Looking through the windows at the Maverick Activities Center, one can catch a show of elegance and ferocity that is typically showcased in an acrobatic circus performance.
University studies junior Wes Mathewson dances with a cyr wheel, an acrobatic device that allows the user to perform a wide range of movement balanced on a metal hoop. Mathewson has been training with the device six days a week for about seven to 10 hours a day for seven months straight. Before training with the device, Mathewson used to compete as a gymnast in NCAA for one and a half years and represented UTA in the three months prior to his accident that caused him to retire from gymnastics.
In December 2012, Mathewson fractured his elbow. He decided to retire from gymnastics on April 17, 2013. Even before retiring from gymnastics, Mathewson had been looking for something new to show and finally found it after thinking about what else can be shown at next year’s One Night in Asia event.
Mathewson then went to YouTube, searched for performers and saw a video demonstrating roue cyr. From there, he looked through videos and forums before ordering the wheel and learning to use it from a guidebook.
Throughout the first month of picking up roue cyr, Mathewson’s transition from gymnastics was challenging but gradually became more natural.
“The first month I think was the hardest because it really pushes you to question your determination,” Mathewson said. “It questions your motivation and your character overall. Once you get past that, you get past all the B.S., you become more familiar with what you can do with this and it feels natural.”
Mathewson credits his experience in gymnastics as being crucial for his transition to roue cyr, but that didn’t stop the countless injuries he sustained from dancing with the 40-pound wheel.
“I’ve knocked myself out, two broken fingers, I’ve lost count of how many gnashed fingers and toes and I’ve had, like, two concussions and knocked some teeth out,” he said.
Mathewson performed on stage as a part of the 2013 One Night in Asia event. Tan Nguyen, UTA alumnus and 2012 Asian Heritage Month chairman, worked with Mathewson while Nguyen was a volunteer for the event and encouraged Mathewson to perform after seeing him practice at the MAC.
Nguyen said Mathewson’s performance at the event broke the mold from any past performances.
“I think they were just amazed,” Nguyen said. “I think they were just awestruck and stunned to see someone do that. It was beautiful, it was graceful and he kept going and it was a big thing.”
Mathewson’s drive and determination for his passion have always impressed his friend and neighbor Nicholas Watson, international business in French sophomore, from the day they met during freshmen orientation.
“I really admired his determination. He was always really focused and driven to do better than what he was doing,” he said. “Roue cyr offers him a way to continue doing things involving his body that he’s passionate about without really aggravating from his previous injury with gymnastics.”
Mathewson said he dreams to perform as a part of Cirque du Soleil. For now, he has his eyes set on competing in the Mavs Got Talent show in April.
“When I first started, it was cool because it was different,” he said. “I’ve never seen it before and nobody else has seen it before, so I started picking it up, and I just wanted to stand out.”
When Mathewson looked deeper into the art form, he was entranced by how a story can be expressed without even saying a word.
“I thought it was extremely beautiful,” he said.