Trevor Bodogh (Finance ’09) is an acrobat on wheels. Perched on bike pedals, he balances on top of boulders, climbs stairs, and hops between railings. Bodogh is a trial bike performer, executing highly precise stunts on a specialized mountain bike without a seat. He’s spent 15 years, and more than 10,000 hours, perfecting his abilities. Now, he’s performing in Volta, Cirque du Soleil’s new show, which comes to Toronto this fall.
It’s an unlikely career path for a finance graduate. In 2009, he attended the Virox Future Forum, an annual event showcasing trends in business. He was inspired to make a living pursuing his passion for riding, so he went on Dragon’s Den, a television show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to win investors’ cash. He pitched his idea for bike stunt demonstrations at promotional and entertainment events, and credits former business professors with helping him develop cash flow projections and marketing plans before his presentation. While he didn’t earn the Dragons’ cash, he didn’t give up either. In 2010, he applied for a loan to start his own small business doing bike shows, then he took on a contract at Canada’s Wonderland as part of his first show called Cirque Imagine, and for the next five years he toured across the United States performing on stage. In 2013, he took the next step in his journey and scraped together the cash to fly to Las Vegas to audition for Cirque du Soleil.
Although he heard that he’d been accepted into the troupe right away, he had to wait until there was a spot in the show for his unique skills. By the end of 2015, he’d nearly given up hope. “It’s a tiring, risky, full-time job to keep your body in top shape for this style of riding,” he says. At the beginning of 2016, he took stock of his goals and where he saw his life going. “If I didn’t have a major opportunity miraculously come into my life to sustain my passion for riding, I’d have to start looking to make some major life changes,” he recalls.
“It’s a tiring, risky, full-time job to keep your body in top shape for this style of riding.”
Just a week later, he finally got the call and was invited to Montreal for further auditions and fitness testing. In June, he signed his contract for Volta, and in October he packed up his belongings and moved from Niagara to Montreal. Then he had to learn acting, dancing and make-up techniques, along with taking part in physiotherapy and psychological coaching to perform on stage. He admits it’s been a steep learning curve, but he’s enjoying every minute of the journey. “I’m a pretty horrible dancer,” he confesses. “It’s an extremely fun process when you let go of embarrassment, and give yourself to the professionals guiding you through this vulnerable process. I know how to use my bike and body together, but using my body alone is a whole other world.”
It can be a grinding schedule in a risky sport. He’s earned his fair share of rolled ankles, and gashes in his shins. Not to mention the broken bikes and close calls along the way. It’s a small price to pay to spend each day living his dream. Bodogh says the key to his success has been a combination of timing, perfecting his skills and the right opportunity.
“Every tear or drop of blood are things that I accept as part of the natural existence of this path. The reward behind it is the freedom of doing something I’ve loved all my life – bicycling and taking my skill to the limit. Without continuous self-improvement, or support from family, friends, mentors and strangers, my journey and dream wouldn’t have been possible.”