From a stint as ‘Wag the Dog’ with the Wiggles, to now performing with Cirque du Soleil, former ‘fruitie’ Nick Hutchinson reflects on his journey as Flying Fruit Fly Circus celebrates 40 years
A passion for flying high from a very young age led the parents of Flying Fruit Fly Circus graduate Nick Hutchinson to enrol him at age seven in gymnastics at his local YMCA.
In 2007 he joined the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Twelve years later, Hutchinson has achieved his dream of performing with Cirque du Soleil.
Robyne Young caught up with Hutchinson on a brief break from the current season of Cirque du Soleil’s X: The Land of Fantasy in China, in his ‘second home’ of Albury to talk about his career to date and his special relationship with international former Fruities trainer, and Cirque du Soleil performer, Sergei Okhai.
“I think it must have been 2003 I saw a Cirque du Soleil show in Sydney. I knew nothing about it or who was in it, but Sergei was actually in that show. It was strange, but I connected with him there,” Hutchinson said.
Fast forward to 2007 and Hutchinson applied to join Australia’s national children’s circus.
“Sergei was there for my interview and my parents and I asked about the best way to get into Cirque du Soleil because that was the dream. Sergei took me under his wing and put me on that right path.”
Hutchinson performed in the Helpmann award winning, The Promise, and Pirates which toured for three years to major centres and remote towns. Hutchinson graduated in 2011 as a ‘Porter’: a gymnast who specialises in hand to hand, cradle and general acrobatics.
After graduating, Hutchinson scored a gig with The Wiggles as Wag the Dog for three years before returning to Albury as a Fruities trainer for a year. He then joined Franco Dragone’s La Perle show based in Dubai.
“This was the first time I was really shifting my life and I remember thinking ‘how do you pack a bag to relocate your whole life?’ I had left home before when I worked with The Wiggles, but it was two months away and then I would be home for a week.
“It was a big shift; a big thing to move to a foreign country and be with a group of people I didn’t know at all. Culturally it was very different. Everything from what they eat, but the hardest part for me was the hierarchy. Dubai is a place where it is all about money. Obviously, the Emirates are all the way at the top, then there is quite a bit of poverty that you see; people working all month with no time off and not being treated very nicely.”
Then came the opportunity to join the circus of his dreams: Cirque du Soleil and its first show created for the Chinese and residents in the country, X: The Land of Fantasy performed in a theatre seating 1500, built by major real estate company and production partner, Xintiandi (XTD).
“The partnership gives us an amazing theatre to perform in, and we have great conditions in terms of payment, number of shows and time off. Cirque de Soleil looks after me very, very well.
“Living in China is different again. Hungzhou is about 200 kms south west of Shanghai which you can reach by bullet train in 45 minutes. I find there is more freedom. It is a relaxed place to be even though there are eight million people here. It’s an odd mix of an ancient city with a lake that’s thousands of years old with temples on it and now they’re trying to blend this modernity – the super high-tech theatre and apartments and multiple malls.”
“Albury is my second home. Every time I have a break, I’m down here. I come, not because I have to, because I want to come here and see what is happening, especially at Fruities. I was coaching here for a year after the Wiggles and before Dragone. I had a good squad of eight to twelve-year-olds who four years later I can see the development in them.”
While performing commitments mean Hutchinson will miss the Back in the Big Top performance celebrating 40 years of Fruities, he spent as much time as possible at the training complex as he could.
“Some of the trainers asked me to keep an eye out and help where I can. So, I jumped in on that.”
For more on the 40 years of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and how to book, click on our earlier story published by Krysten Clifton here.
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