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Juggler brings unusual skills to 'Dralion' show

Pierre Bertrand

When observing Vladislav Myagkostupov juggling, don't blink, or you'll be sure to miss something.

Give him seven juggling balls and a flat surface, and Myagkostupov will turn juggling into something hypnotizing, animalistic and full of acrobatics.

Myagkostupov, a resident of Las Vegas, is not in Austin out of the blue. He's a juggler and acrobatic dancer, one of 52 performers in the new "Cirque du Soleil" production "Dralion." The show, which fuses both Eastern (dragon) and Western (lion) influences, opens today and runs through March 20 at the Cedar Park Center.

Trained by his parents, both of whom performed with the Moscow circus, Myagkostupov was immersed in circus life almost from the beginning. As a child, he traveled with his parents' troupe all over the globe until his seventh birthday. His parents trained him in dance at age 4, and by the time he was 6, he was juggling. His first public performances were in malls. He was 8. A year later, he had his own professional career.

"I just of grew up into that," Myagkostupov said. "Yeah, it wasn't easy, because I went to school in the morning and then after school I would come back — I would practice — then at night I would have the show. I would do my homework in between the show, and then wake up and then go back to school. So it was a pretty busy schedule."

His first professional engagement lasted three months and was in a casino in Wendover, Nev.

His juggling technique became more and more complicated. Splits were incorporated. Body rolls, the backs of his hands and feet, and even his neck and chin eventually would become part of his routine.

"I was just juggling first, then I got to a level that was high enough for me to try new things out — just incorporating — make it more interesting, so I started adding movement and started adding acrobatics," Myagkostupov said.

His job takes Myagkostupov, 27, around the world. He has performed in Paris, Monte Carlo and 28 other cites.

"Dralion" will feature trampolines and various balancing acts not typical of either Chinese or Western circuses, as well as costumes reminiscent of Indian and South Asian silks. The show premiered in 1999 in Montreal and has since appeared all over North America and Europe. This year, "Dralion" will play in more than 30 U.S. cities.

"It's an amazing show. It's different from any of the other Cirque shows because it actually combines the traditional Chinese circus with the modern avant-garde style of Cirque du Soleil, so it's pretty special," Myagkostupov said.

'Dralion'

Tickets: $40-$80 for adults, $32-$65 for children under 12 and $36-$67.50 for seniors, students and military.

When: March 10 - 20

Info: www.cirquedu soleil.com/dralion or 1-800-745-3000.

Where: Cedar Park Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars.