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Becoming a Circus Performer

Ever dreamed of running away from home and joining the circus? Think you have what it takes to be an acrobat or trapeze artist? To find out some of the ins and outs of becoming a circus performer, Kidzworld spoke with Philippa Hayball, an acrobat and dancer with Cirque du Soleil's circus show, Quidam.

Circus Performers - Getting Started

Not just anyone can go and join the circus and become an acrobat or trapeze artist. You need to have a specific talent, the right body type and be very determined. Philippa's road to circus stardom started when she was five years old. "I did musical theatre and ballet and all kinds of music, singing, acting and everything to hone my craft," says Philippa, who also trained in rhythmic gymnastics for years. "When I was 11, I knew I wanted to be a performer, so I went for it. I gave up everything else and concentrated on my dancing and performing. There are so many people out there who want to do what you do, that you have to go for it. You have to put your heart into it and be certain that that's what you want to do."

Circus Performers - The Upside

One of the upsides of being in the circus is that you get the chance to travel the world. Philippa has worked all over the planet, including Australia, Japan and all over North America. "The circus has given me the opportunity to go to so many different places and meet so many different people. I travel on the road with 100 people who are like a circus family to me, who are with me the whole time. When you're young, it's the time to do it. It's the time to travel, the time to grow and experience your life."

Philippa also gets a thrill from performing in front of a live audience. "I get to play and have fun every night. It's great to see the faces of the audience just jump alive when I make eye contact with them during a performance. You can see the audience being transported to another world."

Circus Performers - The Downside

Despite what many people think, the life of a circus performer isn't all high-flying fun and games and clowning around. It's more glamorous than being an accountant, but there are some drawbacks. Circus performers work long days and spend a lot of time away from home. "On tour, you don't really have anywhere to call home and you're always thinking about that night's show," says Philippa. "I miss my home and garden and I don't see my family. You have to work a lot of long hours and weekends as well."

Circus Performers - How's the Circus Bling?

How much money you make in the circus all depends on what your act is, how much experience you have and what circus company you're working for. For example, the lead acrobat or trapeze artist with Cirque du Soleil or Ringling Brothers is going to make more moola than the guy who sells programs or shovels up the crap from the lion's cage. Entry-level jobs in the circus might pay around $300 a week, while featured performers like acrobats, contortionists or trapeze artists can make between $40,000 to $70,000 a year. You also get free room and board while you're traveling with the show, which is an added perk.

Circus Performers - Finding a Circus Job

For more info on job openings with a circus, check out the following links.

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Coolest Kind of Circus Performer?

  • Acrobat.
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