From Elite Athlete to True Artist, What A Life It Is for Cirque’s Corrie Lothrop!

Corrie Lothrop’s life journey has spanned the world, and she’s all-the-wiser for it.

By Chris Korotky

As entertainment venues reopened after the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil declared “intermission is over,” with its Mystere production among the first shows to reopen. I traveled to Las Vegas to see the show not long after that reopening and WOW, there are no words to describe the experience! 

Among the performers delivering those WOW moments for Cirque is former Elite gymnast Corrie Lothrop. Born in China and adopted by a family in the United States when she was two years-old, Lothrop has made her mark all over the globe. She’s won medals as an Elite athlete at competitions spanning Europe, North America and South America, was part of the U.S. delegation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, made her mark in Salt Lake City as an NCAA gymnast for the University of Utah and now calls entertainment-capital-of-the-world Las Vegas her home, with the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil!

I had the opportunity to catch up with her recently as she reflected back on her stellar career and gave us a glimpse into her life with Cirque, and shared some of her signature words of wisdom!


 

Let’s take a trip down memory lane with your Elite career – when you think back on that now, what are your reflections as well as some of your favorite memories?

When I think back, I definitely see myself as being so young. I prioritized gymnastics and really nothing else, but that is likely why I was able to go so far in my gymnastics career. My favorite memory has to be competing at the 2008 U.S. Championships because it was held in Boston. I grew up in Massachusetts and I had lots of friend and family support there. It wasn’t just a packed house, but a super loud one!

Talk a little about the experience of the 2008 Olympic Trials!

I was just so happy and honored to even be at Olympic Trials. Camps were always hard for me, because even though I had competed internationally and represented Team USA, I’m not sure if I ever truly saw myself as being “in the mix,” so when I qualified for Trials, I literally couldn’t believe it! 

How did you first become interested in Cirque du Soleil?

I’ve always been interested in Cirque because I think as gymnasts, we see it as the pinnacle of our gymnastics career since there’s no other way to have it be your “job” unless you’ve gone pro. Since seeing my first show back in maybe 2005 or 2006, I thought those performers were so cool and wondered what type of life they must live! I applied and submitted my profile into the database back in 2017, two years after I graduated from Utah. I chose to not go right into Cirque after graduating college because I needed a break from it all. I tried to be a “normal” adult, worked in retail, was a server, got my Master’s degree… turns out that life wasn’t for me either (laughs)! So I auditioned for Le Rêve and ended up performing in that from 2019 to 2020, when the show closed.

What was the audition process for Cirque du Soleil like?

My audition was basically a private one – as opposed to an open audition – where they asked me when I was available to come in and try out some stuff. I did some Powertrack, Banquine, and even tried Teeterboard for the first time ever, which was quite the experience (laughs)! 

Can you talk about the process of developing your artistry with Cirque du Soleil and things that you wish you would’ve known during your time in gymnastics? Are there specific exercises or classes – like acting or improv – that really helped you develop your on stage performance quality?

I think I’ve always been a performer. I grew up doing dance recitals and some competitions and gymnastics, so I think that really helped me develop my artistic side. College is when my artistry really flourished, because in order to get a good score on floor and get the crowd invested in your routine, you have to be willing to show your personality! I started playing around with choreographing floor routines when I was a senior and choreographed most of the incoming freshmen routines summer of 2014. I also actually took an acting/improv class in college just for fun and I loved it!

After I graduated in 2015, I switched gears completely and dove head first into the world of dance. I took tons of dance classes every week at Millennium SLC. Honestly, that was the eye opener for me – to see normal people be able to move their bodies in ways I couldn’t, to hear certain beats in the music that I couldn’t… I was just blown away and wanted more! Then when I got to Le Rêve, I was exposed to a completely new world that wasn’t just gymnastics, it was literally anything and everything acrobatic and again, I was blown away.

What are some of the life skills you learned through gymnastics that have really helped you in your career?

I think the biggest and most important life skill I learned through gymnastics is being coachable. People want to work with people who want to work. I think also being willing and open to try new things with a positive attitude. No one is perfect and sometimes things don’t go your way, but a good attitude goes a long way!

You had an outstanding NCAA career. Can you reflect on that a bit…

Thank you! I loved my time at the University of Utah as a student athlete and I still rock my gear at Cirque (laughs)! Of course, I would’ve loved to win a championship for the university since it had been so long, but 42 consecutive years of championship appearances as of 2015 [when I was there] is a huge feat in itself and I was proud to be part of five of those years! I think the talent pool in the NCAA now is absolutely incredible, the skill level is so high, and I could probably not keep up! I’m so impressed and happy to see former Elites not only killing it, but keeping their high level skills and doing them with college gymnastics finesse!

Finally, what words of advice do you have first for a young gymnast looking to earn an NCAA scholarship eventually and also what advice do you have for someone that would like to forge a career path like yours?

If an NCAA scholarship is your goal, then keep pushing and don’t let people or social media lead you astray. Middle school and high school is hard and is when kids usually drop sports to hang with friends, but if you want to experience student athlete life, you’ve got to keep your goal in the back of your mind! Look out for yourself and know that there are big things ahead, just stay focused!

If you want to try the Cirque path, don’t be afraid to use the skills gymnastics has taught you to play around in other disciplines! Try dance classes, lyra (hoop), straps, pole, harness, martial arts, parkour, contortion, silks, hand balancing, bmx biking, inline skating, the list goes on and on! Or, make up your own discipline – after all, we’re all artists!

Inside Gymnastics magazine has an advertising and partnership program with Cirque du Soleil. And we must also disclose that we have an absolute love for Cirque du Soleil and are excited to share stories of artists from their productions!

Photos: Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics, Cirque du Soleil, & Lawrence Boye 

Check out some of our other “Where Are They Now” features:  Elizabeth Price (click here), Andreea Raducan (click here), and Alaina Kwan (click here)

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