By: Valerie Fortney – Calgary Herald
Calgary A.B. posted May 25, 2017 at 8:20AM
They spent the day driving through a May snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains, which included a near-collision with a tree that fell onto the highway in front of their caravan. By late afternoon, Aura Cardinali and Werner Guerrero finally arrive in Calgary, only to be greeted by pummelling rain and punishing winds.
“Oh, it’s not so bad,” says Cardinali when I ask her how crazy her day has been. “It’s always an adventure on the road.”
While it’s the kind of road trip that would have most in tears, these two are accustomed to much more death-defying feats. When they’re not steering a giant motorhome on the highway, the couple can be found about nine metres above the ground, walking on a wire.
Known as the Guerrero Duo, Cardinali and Guerrero have been travelling the world with their high-wire act for more than three decades. While they’re household names in Europe, they weren’t as well known on this side of the Atlantic until their appearance last year on the popular TV show America’s Got Talent.
“It was all too staged,” says Cardinali of their time in the TV spotlight, which included them performing on a windy day in Los Angeles. “They even tried to tell us what to say, like, ‘I really want a million dollars, so I can buy clothes and shoes.’”
On Wednesday, the couple park their massive trailer in a parking lot at Spruce Meadows, as fellow circus members, despite the rains, are busy marking where they will put their tent pegs the next day.
By Friday afternoon, they’ll all be ready for the debut of the Royal Canadian Family Spectac! 2017 — royalcanadiancircus.ca, which will be at Spruce Meadows May 26-28, before setting up at CrossIron Mills from June 1 to 4.
The show will include everything from the Aerial Motor Cycle Cyclone and the Super Poodles to clowns, Zerbini Liberty Horses and a hula hoop maze. Exotic animals, however, are no longer part of the show.
The Guerrero Duo, of course, is considered one of the main highlights of the annual event. Throughout their career, they’ve won numerous awards for their daring stunts and incredible footwork, their act including Cardinali belting out a tune while standing on her husband’s shoulders.
“She has an incredible voice,” Guerrero, 57, says of his 53-year-old wife as he hands me a CD of her songs.
While they spend 24 hours a day together most days of the year, the two behave more like newlyweds than a middle-aged couple with an adult daughter.
It’s not surprising, then, to hear that within three days of meeting one another in 1982, they were married.
“We fell in love at first sight,” says Cardinali, a native of Portugal. “Cupido was right there,” says Guerrero, who was born in Colombia but spent his formative years in the United States and Europe with his family’s travelling act. “We stuck like glue from the very first day.”
Both came from famed circus families. Cardinali sang, rode horses, and was a clown and contortionist; Guerrero was the sixth generation of wire walkers, renowned for their seven-person pyramid stunt.
Cardinali, though, had never tried the high wire. “My mother spent a year in a coma after falling off a trapeze,” she says. “She never wanted me to do trapeze or high wire.”
When Guerrero asked, she couldn’t refuse. By the late 1980s, they were performing together in the U.S., across Europe, and Asia.
Of course, it is a job not without unique perils. Guerrero has had two high-wire accidents, one that broke several bones, another that pulled several muscles in his back. Cardinali’s only work mishap was due to a crash while driving to a show.
“I’m scared every time I perform,” says Cardinali. “You never forget that one misstep is all it takes.”
Still, both husband and wife don’t have plans to retire soon. “We don’t smoke or drink, and we keep in good shape,” says Guerrero. “My father retired at 67, so I still have a few good years ahead.”
So, what do two world travellers who defy death daily do for fun outside the ring?
“We stay home and garden,” says Cardinali. “The last thing I want to do when I’m not working is drive anywhere.”
Post published by Calgary Herald