At 52, there’s no stopping Cuban-born contortionist and Miami resident Ricardo Sosa, who on Friday begins a 10-day run with Cirque Italia Water Circus in North Miami.
Sosa — who can still balance himself on his hands with his legs straight in the air — says he doesn’t believe contortionism must be a young performer’s art.
“I know people see it as amazing, but for me it is about discipline and dedication,” he said. “You need to have respect for yourself. If you are doing what you love then its not about sacrifice, and that’s what I feel when I perform.”
From age 6, Sosa studied ballet in his hometown of Havana. At 17, he enrolled in circus school, where students learned national Russian-style techniques. A 52-year-old Russian taught him.
“Fifty-two is the same age I am right now,” Sosa said. “I remember him doing crazy things. And to me — I was 17 years-old — I asked myself, ‘How is he doing this at this age’? After all those years, I look at myself and I learned that he put a lot of that discipline on me and I took respect from him. I feel stronger and I’ll keep going as long as God allows me to do it.”
After he graduated from circus school, Sosa traveled Cuba performing, eventually becoming a teacher himself at the school. His last performance in Cuba was at the famous Tropicana Club in Havana.
In 1994, while performing in Colombia, Sosa and several others in the Cuban troupe defected. He launched a new performing career and he toured the Americas. After being spotted by an agent for Carson & Barnes Circus, Sosa was offered a contract in the United States. He also worked for the UniverSoul Circus and has performed for many historical figures, including South African President Nelson Mandela.
“For me to perform for that great leader in his country and on his birthday it was really touching,” Sosa said.
He also has performed twice for Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, before the businessman ran for president. “It was a true honor to perform for him,” Sosa said.
This week, Sosa will perform at Cirque Italia in North Miami, which will also feature a rotating “wheel of death,” clown comedy, a juggling duo and aquatic events.
Sosa’s reputation is far-reaching, both for his performing talent and his kindness.
“I”ve worked with him many times. He’s amazing!” said Laurie Allen, who manages Rainbow Circus Miami, a full cirque production company. “The most amazing part is to watch him train. It is dedication. He really is the rubber-band man. He’s a good guy, too. He’s very generous with other performers in sharing his skills.”
If you go
Cirque Italia Water Circus will be performed at 1860 NE 123 St., across the street from the LA Fitness shopping center in North Miami. The show runs Friday through Feb. 18, with both daytime and evening performances.
Tickets start at $10 for children; $25 for adults. For details and more information visit www.cirqueitalia.com.