'Three times a week, I wake up in time to exercise all the horses at 9am. One rider leads from the front, about a dozen horses gallop behind and another rider closes the herd. Other days, I wake up later, around 8.30am. My five-year-old daughter is in Hong Kong with me. As I raise her by myself, I couldn't leave her for two months in France. I help her to wash and get dressed then we go down to the hotel's cafe for breakfast. This is my favourite meal in Hong Kong. At the hotel, you can find croissants and fresh fruit. There's a big difference between the food here and in France. It's more challenging for my daughter at lunch and dinner. After breakfast, we walk over to the stables and performance grounds; it's convenient because they are very close. There, I groom my horses. I might do a bit of lunging [circular training of a horse at the end of a long rope] and work on some gymnastics on horseback. The mornings are usually relaxed; the work takes about two hours. I never have to drag myself to work. While the day-to-day chores are the same as for any horse owner, the routine doesn't bother me because I love what I do. The life of a travelling show performer has different rhythms to that of any other. We travel around in the spirit of real gypsies. Ethnically, I'm a mixture of Algerian, French and a bit of Tzigane [French gypsies of Romany descent]. Most of us in the company are mixed - there are those with Moroccan origins, Russian, etc - but I was raised in a 'normal' French household, with none of the gypsy traditions, until I joined the company. My passion is voltige [equestrian vaulting] but I also enjoy the journeying aspect of the job. There are about 40 horses in total in the stables. Each rider is responsible for one to three horses. I have three. Their names are Lou Lou, a Percheron from France, Mealua, a Lithuanian breed, and Poseidon, a Criollo from Argentina. We keep the same horses during the run of a show. I exercise them, groom them and perform with them. After almost two years together [Battuta premiered on May 5, 2006, in Istanbul], they are like my own horses. The company is based in Paris but half the year we are travelling. After two months in Hong Kong, we will perform in Poland then Lyon, Versailles, Brussels, Japan then Moscow. The horses can get tired from the travel, but generally they adapt well. The company usually keeps each horse for two shows, each of which runs for three years. On average, after six years, a horse goes to pasture - in other words, into retirement. They never go directly to the butcher. Lunch can be eaten in the neighbourhood or I'll get take-out and bring it back to the hotel. I'll spend time with my daughter, taking walks or playing games. The afternoon is free until 5pm, when the entire company meets - except the horses. There are about 50 of us, including riders, technicians and Tzigane musicians - and of course Bartabas, the founder of Zingaro. I have no idea how old he is but he's been working with horses for more than 20 years. He doesn't miss a thing. Every night, he watches the performance and notices the details, which Marion [his assistant] jots down. There is always something to work on, such as timing or choreography. We discuss these points at the meeting. Around 6.30pm, the riders go to their horses and prep them for the show. We jog them for an hour to warm up their muscles then dress them for the performance. The saddles are built with handles that we use for leverage during the show. Half an hour before the performance, we go to the dressing rooms for costume and make-up. The women wear flowing skirts and initially I found it difficult to do stunts in them. But now I'm used to it. In fact, I've learned to play with the movement of the skirt. As the audience enters, we are already inside the arena with the horses, gathered around the fountain in the centre. We are quiet, with heads bowed. This is my best moment for meditation and focus. I relish that time, because once the show starts everything moves so fast. It's a continuous flow, which feels amazing. It lasts about one hour 15 minutes. After the show, around 9.15pm, we return the horses to the stable and I take about 20 minutes to get out of costume. I collect my daughter from the babysitter and we go back to the hotel for some shut-eye. I can't expect my daughter to follow in my footsteps. The only thing I wish for her is to have her own passion in life, be it in dance or voltige or mathematics, anything. It's important for her to be inspired by something - that is what has allowed me to advance in life. Before Zingaro, I was working for small equestrian troupes as well as in restaurants and bars - a mixture of things. I have been interested in voltige since I was a little girl. I started riding when I was my daughter's age. I was competing till I was 14. After that, I became more interested in performance. It was my dream to be a part of Bartabas' company. I believe it is the best of its genre. There are troupes in the US and Canada, but those are more circus-like. Zingaro is really about theatre. My parents were not into horses when I was growing up - they enrolled me in voltige school because I was a hyperactive kid. Riding calmed me down. When they took me to see a performance by Bartabas, I was hooked. When I finally worked up the courage to ask him to take me on, I had to approach him many times. Finally he took me on a trial basis, so every day for a month I worked for him. After that, once he knew he could get along with me, he allowed me to join as a full member.' Zingaro will be performing the show Battuta at the Hung Hom Ferry Pier Lawn, in Kowloon, until March 23. Tickets are available through Urbtix.