Former gymnast, with participations in European Championships and World Cups, Emanuel (Manu) Badila (23 years old) decided to give up competitions when he was 20 years old. A career as a gymnastics coach followed – first in Romania, his native country, then in Dubai. There, one morning, a friend told him that two acrobats will be hired for “La Perle”, the most famous acrobatic show in Dubai. He went to preselection encouraged by that friend – without having too many hopes – and at the end of the selection was one of two future acrobats selected from 65 candidates. Today, he has more than 600 shows he has performed into, but the feeling is still the same – he is happy, grateful and still can’t believe that he is actually there. The show is highly spectacular, a “must see” if you get to Dubai, and among spectators had been famous stars such as Zinedine Zidane, Floyd Mayweather, Ronaldinho, Gianni Infantino – president of FIFA and many more.
The story starts when Manu was 4 years old and his father wanted him to practice some sports – “I was a little bit fat”, he says, laughing. He started practicing gymnastics, when he was 9 participated to his first contest, a National Championship, and got the silver medal.
When he was 13 he was elected in the National Lot of Juniors, participated at two editions of the European Championships and many World Cups and, at the age of 18, was elected in The National Lot of Seniors. He decided to withdraw when he was 20 – and started training, first in Sibiu, his native town, then at Dinamo, one of the biggest Romanian sport clubs.
Gymnastics couch in Dubai
In 2016, one colleague asked him he would not be interested in training in Dubai – and that was the beginning of an incredible adventure. “When I first got here, I was wearing a jacket, long trousers, I was “dressed up to my neck”, there was a storm in Romania when I had left. The owner of the club was waiting for me at the airport –You didn’t know that in Dubai is summer? There were over 40 degrees”, he remembers, laughing.
The first impression was one of WOW – “I was super excited by the buildings, the roads, I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was extremely beautiful, like in the magazines”, he says.
Selected for “La Perle”
Almost two years later, he got an offer to train in Sweden – and was thinking about going there. “I have announced my club, and one morning, before leaving, I was talking to a friend, I was about to leave in one month. He had seen there were some auditions for La Perle – I didn’t even know what that was”, he remembers.
It’s a highly impressive acrobatic show – a “must see” if you get to Dubai, and among spectators had been famous stars such as Zinedine Zidane, Floyd Mayweather, Ronaldinho, Gianni Infantino – president of FIFA and many more.
According to their website “La Perle features a breathtaking fusion of immersive artistic performances, imagery and technology. La Perle is influenced by Dubai’s rich culture, vibrant present and aspirational future, which is brought to life by awe-inspiring stunts and special effects that will leave viewers speechless. Feel embedded with the artists at the 270-degree seating provides a different perspective of the action unfolding in the tailor-made aqua theatre. Witness the stage flood with water and drain in a matter of seconds as the artists perform mind-blowing aqua and aerial feats, such as diving from 25 meters high”.
So he thought he could give it a try – and went to the first round of auditions. 65 candidates were there, and only 2 available positions in the show. The first round was with gymnastic elements, mobility, force, basic exercises. 6 remained after first round of auditions – and he was one of them. “On the second round there were more difficult exercises, elements from gymnastics, we also had a dance test”, he remembers. At the end, he and a boy from United Kingdom were selected. It was the beginning of an incredible dream.
“I had huge emotions, I had never been in a show before, I didn’t know how to act”, he remembers, still with emotions when talking about the contest and the beginning. “I went to the training area, I was introduced – Our new artist, please welcome him – and I blushed”, he remembers, laughing.
Two months of hard trainings followed. One month he had to stay in the stands and watch the entire show every day.
The dream, on the stage
He keeps in mind every moment of first performance – few seconds in the show, that lasts for one hour and a half. “Three months after I entered the show I participated to all artistic performances. I had ambition – what can’t I if there are other 60 artists who can?”, he says.
The hall where they perform was specially built for the show and has a capacity of 1344 seats. Ten shows are played every week. Now, after more than 600 shows performed, he has the same emotions and the same joy at every meeting with his audience. “There are emotions all the time, adrenalin, the same. There are a lot of people who want to know us, we get super applause, I still can’t believe I’m here, during the show I’m thinking – Oh, my God, am I really here – the feeling you have can’t be described”, he says.
The courage to follow your dream and your heart
Of course it wasn’t easy to get here – it was and keeps on being a lot of hard work, but he never gave up. “It was hard for me to leave home when I was 20, I had nothing. Difficult moments are everywhere, the easiest thing is to give up, but it’s not the best decision – you have to look for the opportunity, always.
My happiness is when I see my parents smiling and the audience applauding what I’m doing – those are the moments I’m the happiest. My mother came to our show and after she started crying”, he says.
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