Coaches Nicholas Lowery and Rachel Randall are Duo Straight Up, an energetic, light-hearted Chinese pole duet, and they’re off in their new trailer to perform with a traditional traveling circus!
The last time we checked in was 2015! What has been happening with Duo Straight Up since then?
Nick: That was when our act just started out! We were still doing the original version of our act, with different music, which we performed in Up, with a Twist that year.
Rachel: We performed at two fairs in Hawaii , at “Ciudad de Las Ideas” conference in Mexico, and with the Venardos Circus for the Greater Gulf State Fair in Alabama.
Nick: Yes! We also were Tweedledum and Tweedledee for the Venardos Circus at the LA County Fair, which was an Alice in Wonderland-themed show.
What’s next for you?
Nick: We just got a giant truck and trailer and we’re ready to live the traditional circus life! We’ll be performing with the Zoppé Family Circus.
Have you been wanting to do full time circus performing for a while? This is your first major traveling show, right?
Rachel: Yeah, we’ve been wanting to perform full time. It’s tricky staying in shape and keeping your act current when you have three weeks of work and then nothing.
How do you feel about living in the trailer for six months?
Nick: I lived in a trailer [which belonged to the show] for six weeks doing the first leg of their tour and it was fine! Honestly, the trailerhas more space than our current room in Seattle and we’re excited to have our own little house on wheels.
Was it hard for you guys to be apart for the six weeks Nick was touring with Zoppe?
Rachel: Yes! I was directing the P3 show at that time so I had a lot going on, and it was hard to not have Nick there.
Nick: Of course. I think it will be much better to travel and perform together this time!
What has changed in your act?
Rachel: It’s sexier!
Nick: And the skills have improved! But older versions of the act were more comic and whimsical and now it feels a little more adult. Still PG-rated! And we’ve had to rework our act a bit to get it to fit with the theme and new music for the show.
What’s the theme of the show?
Nick: It has a traditional Italian circus vibe. All the costumes are period-looking, less modern
Rachel: Think ribbons instead of sparkles
Photo by John Cornicello
How has your act and style changed over time?
Rachel: Initially we wanted to make a playful act (our first idea for a name was “Duo Squirrel”).
Nick: It’s a simple story that we tell with the act. It’s a love story, kind of messing around with each other. There’s always little adjustments to go from one show to the next.
Rachel: But there will still be flirting! I can’t not be flirty on stage. Before it was more silly, almost slapstick. It’s gotten more and more refined, more streamlined, elegant.
Nick: Definitely our skills have gotten better.
Rachel: We have a release move we call the “princess bomb,” and I do a handstand on his head on the pole. We still have the jump-over, where I slide down and Nick jumps over me.
Photo by John Cornicello
You guys performed at Twist this year, how was that?
Rachel: Twist is always really fun.
Nick: It’s cool to do a show where there’s so many friends in the audience. The Teatro Zinzanni tent is awesome to perform in. I love that show.
What were you doing before performing and coaching was your career?
Rachel: I was a professional dancer. I’ve always coached circus as my day job. I got a catering job in January this year (that’s my first ‘real’ job).
Nick: I started working at SANCA pretty fresh after getting my bachelors degree in math. My plan was to hang out here for a year and then apply for PhD programs, but then I had so much fun doing circus stuff that I never did that.
Any advice to others who would like to get more involved with performing and possibly who want to follow in your footsteps?
Nick: Try to have a good idea of what kind of show you want to be a part of. Go see shows, try to get an idea of what kinds of opportunities exist, talk to people who are doing different kinds of shows. When I started I didn’t really have a good idea of what kinds of shows were out there as possibilities.
Rachel: It’s a little bit of a complicated question. Do you want to make a living at it, or do you want to just perform? It’s really hard to break into the full time performing, in any field. Circus does pay better than dance! Even if you do want to perform professionally in the future, you have to go out there and start performing, with the skills that you have today. Don’t think, “I’m not good enough yet, I can only juggle six balls!” You are good enough!
Nick: Yeah, get on stage! Then you learn what works and doesn’t work. You learn a lot from being in front of an audience. When you find a discipline in which you want to perform, it’s then really important to find a coach that you can work well with and trust them. Then be dedicated to practicing.
How do you stay motivated to have such a dedicated training schedule?
Rachel: We have a constitution. The Constitution of the United Forces of Duo Straight Up!
Haha, that is amazing. Can you share anything on it?
1. If you aren’t barfing, you have to train.
2. Don’t be too grumpy in the morning.
(Rachel: I hate training in the morning).
3. Push each other.
4. Stay positive.
Those are some great guidelines!
Bon voyage! Merde! and we’ll see you down the road!