How the Cyr Wheel Works

The Cyr Wheel Takes Off

Daniel Cyr, a graduate of the National Circus School in Montreal, began his circus career as a "free ladder" specialist, an act in which the performer climbs and balances atop a free-standing metal ladder, sometimes juggling for added difficulty [source: National Circus School]. In 1993, Cyr co-founded Cirque Éloize — a variety show modeled on Cirque de Soleil — and began to experiment with designs for the Cyr wheel.

Cyr performed with the wheel publicly for the first time in 1998 during a Cirque Éloize production called Excentricus [source: Inertie]. Over the next four years, he toured with the circus throughout North America, Europe and Asia, performing his evolving Cyr wheel routine at every stop. But it wasn't until his silver-medal performance at the 2003 "Circus of Tomorrow" festival that the Cyr wheel became a bona fide circus art.

Before 2003, Cyr had taught a handful of fellow Cirque Éloize artists how to use the wheel. After his triumphant performance in Paris, he was asked to mentor other performers, including Valérie Inertie — our helpful historian — who became the first Cyr wheel artist to perform outside of the Cirque Éloize.

In 2005, none other than the Cirque de Soleil came calling, asking Cyr to help them develop a Cyr wheel act for their show "Corteo." Cyr was also asked to perform his mono wheel routine as part of the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy [source: Cirque Éloize].

Cyr returned to his alma mater to train instructors at the National Circus School in Montreal how to teach the next generation of performers how to use this versatile apparatus [source: Inertie]. The Internet also spread the wheel's popularity, with dozens of YouTube videos showing performers, and websites selling professional-quality Cyr Wheels for less than $1,000.

Enough history, let's get spinning.