With much delay on my part (moving to the other side of the world has it’s issues) I finally present to you Amadeu Neves‘ Interview. A Portuguese trampolinist who turned his sporting experiences in to an artistic career. Thank you in advance for Amadeu’s Video Tour of the OVO’s backstage.
Who is Amadeu Neves?
It is always difficult to speak of ourselves in this way. I consider myself an organized, direct person, with fixed ideas and strong convictions. I am hardworking, focused, dedicated and persevering. A Friend of my friend and always very flexible with the best intention to help.
How did your sporting path begin?
It all started when I was 5 years old! Influenced by my brother, who practiced gymnastics/trampoline for a few years. I was a restless kid, full of energy and went to a class of recreational gymnastics with a different schedule from my brother’s, which did not help my parents at the time of picking us up at the end of training. At some point, my parents enrolled me on the same class, and that’s where everything started. I met Professor Carlos Matias, which I consider one of the most important persons in my life. Not only as a coach but as an example. I still consider him my mentor, my reference and a great friend. I call him “Master”, he’s sage. He was often a father figure, a friend and my teacher at school. It was Carlos who picked me into he’s class and we have since worked together, first as an athlete and coach, then as fellow coaches.
And what were your most memorable moments in trampolining?
I can clearly highlight some important moments in my sporting career, not only with podium results, but with other moments that marked me. I highlight my first international event in 1994, the WAG, which I finished in 3rd place in DMT. Not only for the result, but passing by the camping site where I stayed with Matias, my family and some friends during the period of WAG, gave this experience another meaning. That was the moment where my life really changed and got completely directed to trampolining. I highlight my first trip abroad in 1995 to the Netherlands, to participate in an Individual Trampoline Competition, an apparatus on which I only started training the year before. Another moment was undoubtedly the first Competition in the National Team (1997), was then a junior, and entered the Latin Cup, along with senior athletes, and at the time many idols. This was the first of 12 years on the national team.
World champion DMT (WAG) 1999;
European Junior DMT champion 2000 (team and individual);
Senior Vice World and European champion DMT (2001 and 2002);
World and European champion DMT senior teams (2001 and 2002);
Gold medal in a World Cup in Synchronized Trampoline in 2005, Russia (with Nuno Merino);
Trampoline Teams Finalists in world, 2005 Netherlands;
Individual Trampoline Finalist in world cup, 2009 in Ostend.
We can say that you had a very eclectic career although, always focused on sports. This happens because you like to do lots of different things or does everything combine into a final goal?
I always knew that my life would have to be linked to physical activity because my passion for movement and sports has always accompanied me. Even today I follow the values and principles that sports and the people with whom I worked directly conveyed to me. I can say that my entire route as an athlete, physical exercise professional, coach and artist are combined as a whole. I’ve had the privilege to train top athletes in the Clube Trampolins Salvaterra and to have accompanied to the Olympic Games in 2012 and, continue to monitor, Diogo Ganchinho as his physical trainer. And I still maintain some personal training and nutrition monitoring online. They are all very different experiences, with different learning pathways and with different realities but united by movement, training, performance, requirement, rigor and discipline that is mandatory in these different areas. The privilege of working in different realities, provide an intimate knowledge of individual skills, whether artistic, athletic, scientific or social.
Of which of your projects are you most proud of as an artist?
I can’t hide it, joining the Cirque largest company in the world is undoubtedly a great pride and satisfaction. The amount of fantastic performers that exist throughout the world and try to get into this company is huge, and only when there you understand the reason behind the success and why it’s difficult to be a part of it. Simultaneously, belonging to an enigmatic brand adds more responsibilities and the “bigger burden on your shoulder” is evident. The quality, the volume of work and the demand is great. But no doubt that the art project I’m most proud about was, undoubtedly, the musical Lazytown Live in Abu Dhabi. The reason is simple, my professional background is in exercise and training, I was a gymnastics competitor for 20 years, but in this case I had to play an English speaking character, dance and sing. Basically it’s like jumping on a trampoline with no safety platform (which happens at this point in OVO). I was completely out of my comfort zone and loved it. It was a great challenge and I would do it again. But the current project at Cirque requires much, either physically or mentally. The risk is constant, the environment in which the act is done (the lights, the totally different trampolines, giant wall of 6 by 18 meters, stage as a safety pad …) makes everything dangerous but filled with adrenaline and an incredible energy.
How was the transition from trampolining to the stage?
The transition happened in 2010, when I decided to take a break in my sporting career. I did an audition for a character and got the job. In the same year I got injured seriously in the Achilles tendon in a rehearsal, which cost me 11 months of recovery but, at the same time, gave me time to reflect and think in which way I wanted to go. I chose to end the sporting career and tread new paths, I ventured. I did a lot work in Portugal, Spain, Egypt, London, Abu Dhabi and now live in Tokyo.
The sport itself provided me all the values instilled in it. The discipline, rigor, work, sacrifice, perseverance, among others. The people I worked with, who trained and helped me train, added much to my work and to the person I am today. I still use the tools, the “know-how” acquired as a gymnast, in my daily life as a performer. The big difference is that I trained mi whole life 6 days a week with a competition, but now we compete (2 shows per day) every day and train 1 or 2 times a week. The specific technique, courage, accuracy, discomfort, physical training, focus and determination are some of the factors that can’t separate from me and my performance. It is a constant search for improvement, but in a show environment.
You’ve shared the stage with a former Portuguese Team colleague, another trampolining reference from Portugal. How is it like working again with Diogo Faria?
This is one of those coincidences that if someday unplanned result! For those who do not know, Cirque du Soleil has many Portuguese artists. We have 2 silver acrobats who are already usual at the Mystere show in Las Vegas, Nuno Fernandes is a gymnast/tumbler who worked on Zaia in Macau, the dancer Rita “Spider” who did Michael Jackson Immortal, and 2 in OVO! Diogo Faria, did 5 years in Alegria, that recently closed, and joined OVO in February this year. We shared the Senior National Team from 2001, until 2008, the year he retired. Since 1997 we shared training clinics, competitions etc. We were World and European champions, and also synchro partners. After 6 years, we got to work together but in a different context. Now we share this great stage 6 days, 10 shows a week! More than sharing the stage, we share a friendship, helping one another in this life that, contrary to what many people might think, is very hard but in the end the applause of the audience makes it worth your while!
What advice can you give our readers who, like you, want to make sports their lives?
First find something you really like and with which you identify yourself. Define where to go, what the available paths to get there. Work with determination, perseverance and joy, not letting any opportunity escape! Get ready, instruct them up and give 100 % not leaving for tomorrow what should have been done today! Take risks, get out of your comfort zone and see the doors that will open. Never accept if someone tells you that you cannot just because they could not. Do not accept that success in life comes easily, accept yes, work well to create opportunities that lead you to success.