Bryan Burnstein, Head of Performance Science at Cirque du Soleil, describes which experiments his team has been carrying out these past weeks during live Las Vegas shows:
"Using a combination of Biometric data alongside objective and subjective data collected during live performance, our goal was to identify markers of central nervous system fatigue over time on Cirque du Soleil performers. Furthermore, we are cross-referencing this with mental effectiveness data to better understand the connection between mental effectiveness and quality of performance.
We used 20 artists from 2 Las Vegas based shows who participated for 6 weeks at a time, going through their normal performance schedule and training. These performers were from a variety of disciplines and had been performing at full duty in their show for at least 2 consecutive weeks before starting the data collection process. Performers provided 2 days of testing procedures per week (day 1 and 5 of their work week), and 5 days of subjective procedures. Testing included Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Vertical jump (VJ), Hand Grip Dynamometer (HG), and subjective measures (Rating of perceived exertion- RPE; Rating of perceived performance- RPP; Sleep duration and quality). We are able to measure workload through accelerometry and energy expenditure. Coaches also provided some subjective data to track training.
This analysis will allow us to focus in on the most heavily weighted variables at our disposal related to performance and training. Additionally, we will figure out which variables fail to give us clear information. Becoming more knowledgeable of what adaptations are occurring as a result of the training and performance workload allows manipulation of programs to address weaknesses in order to keep our performers fresh and healthy. This knowledge will also enhance our coaches’ ability to make objective decisions about a performer’s readiness as well as possibly predict times when a performer may not be at full strength.
Once the most important variables have revealed themselves through this initial round, we can begin manipulating those variables or the surrounding environment in future studies with the goal to effect change and further our understanding of the demands placed on the average Cirque du Soleil performer."