The Scenes: Trapezists Karyne And Sarah Steben
by Pamela Sitt, The Seattle Times (February
A weekly tour of the unexpected in the entertainment
and arts scene.
Who they are: They like to make people guess:
Sarah or Karyne? The identical Steben twins,
29, are the latest attraction at the "Dinner
and Dreams" Teatro ZinZanni show, where
they do things on a trapeze that make their
mother extremely nervous. Good thing she lives
in Montreal, where the Italian-Canadian sisters
were born before taking their trapeze act worldwide.
The Steben sisters, whose
limited engagement at Teatro ZinZanni ends April
4, have traveled with Cirque Du Soleil, choreographed
an aerial act for Madonna's 2001 "Drowned
World" tour and currently appear as conjoined
twins in the circus-set HBO drama series "Carnivale."
The trouble with twins:
Being a twin particularly in this line of work
has its advantages. "We are so in sync,
we don't need to speak to understand each other,"
Sarah says. Two years ago, when Karyne was pregnant
with her now-18-month-old daughter, Sarah's
boyfriend filled in on the trapeze at Cirque
Du Soleil's production of "O." "With
my boyfriend, it was double trouble," Sarah
says with a laugh.
But filming the first
season of "Carnivale" near Los Angeles
proved to be, at times, a bit too close for
comfort. "We were stuck together, closer
than we've ever been," Sarah says. "When
I'm cold and she's warm and if I need to go
to the bathroom and she's hungry, what do we
do?" Working in television, the twins found,
is less than glamorous: "We realized we
are in a circus all day long in the sand and
the cold," Karyne says. "The waiting
(is a challenge). And learning to perform for
a little camera we have to make every movement
The Steben sisters will
return to their home base in Los Angeles where
they live five minutes apart to start filming
the second season of the HBO series in April.
Knock on wood: Sarah
(the "catcher") has never dropped
Karyne (the "flyer") on the trapeze,
they say as they both knock on a wooden table.
But they make little mistakes during their trapeze
act all the time, albeit ones undetected by
the untrained eye.
"The dress goes
in your eyes, or sometimes the hair gets caught,"
Karyne says. "One time (Sarah) choked on
her hair." Her sister nods: "I had
my hair in my mouth the whole time." The
sisters have never seriously injured themselves
on the trapeze. "Whenever people (in the
circus) get hurt, it's stupid, like walking
to the stage and boom, you twist your ankle,"
Only Karyne's pregnancy
has ever sidelined either of the sisters from
the trapeze. "The first question I asked
in the hospital was, 'Was (giving birth) worse
than the pain we had on the trapeze?'"
Sarah says. The answer: "It's harder, but
with better results," says Karyne. "The
trapeze hurts, (but) I learned to like how it
hurts. You have to be a masochist a little bit."
The crystal ball: What
does the future hold for the high-flying Steben
sisters? They imagine another 10 years, at most,
on the trapeze. And then? "There are so
many things we want to do," Karyne says.
"We want to open an art studio someday.
We would love to do movies. If we did trapeze
in a movie, it would stay on the tape forever."
The sisters have already
recorded a demo CD described as "world
music, kind of Enya tunes" and may incorporate
singing into their "Carnivale" roles.
Despite an impressive
rsum of circus acts, music videos, commercials
and TV shows, "we feel like we've done
nothing," Sarah says. "One time, these
people wanted to write a (biography). We just
said to them, 'We have nothing! Wait till we're