When I’m teaching workshops I often get asked lots of questions about myself and how I got into doing the job I do. I appreciate that circus isn’t as normal to many people as it is to me! So I thought I’d answer some of those questions here and give you some fun examples of shows I’ve been in, past and present.
Q: How did you become a circus performer?
A: I was a competitive gymnast as a child, from age 6-16. I was in the British Championships as a tumbler (backflips and somersaults etc!). I also competed nationally at Sports Acrobatics doubles and trio (being balanced and thrown around and caught by other people!). I lived and breathed acrobatics but I also joined a local youth circus club in my teens and learned to juggle, stilt walk, unicycle, diabolo etc and these skills formed my core base. When at 18 years old I met some circus performers during a gap year between my A-levels and university, I saw an opportunity to continue doing what I absolutely loved as a career. I never made it to university, instead running away with the circus! Sorry mum.
Q: What do you mean by contemporary circus?
A: When I say the word circus many people picture a circus big top tent with all the caravans around it, red nosed clowns, popcorn, sawdust, glitz and big bands all travelling from town to town. This is traditional circus. We still have several traditional circuses’ that tour around the UK. One of my favourites is Giffords Circus, it’s small and really beautiful, it captures the old-fashioned romance and magic of traditional circus and the experience is really intimate. I’d really recommend seeing them if you get an opportunity.
Contemporary circus is the modern version. Often performers have trained in circus schools to learn their craft instead of being brought up in it. Quite often shows will have a narrative and characters as well as circus skills, it can be quite theatrical. Instead of touring and performing in a circus big top tent, we perform in theatres, festivals, public and private events. Many people have heard of Cirque du Soleil, they are the more famous name in contemporary circus but definitely not the only one! Personally I love the style of companies such as Cirque Eloize. I worked predominantly at outdoor arts festivals in the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. From Glastonbury festival to the Adelaide Fringe to Kelines Fest im Grossen Garten.
Q: What is your show?
A: I’ve worked in lots of different shows over 20 years of being a performer. I started with a big outdoor pyrotechnic fire company. As a circus entertainer you are freelance so sometimes you’ll work with your skills in a bigger group and sometimes on your own in your own show. I toured as a double act for many years doing a comedy acrobalance and tango show, called Strictly Dumb Prancing, we performed all over the world. It was a lot of fun. Acrobalance was always my niche skill.
Q: Do you still perform?
A: Yes. I retired from acrobatics shows in 2012 after an injury during a tour in Oz required several surgeries. I married my long suffering, stuck at home working whilst I toured, non circus partner Tim! I took over running Workshop Factory from my good friend Tiffany Howard, whom I was a long standing circus teacher for. I developed and rebranded it to The Workshop Company and expanded it to suit my skill set and circus teaching team. I also set up performance project and company with my husband, which I currently perform in called The Show Globe. I now tour this at events and arts festivals with my husband and our 4-legged friend Hudson.