VIDEO PREVIEW: Roll up, roll up for Yorkshire girl in Cirque du Soleil's Varekai at Leeds First Direct Arena
Yorkshire girl Emily McCarthy says she would have bent over backwards to be in Cirque du Soleil and now she does exactly that every night.
She ran away with the posh circus five years ago.
And after travelling the world she is looking forward to a very special homecoming when Cirque du Soleil returns to town next week.
The 21-year-old is the only UK girl in its latest colourful spectacular, Varekai, Tales of The Forest, which will play seven performances - Wednesday to Sunday, February 22 to 26 - at Leeds First Direct Arena.
That's just up the road from her family home in Tingley.
BUY TICKETS: Tickets to see Varekai at Leeds First Direct Arena are from Â£53 - available from Leeds First Direct Arena box office in person, call the hotline on 0844 248 1585 or visit www.firstdirectarena.com.
In the crowd will be family and friends including her biggest fans - proud mum Julie, 52, dad Andrew, 56, twin brother Max and brother Oliver, 17.
Five-year-old cousin Lexi is following in her famous footsteps. She trains at the same Wakefield Gym Club, at Thornes Park Stadium, where Emily's talent was spotted by a Cirque scout.
Her amazing athleticism is one of the many highlights of Varekai, featuring super human acrobatics, juggling, contortion, balancing and more.
Varekai - pronounced ver·ay·’kie and translating as “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies - features outrageously colourful costumes, turning its large cast into fantastical half-human creatures, set against a forest backdrop.
Emily, one of the Slippery Surface Flyers who appears in the first scene in the second half, told how she underwent Olympic training fro the age of six at her local gymnastics club but was spotted by a Cirque du Soleil scout and jumped at the chance to see the world.
In five years she has been all over Europe, North and South America, including her favourite place, Costa Rica.
Emily said: "Every gymnast wants to be part of Cirque. It's the number one show to be in. Acrobatic gymnastics is not an Olympic sport but where I am now is gold for me.
"It was always a dream and I would have bent over backwards to be in Cirque. Now I am actually bending over backwards every day on stage.
"Now I see myself more as a performer than an athlete. The show has taught me so much about me, my stage presence and how to perform in front of thousands of people. I'm definitely a performer now.
"Everybody thought I was a bit bonkers. But from a young age I said I was going to run off with the circus and when I did my family was so supportive. If they had said no I would have anyway.
"I've been on Varekai four years now and I thought the perfect time to finish was after the UK tour. I'm hoping to stay with Cirque and continue my journey with them but on a different show.
"Any Cirque du Soleil is an amazing experience and Varekai is a great show. You are going to see acrobatics and performances you won't see anywhere else. There are 10 acrobats in my scene alone - it's very technical and precise. Then we put that on a slippery surface to make it even more difficult, representing an underwater scene. There's lots of contortion, strength and balancing, combined with dance and choreography.
BUY TICKETS: Tickets are from Â£53 and available from Leeds First Direct Arena box office in person, call the hotline on 0844 248 1585 or visit www.firstdirectarena.com.