Not so enthused with the job market? Go hang yourself... upside down from 40-foot silk scarves, that is.
Victoria Pike! -- exclamation intended -- isn't even out of high school, but she's already setting her sights on an untraditional career path: the circus. The quirky 16-year-old has spent the past two years learning how to suspend herself above crowds, walk on stilts, and "fire dance."
"I (wanted) to try something exciting and filled with adrenaline opposed to the Hamster-wheel exercise mind set that has been established over time," she says. It hasn't been easy.
So far, Pike! has had to endure "crazy Russian trainers," a crazy workout routine, and skeptical parents, but her goal is to one day (gently) land a job with French-Canadian company Cirque du Soleil.
The New World School of the Arts student first became fascinated with the circus two years ago when she attended a youth fair in Miami.
"There was this girl trying to do tricks on the ropes," she remembers. "I said, 'wow. This girl is horrible. I bet I could do better than her.'" But when Pike! showed up for her first aerialist class, she got a harsh lesson.
"I saw people doing it and thought it would be easy," says Pike, whose parents are gymnastics teachers in North Miami. "But when I tried, I couldn't go anywhere. I was so bad, so naturally, I had to stay until I got better."
She can now contort her body into pretzel-like shapes while suspended four stories above the ground. Pike! works out four to five times a week, including nightly ab exercises with her dad set to a Ke$ha soundtrack. She hopes to attend the National Circus School in Montreal, but her parents have doubts.
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"About once a month I get the college reality check given to me," she says. "My parents say: 'Ha ha. That's cute. But where are you going to be applying to real college?' But they have always supported me and they want me to be happy." As a compromise, she might attend Florida State, which has a circus program.
But, as with any profession, the road to circus glory is paved with smaller gigs. Pike! will be performing in a free "Gravity Attacks" show on Nov. 12 at the Arsht Center. After that, she hopes to land a gig spinning a web of silk above a DJ during next year's Ultra Music Festival.
"In the U.S. people hear 'circus' and think of Ringling Brothers," she says. "But Cirque du Soleil mixes together music, dance, and acrobats and all these different elements that you wouldn't have thought of... How awesome would that job be?"