Traveling the world while doing something you love sounds like a fantasy to most, but former University of Nebraska-Lincoln men’s gymnast Josh Rasile has made it a reality.
Since 2011, Rasile has been traveling the globe as a part of Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour” and on June 24-25 he’ll return to the city of his alma mater for two performances at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Rasile, who is head acrobat and the artist coach with the show, said he has been training for a position like this his entire life.
“I started (gymnastics) at age four,” he said. “I have an insane amount of energy, especially when I was younger and my left foot pointed in a little bit. I went to the doctor for this and the energy, and they recommended I be put in gymnastics, then it took off from there. I ended up doing pretty well.”
At UNL, Rasile was an NCAA All-American on the still rings and also team captain for the men’s gymnastics team before he graduated in 2005.
He said his time spent at the university helped him with team building, communication, leadership and juggling multiple responsibilities at one time - along with allowing for a smooth transition from athlete to entertainer.
“I actually always enjoyed performing and being an entertainer,” Rasile said. “I guess most of my gymnastics career was for myself and also everybody else that was watching. I’ve always been an outgoing type of person. I’m not afraid to be in front of a crowd. I get along with everybody...It was a smooth transition for me to move to athletics into entertainment.”
UNL men’s gymnastics head coach, Chuck Chmelka said he isn’t surprised Rasile is a part of Cirque du Soleil.
“He’s just got that kind of mentality to be in those shows,” Chmelka said. “He’s daring, gutsy and strong. I remember when he was training...For the Cirque auditions they gave him a list of stuff to do - it was pretty different. It’s gymnastics but it’s a lot of stuff that we’d never do here...So he did work hard and didn’t just walk in and get the job. He trained and did everything necessary that it took to get it.”
Rasile said he plans on continuing on with Cirque du Soleil in the future although tour dates after August are up in the air.
“It’d be nice if I could get into another tour but there’s specific roles for specific athletes--heights, skill sets, ethnicities, et cetera,” he said. “It’s very particular when it comes to the roles. I have to wait for when my show ends for a position to open up, so I do whatever I can now in order to put myself out there to land another show.”
Cirque du Soleil is a 30-year-old high-quality, artistic entertainment company, based in Quebec, Canada. They have 5,000 employees worldwide and represent 50 nationalities and 25 different languages, according to their website.
“I’ve been to five or six of them (Cirque du Soleil shows) and they’re all just awesome,” Chmelka said. “They really are awesome. It will be entertaining and it will be fun for a 5-year-old all the way up to a grandma and grandpa.”
The UNL gymnastics team purchased 62 tickets to the show.
“We’re just glad they made a stop here in Lincoln,” Chmelka said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of people going to watch. He (Rasile) is just a great guy and we wish him the best.”
Rasile said attendees of the Lincoln performance should look forward to a high energy show with crazy acrobatics, awesome dancing and a live band with many members who played with Michael Jackson himself, at some point in their career.