BORN PERFORMER: Faon Shane, who appeared in Cirque du Soleil's first production, is in Wellington for new circus show Soap.
IT'S very late in Berlin, where Faon Shane, a star performer in circus show Soap, lives.
Midnight is close but her five-year-old daughter Anouk is determined to stay awake. Over-tired, she breaks her mother's train of thought with a shriek. A moth has landed on her. It is, her mother reassures her, a papillon. "She's scared of bugs," says Shane. Peace reigns. Anouk gives in to sleep.
Shane, whose first language is French, is something of a performing butterfly herself. In Soap her skills are in "aerial silk" and "Chinese pole". Her acts look delicate and graceful - but they take extreme skill and strength. She and seven other acrobats execute their moves around a collection of bathtubs in what is billed as a "dazzling, daring and dangerous ... spectacle of new circus, comedy and cabaret".
American-born Shane, who made her name as a circus performer in Canada with the world famous Cirque du Soleil, is solo-parent to Anouk but has up-ended her professional life and shifted to Berlin so the little girl can be closer to her German father. Shane's trip to New Zealand will be the first time the two have been parted.
At Anouk's age, Shane was already sure she wanted to be a circus performer. At best, Anouk is interested in clowns. "She plays on the trapeze. I don't mind. I'm not a parent who pushes her. I let her be a child."
No-one pushed Shane into the circus, but, immersed in life as a performance, she was on the stage at seven.
"My parents were doing street theatre. My mother was dancing and acting on stilts and also doing ice-skating on stilts."
She watched them in Canada as a toddler and went everywhere with them.
" I wanted to be on stage at four or five, watching shows and wanting to be there."
"I'm not 20 any more. I'll eventually need to find another career. I want her to be safe with all that."
Shane has studied osteopathy for a year and done a degree in massage. She doesn't aim to be a circus performer when she's 50.
"I don't think so. I'd rather go year by year. You just need that one piece of bad luck and it can be over in one second. If you don't warm up well once and have a little injury and do the show blargh. It's different for everyone."