What Are Circus Skills And How To Become A Circus Performer

18th July 2022

What Are Circus Skills And How To Become A Circus Performer
Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

Hello circus performers! Come join the circus and try your hand at some aerial circus skills or try your hand at some hand walking! What are the roles in the circus and where can you find circus skills near you? Do you want to know how much a circus performer gets paid and what are the most renowned companies to join?  This will all become clear if you keep reading!

What Are Circus Skills?

These are acrobatic skills that have been performed over many years for all types of shows, including the circus, vaudeville, variety etc. They are physically demanding and whilst they can defy gravity and ignite imagination in their audiences, community is vital. There is a non-competitive atmosphere to training. So whether you are perfecting your Static Trapeze or the chair balancing, you will be supported 100% of the way.  

Learning circus skills not only improves your physical skills – whilst being a whole lot of fun of course – but they are known to have increased attention span and focus, personal and social growth, mental and emotional health. 

As the American Circus Educators Magazine says ‘Circus can inspire you to learn, grow, have more discipline, build strength, coordination, create an entire routine by yourself and open your life in ways you never thought possible. Dare to inspire and be inspired by others.’ Now that’s a quote to live by isn’t it? 

If you want to take on some circus skills at home, whether that be in London or any city in the US, there will always be some like-minded people close-by.  Circus skills training is and always will be popular. Aerial fitness has grown a large following and companies such as ‘My Aerial Home,’ ‘National Centre for Circus Arts’ – which both provide classes in London that cater to those who see this as a vocation or those who just want to try something new. 

My Experience Of Aerial Workshops

I have tried a circus skills workshop in London with ‘My Aerial Home’ based in Sydenham and in a class of about 10, we all managed to perform aerial acrobatics whilst hanging from a piece of rope or silk. Albeit, there were better performers in the class compared to me, but I would certainly recommend it. Give it a go and all you can do is improve with time and the teachers – Parkey & Grania – are what make it. Aerial skills can improve your core, arms, legs and grip. And don’t forget about flexibility too!

Where Can I Find Circus Skills Workshops?

Wherever you live, whether that be in London, Sheffield, Los Angeles, Cornwall or New York, you will always be able to find somewhere local to test out those acrobatic skills. Even at your local gym, they will have some sort of scheme that you can join. In circus workshops, you could learn everything from juggling, aerial skills to balancing acts. Here is a list of those around the globe you can find near you.  

  • Aerial Arts NYC – New York 
  • CirqueHaus – New York 
  • Cirque School – Los Angeles 
  • Circus Glory Trapeze School – London 
  • Funky Monkey Academy – Bath
  • Circo Kernow – Cornwall 
  • My Aerial Home – London 
  • Greentop Community Circus Centre – Sheffield
  • Om Factory – New York 
  • Los Angeles Aerial Acrobatic Classes – Los Angeles

What Type Of Circus Equipment Will I Work With?

 If you are thinking of joining the circus and want to know what you could be working with on a day-to-day basis, then you it would be useful to get familiar with the following: 

  • Diablo
  • Hula Hoops
  • Trapeze
  • Flowtoys Podpoi
  • Aerial Hoop
  • Aerial Silk 
  • Juggling Balls
  • Spinning Plate
  • Juggling Clubs
  • Glitter Balls
  • Devilsticks
  • Flower Sticks
  • Fire Torches  

And don’t forget you may even work with animals in some companies or the make-up you can wear too!

aerial skills

Cirque Du Soleil 

Now, if you haven’t heard of this incredible group of performing artists, where have you been? You need to book a ticket to see them and maybe you have dreamed of becoming part of their renowned acrobatic group. This Canadian company continues to amaze audiences with their outstanding physical strength and one of the many reasons why their shows tend to be sold out.

Since the company was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 16 June 1984 by former street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, it has always taken on circus styles from around the world to astound audiences. There usually is a storyline and theme and performances can last between 2 – 2hrs 30 minutes. They have toured the globe, and also have permanent shows in many large cities in the world. 

Famous Circus Performers

  • Isaac Van Amburgh – Lion Tamer
  • Dan Rice – Clown
  • Annie Oakley – Professional sharpshooter
  • Jules Leotard – Trapeze artist 
  • Rosa Maria Richter – Human Cannonball 
  • Charles Blondin – Tightrope Artist
  • May Wirth – Bareback Rider
  • Lillian Leitzel – Gymnast

What Do You Need To Do To Become A Circus Performer?

  • Practice your skill
  • Be fit and healthy 
  • Develop your routine
  • Work on your act 
  • Make a demo tape
  • Head to circus school and train
  • Build up your resume with private, corporate gigs
  • Work at circus festivals
  • Be prepared to live on the road
  • Be strong willed and determined 

How Much Do Circus Performers Earn?

It varies, but at the start a performer may be earning $300 per week and if you are a featured performer, you could earn up to $40,000 – $70,000 in a year. If you are on the road, you will be getting free bed and board. In the UK, if you have a good reputation and your show is unique you could earn up to £200 for just 10 minutes, and at Cirque Du Soleil you could make upwards of £500 per day. Solo performers make up to £100,00 per year.  

Final Thoughts 

So there you have it, has this inspired you to step into the ring and perform? I hope so.  

As David Niven – a British actor – once said, ‘Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going, don’t take anything too seriously, it’ll all work out in the end.’ Of course, now this was in relation to acting, but I liked the quote so there you go! 

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