World champion baton twirler Jennifer Marcus has returned to Miami this winter, but not because she’s spending the holidays at her childhood home in Kendall. Instead, Marcus is back to dazzle audiences as a performer with the Cirque du Soleil show Volta.
Marcus began baton-twirling at Miami’s Heritage Elementary School, when her mom signed her up for the sport as an extracurricular activity. She continued throughout her time at Southwood Middle, Miami Palmetto High, and Florida State University, where she was a featured baton twirler. A successful Orlando audition with Cirque du Soleil in 2006 placed Marcus in the show’s talent bank, and a decade later, when she was on her honeymoon in Hawaii, Cirque asked her to join the team.
“It's a dream job as it is, and now that I'll get to perform in front of my family and friends when I grew up seeing [Cirque’s] shows, it's a cliché, but it's a dream come true,” Marcus says. “It's exhilarating and exciting, but it also makes me nervous because I want to impress everyone I love down here.”
Volta’s tagline is “Find your free,” and for Marcus, that’s exactly what baton twirling has allowed her to do. “I found my free onstage by sharing and performing my sport,” she says.
Marcus performs a solo act in the show, but she is accustomed to taking center stage. The Miami native has twirled in competitions in 15 countries, and she has earned 33 world championship medals, 16 of which are gold. Though she loved twirling, Marcus always pictured herself as a writer. She majored in public relations and minored in journalism at FSU, where she also completed her master's in sports management.
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“The idea was probably to go into that field, but while still competing at the top level for Team USA, it wasn’t possible to have my training schedule and travel the world,” Marcus says. She had previously written travel stories and restaurant reviews, but she began working at Lululemon because the company was “really supportive” of her commitment to her sport.
Now, as a Cirque performer, Marcus has a schedule that's no less hectic. When the show is touring, she's constantly on the road. After a short stint in South Florida, she’ll leave again to travel around North America before heading overseas. Marcus now lives in Fort Lauderdale, but she’s still a Miami girl at heart. In her spare time, she hopes to check out Wynwood Walls and visit some of her favorite restaurants and sites in Miami Beach and Brickell.
“I’ve been on the road for the past year living in other cities, and it's been incredible, but there's no place like home, and this is home for me,” Marcus says. “This is where my family is and all my favorite restaurants and coffee shops. I feel like I have a new appreciation of home by being away.”
Cirque du Soleil's Volta. Friday, December 15, through February 4, 2018, under the big top next to Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; hardrockstadium.com. Tickets cost $40 to $255 via cirquedusoleil.com.