“It’s like the universe gave me my body back”

Back in the circus as an acrobat: After a trapeze accident in a wheelchair, Silke Pan didn’t dare to dream. And yet it is now done. Meeting an artist for whom the track’s call to the stars is stronger than anything else.

Silke Pan is reborn in the circus

Back in the circus as an acrobat: After a trapeze accident in a wheelchair, Silke Pan didn’t dare to dream. And yet it is now done.

08/05/2022

Tied to her chair, she looks at the podium in amazement: “That’s where I belong,” says Silke Pan. And in a few minutes, in the number she is presenting at the Helvetia circus, she twirls on her arms and almost makes the viewer forget that her lower body has not reacted for a long time.

This journey takes only a moment in this autobiographical edition, but it will have taken a journey of fourteen years to reach this incredible result.

In 2007, the professional artist’s career suffered a brutal standstill: “I worked as a contortionist and trapeze artist in an amusement park in Italy. At the end of the season I fell in training. And then I broke two vertebrae and other things as well… my body was pretty shattered. Since then I’ve been paraplegic,” says Silke Pan.

When she leaves the hospital, the doctors explain what she has to do without. The circus is over. The artist has to mourn her: “Throughout the years, this passion has always been deep within me, but I thought it was impossible. Since I didn’t want to hurt myself, I “put on blinkers” and looked ahead, devoted myself to other things.”

The crash was a rock I had to climb on my life journey»

Far from letting go, the athlete began a career as a handbike, the bicycle pulled by the power of the arms. She quickly shines in competition and, as part of her project “La Suisse à bout de bras”, takes on breathtaking challenges such as climbing 13 Alpine passes.

When she’s 100% into it, Silke Pan still recognizes: “I’ve learned to love paracycling, even if it wasn’t my passion at all”. But there, too, everything suddenly stops in 2020: the competitions are canceled due to the Covid.

“Tears of joy flowed”

Always looking for new challenges, this woman smiles with character. She uses the time that the pandemic offers her to “let her imagination run wild,” she says. So she decides to check if she can still do the push-ups vertically like she did in the past before her accident.

“There I discovered that my cells had not forgotten his sensations of trying to balance on his hands. I asked my husband Didier to hold me and he came up with the idea of ​​strapping all the paralyzed body parts to a snowboard to stiffen them up,” she beamed.

Dates and locations of the Helvetia Circus Summer Tour

  • Eagle August 6 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m
  • Eagle Aug. 7 at 3 p.m
  • mornings August 9 at 8 p.m
  • mornings Aug. 10 at 3 p.m
  • Villars sur Ollon Aug. 12 at 6 p.m
  • Villars sur Ollon August 13 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m
  • Villars sur Ollon Aug. 14 at 3 p.m

In less than ten minutes, she realizes that she has regained her abilities: “At that moment tears of joy flowed, I had the impression of reliving, of being reborn. It’s like the universe gave me my body back. As if there were no more handicaps at the time of the number”.

Happiness comes from ourselves, from our attitude towards life»

Seeing her progress on social media, she contacted the director of the Lausanne circus school: she offered the artist to come and collect her podium, which she had given him when she had put an end to her past. “It was an intense emotion there too. My podium was covered in dust, but when I found it, it transported me to another dimension. I was ‘at home’ as if I had gone back in time,” she recalls.

unconditional and eternal love

Yes, Silke Pan admits, the circus took everything from him. But she never stopped loving him. “It was always a call from within, a calling, it was stronger than anything else. I knew I was in my right place. The accident was a rock I had to climb on my life journey. But this path has always been in the show. Despite the pain and strain, I have never regretted being a trapeze artist.”

Falling into an acrobatic number as a paraplegic is not without risk. When she fell, Silke Pan could no longer catch her legs. She knows. She works a lot on stress management, confidence, feeling aligned, emotions. For the most dangerous performances of her number, she secures herself with a safety line.

“I don’t want to be careless with fate,” admits the acrobat. I’m thankful, I feel gratitude for all that I can still do. And I don’t want to tempt the devil.” Never far from her, her husband Didier Dvorak joins in the act, also helping to calm her and keep her focused.

Closer to the stars

Doors begin to open for Silke Pan, she receives job offers for her “second artistic career”, as she calls it. She will soon be the guest of honor at the Salieri Circus Awards in Italy, where she will perform in a new duet number with an Italian dancer.

“I’m happy! At the same time it’s a challenge, but I like it. If life were too easy, I’d be bored,” says the artist, true to herself.

His journey is already a life lesson. And Silke Pan is always happy to pass on his experience: “Salvation does not come from outside. Happiness comes from ourselves, from our choices, from our attitude towards life. You have to know what you have and let it grow. Controlling our emotions without bullying them, knowing how to nourish ourselves with all the beautiful things in life so as not to fade, mold from within. And then you need a certain personal discipline,” she says.


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