My name is Gaukhar Akhmetova-Atherton, but everyone calls me Gasya. I was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan but now I'm living full-time in New York City.
I began training in gymnastics at the age of four. I was a natural build for the sport and excelled as a flyer in the discipline of women's trio. I trained and competed internationally for 14 years for my country.
At the age of 17 I was offered a contract to perform on a touring show with the world renowned Cirque du Soleil. The show was Varekai and it was about to embark on a two year tour to Australia and New Zealand. I loved it so much that I continued with Varekai for the European leg of the tour for four years. Varekai holds a special place in my heart as it is also where I met my husband, Andrew Atherton. A former Great Britain gymnast, now performing a duo aerial straps act with his identical twin brother, Kevin. It's also where I began to train and perfect my hand-balancing act.
I left Varekai in 2010 to take part in the creation of a brand new Cirque du Soleil show. The show was called IRIS and was a resident show for two years in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, home of the Academy Awards. My main discipline here was The Bungee Act, where I got to leap, somersault, and fly 45 feet in the air, above the audiences heads every night. It was amazing! Three major events happened in LA. I married my husband, Andrew in September of 2011. The birth of my eldest girl, Kamali in December 2012 and performing my hand-balancing at the 84th Academy Awards.
I have two children now. My girl Kamali is 3 years old and my boy Kaysen is 15 month old. They're both amazing children. They give Andrew and I so much joy. Kamali is already showing signs of following our footsteps. She loves to dance and will always join me when I'm training. I'm not a pushy mother and try to make everything we do together fun.
Being a mother is the most beautiful and rewarding thing in the world.
Yes, I had to postpone my ambitions and career with Cirque du Soleil but the positives of starting a family early in my career far outweighed the negatives. The moment I took Kamali to see her first Cirque du Soleil show, which her father and uncle were performing in was a moment I will never forget. The excitement in her eyes and voice when she saw them fly over our heads for the first time. It brought tears to my eyes. She turned and said "Mama, that's my papa and dyadya (uncle) Kevin". She was so proud. Now, four years on and two children later I feel I'm both ready emotionally and physically to start my career again. To know that one day soon it will be me on that stage with Kamali in the audience, looking at her mother perform. I will be so proud knowing I'll be leaving that impression in her little mind. That is what motivates me now.