Shae Zamardi was a successful gymnast who earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University with a degree in sports marketing and business. However, she wanted more. “I had been a gymnast my entire life and I went to college for four years,” she says. “After college, I got a job in the real world when I realized I missed swinging on a bar. I had a friend who was in Cirque du Soleil. I tried out and I was hired.” Now she’s a part of “Amaluna,” which plays a tent outside of State Farm Stadium March 15 to April 14.
“Amaluna” invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon. Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honors femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance. In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering an epic, emotional story of love between Prospera’s daughter and a brave young suitor.
CAREER AND LSU
Zamardi was a competitive gymnast for 16 years, and a part of Team Canada for three years before joining LSU’s gymnastics team. “I visited LSU with my mom and they offered me the scholarship on my first trip down and I was hooked,” she says. During her freshman season, the Tigers finished third at nationals then
jumped to second in her junior and senior years, just missing the prestigious NCAA championship.
“It was tough,” she says. “We wanted the championship, but I had so much fun in my time at LSU. It was just an amazing time and the sport grew so much while I was there.” After four years of work, Zamardi
graduated and put her gymnastics behind her. “I had a 9-to-5 desk job when I was told that Cirque Du Soleil had an opening,” Zamardi says. “They contacted me and asked me if I was interested. I started training about a week before my tryout and recorded myself on the bars and they liked what they saw.”
She joined the team in November 2018 and began working on “Amaluna,” for which she plays an Amazon.
“It is just an amazing show and I have never had more fun than I am right now,” Zamardi says. “I come to work with a smile on my face and, even though it is a lot of hard work, I love my job.”
The name Amaluna is a fusion of the words “ama,” which refers to “mother” in many languages, and “luna,” which means “moon,” a symbol of femininity that evokes the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet. Amaluna is also the name of the mysterious island where
the story unfolds.
“Amaluna is a tribute to the work and voice of women,” explains Director of Creation Fernand Rainville. “The show is a reflection on balance from a woman’s perspective.”
Director Diane Paulus adds, “I didn’t want to build a ‘women’s agenda’ show. I wanted to create a show with women at the center of it, something that had a hidden story that featured women as the heroines.”
When she joined, Zamardi instantly noticed the difference between this and her days as a gymnast.
“I had done gymnastics for 15 years, and after two years in retirement, that part came back to me like riding a bicycle,” Zamardi says. “The hardest part is the story and becoming a character and knowing when I enter the stage, I leave Shae and become my amazon character.”
When asked for her favorite part of the show, she had an immediate answer.
“The look on the kids and faces of the families as they watch the show is what it is all about,” she says. “That and kids coming up to me after the show with a look of amazement on their faces, that makes it all worth it.”
“Amaluna,” State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive, Glendale, statefarmstadium.com, various times Friday, March 15, to Sunday, April 14, tickets start at $55.