On the Job: Pro Rider

Denver BMX Artist AJ Anaya discusses what it's like to be a part of the show.

Photo by Sasika Potter

If you know anything about live stage performances, you’ve probably heard of Cirque du Soleil. Cirque du Soleil (which means “Circus of the Sun” or “Sun Circus” in French) originated in a small town near Quebec City in Canada in the early ‘80s. Today, the iconic entertainment business employs 4,000 people— including 1,300 artists from 50 countries—and generates annual revenue of approximately $1 billion.

The next big thing to hit the thrilling Cirque roster is VOLTA, which stops in Denver April 30-June 7. What makes VOLTA unique is that it includes the energy, talents, and urban vibe of action sports athletes. Denver BMX Artist AJ Anaya is one of the performers to land a coveted spot. “I’m proud to be a part of a show that is breaking barriers. The tricks and stunts we perform represent freedom, liberation, and self-acceptance. It’s all about positivity.”

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Anaya calls Denver his home. “My fondest memories growing up in Denver are all of the outdoor activities and BMX contests. My introduction to the world of BMX was attending a show at the Pepsi Center when I was a kid. So, coming back to Denver to perform at the Pepsi Center 20 years later is mind-blowing. Everything comes full circle.”

Although he had a chance to play college baseball, Anaya decided his true passion was riding bikes. He’s been on two wheels ever since he can remember, and has taken part in numerous shows and events including America’s Got Talent, halftime shows for the NFL, NBA, and the NHL, and the Pan American Games. “It’s really amazing to be a part of the first BMX freestyle cast in Cirque’s history. I also love that our characters are depicting Free Spirits. I love the vibe.”

Anaya is a new dad and, despite demanding tour schedules, spends as much time as possible with his new baby, friends, and family. When it comes to his props, he has no time for cheap equipment. “A big part of being a professional rider is knowing that my bikes are safe and I do everything in my power to perfect my craft. I have a custom bike from top to bottom with my own signature frame. Everything is really high tech, lightweight, and top of the line.”

Above all, he’s happy to combine his love of riding with live performance. “I was taught by my mom early on that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. The fact that Cirque du Soleil has opened its arms to include action sports is a testament to how innovative they are. It’s also a real team effort with coaches and medical staff focused on the performers’ health, nutrition, and safety.” Anaya can’t wait to perform at home. “Denver is where I grew up and is a big part of who I am as a person today.”

VOLTA

April 30 – June 7

Pepsi Center Prius West Lot