The amazing Duo Destiny talk about their project in this exclusive interview. Get to know better Gonçalo Roque and King Grzeskow!
Today, Fairplay interviewed Gonçalo Roque and Kinga Grzeskow, a couple of artists who have formed the “Duo Destiny” for about 5 years. Before that, they were acrobatic gymnasts and competed in several international events representing Portugal and Poland, respectively. Let’s talk to them and get to know them better!
Each of you has a unique individual sporting past, as ex-acrobatic gymnastics athletes, and about which I would like each one to talk: At what age did you start practicing; for how long have you competed and what were the best results did you achieve?
Gonçalo:I started my Acrobatic Gymnastics practising when I was about 10 years old at the Academia Gimnodesportiva de Samora Correia. At the age of 19, I moved to Ginásio Clube Português until I was 23, and it was in this club that I obtained the most relevant results of my career: Bi European Champion (2011 and 2013), Winner and medalist and several World Cups and 1st place in the World Ranking in 2013. I was also a silver medalist at the World Games 2013 in Cali.
Kinga:I started doing acrobatics when I was 7 and I was doing it for about 11 years. My best results as an acrobat was 3rd place on European Championship in 2006 in Women’s Pair and after 3rd Place as a Senior on a World Cup in Forli in 2011.
After your retirement from competition career, both of you started to have some different routines and daily activities. How did the adaptation to this new phase of your lives go? Did you already have any professional plans defined for the future? Have you ever imagined yourself working as artists/performers?
G: As soon as I finished my career in 2013, I went from 80 to 8. I was so tired of the training requirement that I had almost a year doing very little exercise, I felt that my body really needed it. It was a strange adaptation, as the days seemed much longer and I had a lot of time to do things I never did. Gradually, the desire to train was returning. I never planned on being an artist/performer, because honestly it was a very unknown path for me. I did not know what I needed to do, how to do it, nor did I have a strong desire to leave Portugal (since all the artists I knew spent great seasons abroad). Now that I have an idea of how it went, I regret a little that I didn’t start this career earlier.
K: To be honest I never imagined myself doing acrobatics or performing as my future job. That never was a plan. When I finished sport career I still sticked around to the performing group in Poland where I saw circus artists and aerial equipment for the very first time. I was training all the time but more like a hobby after I quit competition just because I really liked it and could never stop doing it. I was studying and training then same time trying to be in shape, not knowing that one day my first contract would come up so unexpectedly. From that first time I knew that this is what I really wanna do for my life.
How did the first professional opportunity that you worked together come about? Did you start training as a duo right away? How did the interaction go and how was your relationship at the beginning?
G: It was a very funny situation. Kinga sent me a message via Facebook in early 2015, saying that she was going to work for a show in Mallorca (Pirates Adventure Show), that I needed a base and if I was interested in. Immediately, something told me that this could be an interesting opportunity. I had 24 hours to completely change my life and decide to go to live in Mallorca (where my idea would be just to do 8 months on the show and then return to Portugal … and everything changed!).
Basically, on this show we did some part of the show together but we also did other parts with other artists. We were basically part of a group of acrobats in which they used our talents for different parts of the show.
The interaction was good, the show in Mallorca is super fun and life there is even better. Kinga had never made a mixed pair, which made things a little more technically complicated. At the end of those 8 months, although we had a great relationship, we decided that it didn’t make sense to continue training together… but everything changed!
K:My first contract came completely unexpected while I started university. This one was before I met Goncalo. I did my first contract and I fell in love in this kind of life and living way. For the second contract, which is where I met Goncalo, I did one audition in Mallorca for it and when I found out that I got in, I was looking for a partner – Goncalo was one of them and the one that finally decided to join me. In that particular show we were friends and we remembered each other from competition time but there still each of us had their own life and plans for the future. We were doing many but short parts in the show and didn’t really have own act/spot in it. So during that contract we didn’t really expected to work with each other in the future. Just on the next contract which also came unexpected we realized that we could create something really cool and started to work on our own act. That is where Duo Destiny started to be creating.
How is the professional life of a “performer”? Are you the ones who create your performances, from the choreography, to the technical and artistic part? In addition, how do you organize your daily life, the trainings you have to do, so that you can do everything from training, resting, but also dedicating time to other activities / hobbies you appreciate?
G: A performer’s life is pretty mind-boggling … In our case, we completely love what we do and it helps a lot. Traveling and doing what we love most, with whom we love, what could we ask for more? Since the creation of the Destiny Duo (March 2016), we have been dividing our tasks. I was in charge of the technical and training parts, Kinga of the social networks, emails, editing and creation of promotional videos (which is super important). When we are under contract, we basically train 6 days a week, in which we share the training day with Gym Training (general physical preparation) and technical training together (Hand to Hand training, our specialty). Then, depending on what we think we need most at that stage, we train choreography or create new elements. Of course, we also have time for our hobbies, usually in the morning. I’m more about cooking and watching series, Kinga loves editing videos and writing.
K: Our life is very specific, I would say. It’s still artist’s life but we are more independent and can do more things on our own and decide for ourselves which is why that job is really amazing! Therefore we also create all the choreography, acts and combine the tricks on our own as we didn’t have anyone to lead us or to show how that should be done. We had to figure everything mostly on our own. By the time we also realized that we really like to create things ourselves as then it all comes from us and feels more personal. However creating something in the future with someone would be for sure a really cool idea as we never tried it and for sure would be a great experience. About the daily life, we manage and prepare everything on our own too. We train most likely everyday dividing it to 2 trainings normally: one gym-physical training for conditioning and one technical with each other. We try to manage it in the way that we still could have time for our hobbies if we would like to do something else as well like trip somewhere, going to the restaurants or just watching movies.
The Duo Destiny has been part of several projects and shows over the years working together and all over the World. You have passed by the “Cabaret Show” in Ibiza, by the Pirates show, by the Moulin Rouge in Paris and also by Cirque du Soleil. You also participated in “Poland’s Got Talent”, from which winners came out, and were invited to perform in the “American’s Got Talent: The Champions” semifinal, in which they praised the jury for the performance you had, and also for the way they impressed and moved the general public.
How did you feel when you received the invitation to join that show? Do you think that your participation gave some projection and more visibility to your work, and can contribute to the appearance of more invitations to other shows? Have you received positive feedback from many people?
G: We were invited to be part of America’s Got Talent – The Champions, in which only 40 artists from around the world who stood out in the most different TV programs are invited. We reached the semi-finals, being the most voted, being among the top 10.
It was a super surprise for us. We never imagined being part of a program like this, with such a dimension, I can tell you it was a dream when we received the invitation. But not everything was a bed of roses … The stress and pressure that a program like this brings is quite great … we were immensely afraid because we had no idea if the jury would like our work, and that counts a lot for American TV. In the end, we can only be super happy with the decision to accept this opportunity. Undoubtedly, the program gave us mega visibility and made us receive proposals all over the world (especially a lot of television programs) which made us incredibly happy with our work.
K: About the America’s Got Talent TV Show, when the opportunity came of course we were really surprised and happy! That was really a big distinction to be invited to do that show as it’s the biggest platform in the world in these kind of department. Visibility was definitely one of our points. We wanted to share our work, talent and what we do with new, bigger audience and that show gave us that kind of opportunity. Every time these kind of trips and events normally come as a surprise and that was also this time. It’s a big show and big opportunity but also a big responsibility to be sure that we actually can do it good enough and in the right time. It’s a risk and we decided to take it as we had no idea how the things would go there for us and how will everything be ended. We wanted to share our job with new American’s audience and we did hope that they will like what we do which seemed to be a success as we received plenty of great feedbacks, a lot of positive messages and words from the people that watched it life and in TV. In that moment, we felt really happy that we could participate in the program and how well it was received by the completely new audience.
In your professional life as “performers”, what were the most striking moments (difficult and / or demanding) and other more funny and / or unusual that happened to you and that you would like to share with our readers?
G: For me, the creation of our Duo was something remarkable. It is not an easy profession and we decided to risk everything we had built in our countries (in my case, I was already part of the Ginásio Clube Português permanent staff) to follow our dream. A lot of people doubted that we could build a career, which now, looking back, makes us super happy with this decision. We trained a lot, risked even more, but it was all worth it. Not everything was easy, we had some disappointments, but it is a pride to say that we came from 0 and built it all. For me, another outstanding moment was winning the Poland Got Talent Program.
One of the most memorable moments, but in the negative, was my knee injury this January (which made me undergo an emergency operation in Switzerland), 1 day before flying to the largest Circus Festival in the World, Monte Carlo International Festival. It was a very sad moment, because after 1 year of preparation, the dream was cancelled.
K: The most difficult for me I think there were 2 moments. The very beginning that we were starting and had no idea how to begin, from what and where. We had no idea how to appear in the world for others to notice us and to actually get a job so we could live from it. It was a little bit scary and took a lot of time and hard, hard work as we were signing up for unknown, knowing that we have only each other and hopes that it will lead and take us somewhere better.
Second one was before our first Circus Festival in Paris where we were for the first time exposed with our own created act to the 95% of all the show directors and producents. We knew that we have to do it right and do our best as we had only one shot, which was really stressful and the same time really exciting as that opportunity could change our lives completely and we were aware of it. In the end, that is was actually happened – our lives changed completely and we started to receive more and more work opportunities with other shows and realized how much others like our work. In that moment, we felt that our hard work was paid off and that it all didn’t go for nothing. We were proud that we tried so hard and made it happen.
About funny moments hmm… I can’t really find any specific moment but in general our whole lives, trips, spending time together is normally one big comedy. A lot of weird things happen to us unexpectedly that just make our lives so variety and full of adventures. We had situation with delaying flights, loosing flights, moments that the show had to be stopped right during our act because of weather problems and also moments that we were doing act and forgot to close/zip up my costume or had 15 min to warm up for the full act.
How far do you intend to go as Duo Destiny? What remains to be done? Is it your dream to be part of a company show, such as Cirque du Soleil?
G: What makes us train to be more and better is to be able to choose where and in which company to work. Cirque du Soleil has always been a dream for us, a dream that came true last summer (We were part of a new creation in Canada). After that, we already had the invitation to work on some more of their shows but our schedule never coincided.
We also have the dream of working in Las Vegas, the capital of Show Business, which is why it is something we would love to do. We have had some contacts and at the right time we hope that will happen.
We also need to be part of the International Festival Monte Carlo, which was prevented due to my injury. We hope to have a new opportunity (invitation from the Princess) in the near future.
K :I think, speaking for myself that we would like to perform as a Duo Destiny as long as it’s possible where we don’t have one main goal but plenty of variety options, shows to do and places to perform in that each of them has something unique and amazing like others don’t. This life is about getting the most of the experience and we know we can do it only by trying the most of each of the pieces that it offers. With Cirque du Soleil we were part of their show already once but for sure it would be great and fun time to do another project with them, which we’ve already been offered just now waiting for the good time and availability to do it.
I could not fail to ask you the question, related to the pandemic of CO-VID19, and the way in which all this exceptional circumstantialism has affected your personal and professional life. I know that Gonçalo is in Portugal and Kinga in Poland, so you haven’t been training together. What do you plan to do about it? Were there any commitments that have been left pending / or on hold, or even others that had to be canceled? How do you look to the future with all this uncertainty going around?
G: This virus left us apart, on the condition that we don’t even know when we will be able to be together again, something that is horrible. We have been training practically every day but apart, which is not the same thing. Basically, we had a contract for Ibiza now in May and June that has already been cancelled and our contract in Paris with the Moulin Rouge in July and August has already been cancelled. We are in a giant uncertainty because we have no idea when we will be able to go back to work, to be able to do what we love most, something that is very sad.
Despite this negative quarantine situation, we have also taken positive things. For having more time at home, we have used the time to reflect on future projects and try to develop projects that we are already part of, setting better goals for the times that follow.
K: It’s definitely not easy time for our industry but at the same time each of us is in the same situation so everyone is waiting. At the moment we do train separately as much as we can and with a conditions we have so we can stay in shape in case something changes but we are aware that some of our upcoming events will be cancelled. Definitely when the boarders will be open and flights will re-open we will try to meet together to finally train, spend some time together and think how to manage the time that we will have. Although we look positive to the future believing that when it all calms down and finishes – we can restart performing in some places that are currently “pending” or in a talk process as we are all the time in touch with people that are interested to work with us.
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