By Rachel Severin
Jan 14, 2013
Kent Caldwell (B.F.A. and B.S. with Honors, U-M, 2010) has carved out an extraordinary life for himself, a balancing act that he manages gracefully. It seems fitting that he has found his calling, at least for now, as a performer for Cirque du Soleil. A Shipman Scholar and an All-American gymnast at Michigan, Kent embodied the quintessential scholar-athlete. The emerging artist obtained a dual degree in Art and Design and LSA, graduating with Honors in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Studies. Kent feels lucky to have a job that he loves and that affords him time to pursue the interests outside work that interest him. “I suppose by always pursuing the things I was truly passionate about – Art, Psychology, Gymnastics – I set myself up to really enjoy the work that I do today.”
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2010, Kent lived abroad for almost two years, first as a gymnastics coach in Guatemala City, then as an acrobat for Cirque du Soleil in Tokyo. Currently based in Las Vegas, he divides his time between performing with Chinese poles for Cirque du Soleil, and working as a freelance painter and sculptor. His art focuses on narratives and human experience. He hopes that he will still be performing in five years, and that he will also have established himself as a reputable visual artist. His dream is to work entirely freelance as an artist, building his miniature shadowboxes and environments, which you can explore at www.kentcaldwell.com. For now, he’s thrilled to work for a company that keeps him inspired and engaged.
Kent says his time at Honors exposed him to different fields of knowledge, encouraging him to become a lifelong learner. “I think the mental challenge and stimulation of…the University of Michigan has embedded in me a need to constantly continue on a path of intellectual growth and development.” Kent also appreciates the sense of community he found at Michigan. He says, “My involvement with the Shipman Society gave me an instant close-knit group of friends.” During his first year, he lived in South Quad in Thronson House, on the Shipman Society hall, which still holds an annual New Year’s Eve reunion. Kent’s favorite memory at Michigan was winning the 2010 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics National Team Championship – a remarkable experience of confidence, focus, and camaraderie. His advice to Current Honors students is to truly enjoy their time at the University of Michigan and to take time to establish close friendships. “There is so much to explore within the University and the city of Ann Arbor, and the mere 4 of 5 years to experience it all can come and go in a flash.”
While he looks back fondly on his Michigan experience, Kent loves where he is now. He finds his everyday work fascinating and inspiring. The spirit of lifelong learning that he developed at Michigan continues to motivate him as a performer. “Cirque du Soleil is a very artistic company, blending acrobatics with surreal narratives and stunning imagery. Everything from the costumes, to the set design, to the lighting is all top-notch, and even after performing in the same show over 400 times, I'm still discovering new details and finding new ways to grow in the show.” As Kent Caldwell continues to evolve as an artist, the LSA Honors community looks forward to seeing where his balancing act takes him next.