For Two Circus Performers, Love Takes Flight on and Off the Floor


For circus performers, it takes loads to face out at a competition. However when Ryan Shinji Murray heard about how Juanita Cardenas arrived on the Montreal Complètement Cirque competition in 2015, he was intrigued.

“I heard {that a} couple folks had ridden their bikes from Brooklyn to Montreal and I assumed, I would like to hang around with these folks,” recalled Mr. Murray, 35, a performer who had been touring then as an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil.

Mr. Murray, who’s to carry out in Cirque du Soleil’s “Festa,” subsequent month in Andorra, had dropped out of New York College in 2007 to pursue gymnastics and acrobatics, in the end touchdown on the international circus firm.

Juanita Cardenas, 38, a multidisciplinary artist and performer from Bogotá, Colombia, was among the many crew that had biked to the circus competition from New York. Mx. Cardenas, who makes use of a gender-neutral courtesy title and she or he/her pronouns, graduated from the Cooper Union in 2008 with a level in artwork, after which studied circus arts in Buenos Aires.

Whereas residing in New York, she had beforehand crossed paths with Mr. Murray whereas acting at venues just like the Muse and Home of Sure — however the two knew one another solely casually.

Nonetheless, one thing clicked once they linked in Montreal. One evening, after consuming the well-known poutine at La Banquise, Mr. Murray unexpectedly kissed Mx. Cardenas.

“It was a pleasant shock,” she mentioned. “As a result of in common life, he’s a really shy and well mannered, candy being.” They loved a number of extra passionate days collectively in Montreal, however neither anticipated their romance to guide wherever.

“I didn’t assume he needed a girlfriend on tour,” Mx. Cardenas mentioned. “That’s not enjoyable.”

Since Mr. Murray’s touring duties as an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil took him across the globe, the 2 regularly fell out of contact. Then, simply earlier than the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, their touring schedules overlapped in Australia.

Mx. Cardenas was in a relationship with another person on the time, however she and Mr. Murray have been nonetheless thrilled to reconnect. “It was particular however not flirty,” she recalled.

Ultimately, Mr. Murray, who grew up in Silver Spring, Md., returned to his house within the Washington metropolitan space, and Mx. Cardenas returned to Brooklyn. However the two saved in shut contact within the months that adopted.

“We supported one another loads throughout some darkish and scary occasions,” he mentioned, referring to each the Covid lockdown and Mx. Cardenas’s breakup together with her boyfriend.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

After a yr of intense long-distance communication and the rollout of the Covid vaccines, Mx. Cardenas satisfied Mr. Murray to go to her in Brooklyn. In Might 2021, he rode his bicycle for 19 hours straight from Washington to Mx. Cardenas’s residence in Mattress-Stuy, the place he took a bathe and instantly fell asleep.

“Then, we awoke collectively, and it was great,” Mx. Cardenas mentioned.

Mr. Murray agreed. “After a yr and a half of not touching one other particular person — who was not household — it was fairly loopy,” he mentioned.

There was no formal proposal, however a mutual determination to marry that adopted many lengthy and deep conversations about their future collectively.

The 2 have been married on June 4 in a day ceremony on the Slipper Room, a performing arts theater on the Decrease East Aspect in Manhattan. Their pal James Habacker, a Common Life Church minister who owns the venue, led the ceremony. When the couple first informed Mr. Habacker that they needed to hire his membership, he supplied his officiant duties as a bonus.

Round 100 friends attended the ceremony, together with burlesque stars from New York like Julie Atlas Muz, Mat Fraser, Soiled Martini and Bambi the Mermaid.

The Slipper Room routinely hosts whimsical and daring burlesque and circus performances. So, Mx. Cardenas’s and Mr. Murray’s theatrical wedding ceremony was a pure match. “We constructed it like a present that you’d see on the Slipper Room — however with us because the featured acts,” Mr. Murray mentioned.

The ceremony started with Mr. Murray constructing a stack of chairs, whereas singing “Love on High” by Beyoncé. The subsequent act, carried out by the couple, featured costumes designed by Mx. Cardenas. She wore a floral gown, and he was outfitted to appear like a rotisserie hen. “It was about nourishment and lust,” Mx. Cardenas defined.

After the couple recited their vows in matching costumes formed like large fingers (additionally made by the bride), they have been hoisted into the air through an aerial hoop to alternate their rings.

“That was the one factor we didn’t do a gown rehearsal for,” mentioned Mr. Murray, including that their hand costumes weren’t prepared in time for a run-through. Fortunately, the visitor checklist included many aerialists and acrobats who helped them get safely located.

For his or her remaining act, the couple donned customized handmade Western-style outfits, and Mr. Murray carried out lasso methods that ended with the 2 of them tied in a knot. Shortly after, the marriage get together and friends needed to filter out to accommodate one other present. An impromptu after-party at Arlene’s Grocery, a stay music venue, went late into the evening.

Amid the theatrics, the couple had forgotten to order a wedding license. So Mr. Habacker ended up signing the wedding license the next Wednesday, on June 7, between previews of the couple’s newest collaboration, “Day of the Useless Stay!” which can open Oct. 19 at Brooklyn Artwork Haus. The present’s pianist, Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, served because the witness.

The couple spent their wedding ceremony evening on the Sixty LES Resort in New York, and they’re now planning a honeymoon touring from Barcelona, Spain, to Genoa, Italy. Naturally, they are going to be using their bicycles.


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