Alumnus gets physical with Cirque du Soleil
Matt Biancuzzo, ’06 | Athletic Trainer, Cirque du Soleil
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Five nights a week, 85 acrobats, synchronized swimmers, divers and characters perform in, on and above water in Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio Las Vegas. And with so much physical strength and endurance required by the performers, athletic trainers, like Matt Biancuzzo, ’06, play a vital role in the show, as well as in the other 17 Cirque shows in more than 300 cities in more than 40 countries on six continents around the world.
As an athletic trainer for “O,” Biancuzzo and the rest of the performance medicine team evaluate, assess and treat the performers, taking a proactive approach with corrective exercises to prevent injuries. He says his favorite thing about his job is working with such a wide variety of personalities and cultures.
“Since joining Cirque du Soleil three years ago, I feel I have opened my eyes to so many different cultures and ways to approach things — not only in the therapy setting, but just in life in general,” he explains.
Before joining “O,” Biancuzzo worked on Cirque’s “La Nouba” show in Orlando. Before that, he worked as a graduate assistant at Florida State University, as an assistant athletic trainer at Georgia Southern University and as a student athletic trainer at UCF.
“I was always an active youth and very much into athletics,” he says. “The medical field had intrigued me after taking some focused courses in high school, and when I took my PSATs and saw the sports medicine/athletic training major, I just knew it was the direction I wanted to take.”
Biancuzzo says his UCF degree has helped him immensely in his work.
“The program gave me such a solid foundation to build upon to not only become a certified athletic trainer, but also to continue to develop as a professional in the field.”
Cirque du Soleil, which translates to “Circus of the Sun,” originated in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1984. Its shows are a fusion of circus styles from around the world, each with its own storyline and central theme, where imaginary worlds are brought to life through amazing acrobatic performances.
Q&A Cool Down
Q. What’s your favorite thing about living in Las Vegas?
A. The variety of outdoor activities that you can find yourself doing. Red Rock is right around the corner for hiking, Lake Mead isn’t too far for boating, and several mountains aren’t far away for skiing/snowboarding.
Q. Least favorite?
A. Honestly, the touristic aspect of the strip. It’s just too many bright lights and too busy for my liking. I can handle the strip in small doses when I have friends or family visiting, but otherwise I stick to off-strip locations.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the show?
A. It is hard for me to pick my favorite part of “O.” I guess the general answer I would give is just how incredible the aspect of water comes into play during the show. One moment, you have a performer walking across the stage, and the next, one is diving into the water in the same spot.
Q. Out of all of the Cirque shows you have seen, which is your favorite, and why?
A. This answer could get me into trouble! But, I think I’ll have to go with “La Nouba” in Orlando. It was the first show I worked for and is one of the originals with Cirque du Soleil. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. I knew I wanted to get involved with athletic training, and my first year of undergrad I attended Central Connecticut State University on an academic scholarship. I just didn’t feel at home there, so a life-long friend of mine who was attending UCF had me come check out the school, and I immediately knew that it was the right school for me.
Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Getting to travel with the UCF Football team as a student athletic trainer to Hawaii to work the Hawaii Bowl.