the character. . . . She does 10 weeks and then I do 10 weeks. It was a dream coming true for us; we never thought we’d be performing in the same show.
“In ‘Quidam,’ the jump-rope is a group act. [There are] about 20 people out on the stage at the same time. It’s a very cheerful and energetic act, with funky music.
“Normally what we do for Cirque [is] a three-week training in Montreal. After these three weeks, we get to the actual site where the tour is, and we have another week or two of rehearsals. And that’s the most challenging part. . . . In the group, it has to be synchronized, and that’s a big challenge. Normally we train four times a week and we still have to do the shows on those days. It’s very demanding.
“I would say [my style] is a little boyish. I like speed, I like power. . . . You have a lot to play with the body gestures, but I like power things, more powerful than what you see usually on the stage.
“I really like the release — when you release one of the handles and catch it again. It’s a risky thing, because you have to have the timing right. You have to focus, but it’s part of my routine in the show.
“I think [to be a skip-roper], first and very important, you need very good coordination [and] good timing, because you have to work with your arms and legs at the same time. For sure, you need a certain level of conditioning, of fitness, so you can last a long time. It helps if you have a little bit of gymnastic background, because we do acrobatic skills.
“The whole story [of ‘Quidam’] is about the little girl going through different adventures when she’s ignored by her parents, and jump-rope brings a cheerful, fun part to her life. It’s like a playground . . . and it brings a lot of energy.”
Verizon Center, Nov. 16 -20, cirquedusoleil.com