What is a Circus Performer?

A circus performer is an individual who entertains audiences by showcasing their skills in various acts and performances in a circus. Circus performers may specialize in a particular act such as acrobatics, trapeze, juggling, clowning, or animal training. They are highly skilled and trained professionals who undergo years of practice and training to perfect their craft. Many circus performers start their careers at a young age and may come from circus families, where performing is a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation.

Circus performers often travel extensively, performing in different cities and countries. They may work for a particular circus company or be freelance performers who work with multiple circuses. While performing, circus performers must maintain a high level of physical fitness, as their acts often involve stunts and high-risk maneuvers that require strength, flexibility, and agility. Successful circus performers must possess a passion for their craft, a strong work ethic, and the ability to captivate and engage audiences of all ages.

What does a Circus Performer do?

Two aerialists performing.

Circus performers are highly skilled artists who entertain audiences with their breathtaking acts and feats of strength, balance, and agility. From acrobats and aerialists to clowns and contortionists, circus performers come in all shapes and sizes, and their unique talents and personalities add to the magic of the circus experience.

Whether performing in a traditional big top or a contemporary circus arena, these performers captivate and inspire audiences with their daring stunts and displays of athleticism, often pushing the limits of what the human body can achieve. Circus performers are truly a marvel to behold, and their commitment to their craft is a testament to the power of creativity, determination, and passion.

Types of Circus Performers
Circus performers are known for their incredible athleticism, showmanship, and ability to entertain audiences with their unique talents and skills. Here are some common types of circus performers:

  • Acrobats: These circus performers specialize in performing feats of strength, grace, balance, and flexibility with elements of dance, gymnastics, and contortionism. Some acrobats work with animals, balancing and performing acrobatic stunts on top of moving elephants or horses.
  • Aerialists: Aerialists perform acrobatic and artistic movements while suspended in the air using various apparatus, such as aerial silks, trapeze, aerial hoop, and aerial straps. They may perform solo acts or as part of a group, and their performances often involve a combination of dance, acrobatics, and artistry.
  • Clowns: Clowns use physical comedy and exaggerated actions to entertain audiences. Many are part of a larger group or circus troupe, and may perform a variety of acts such as juggling, acrobatics, or stunts. Clowns are known for their ability to make people laugh and their unique ability to connect with audiences of all ages.
  • Jugglers: Jugglers manipulate and control objects such as balls, clubs, rings, or knives, in a rhythmic and coordinated way. They may perform alone or as part of a group, and they may entertain audiences in a variety of settings, such as circuses, festivals, theaters, or street performances.
  • Tightrope Walkers: These performers walk along tightropes, often at great heights, demonstrating their balance and concentration. They must maintain their balance while walking, jumping, or performing other acrobatic feats on thin wire.
  • Ventriloquists - Ventriloquists create the illusion that a separate, inanimate object or character is speaking through them, often using a puppet or ventriloquist dummy.
  • Magicians - Magicians entertain circus audiences by performing magic tricks, effects, or illusions. These tricks and illusions seem impossible or supernatural to the audience.
  • Animal Trainers: Some circus performers work with animals, training them to perform tricks or stunts in the circus ring. They get animals accustomed to human contact in order for them to behave in a certain way and to respond to specific commands.
  • Trapeze Artists: Trapeze artists are circus performers who use swings and ropes to perform aerial tricks and acrobatics. They require a combination of strength, flexibility, and grace to execute their movements and captivate audiences with their daring performances.
  • Contortionists: Contortionists are circus performers who showcase extreme flexibility and control over their bodies, often bending and twisting into seemingly impossible positions. Their performances require years of training and discipline, and they are often a popular and awe-inspiring act.
  • Fire Breathers: Fire breathers are circus performers who spew fire from their mouths, often using special fuels and techniques to control the flames. Their acts require skill, precision, and a high level of safety awareness, and are often considered one of the most thrilling and dangerous circus acts.
  • Stilt Walkers: Stilt walkers are circus performers who walk on stilts, often wearing elaborate costumes and performing tricks, dances, and acrobatics. Their acts require a combination of balance, coordination, and skill, and they often use their height to create a striking visual spectacle that captivates audiences.

Circus Performer Characteristics
Circus performers come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of personalities, but there are some characteristics that can be helpful for success in this field. Here are some traits that may be beneficial for someone pursuing a career as a circus performer:

  • Physical fitness and agility: Circus performers need to have excellent physical fitness and agility to perform their acts safely and effectively.
  • Creativity and artistry: Circus performers often need to be creative and artistic, developing unique acts that showcase their talents and engage audiences.
  • Confidence and stage presence: Circus performers need to be confident and comfortable performing in front of live audiences. They must have strong stage presence and the ability to connect with their audience.
  • Adaptability and resilience: Circus performers need to be adaptable to different environments and audiences. They may need to travel frequently and perform in challenging or unpredictable conditions.
  • Passion and dedication: Becoming a circus performer requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice. Circus performers often have a deep passion for their art and are willing to put in the necessary effort to achieve their goals.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Many circus performers work as part of a team or troupe, so they need to be able to work well with others, take direction, and collaborate to create successful performances.
  • Risk management and safety: Circus performers must also be conscious of safety and risk management, as many circus acts involve a high degree of physical risk. They need to be able to follow safety guidelines and take precautions to prevent injuries.

How to Choose a Circus Performer Career
Choosing a circus performer career can be an exciting but challenging process, as there are many different types of circus acts to consider. Here are some steps to help you choose:

  • Identify your interests and strengths: Start by identifying the areas that interest you the most, and where you have natural talent and ability. Think about what kind of circus performance you enjoy watching and what type of performer you would like to be.
  • Research different circus performer careers: Once you have identified your interests and strengths, research the different types of circus performer careers available. This can include acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, juggling, tightrope walking, and animal training, among others. Learn more about what each career entails, the skills required, and the risks involved.
  • Consider your physical abilities and limitations: Circus performer careers require a high degree of physical fitness, strength, and flexibility. Consider your own physical abilities and limitations, and choose a career that is suitable for your body type and fitness level.

Are you suited to be a circus performer?

Circus performers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if circus performer is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Circus Performer like?

The life of a circus performer can be varied and exciting, with lots of opportunities to perform and showcase their unique talents. Here are some examples of where circus performers might work:

  • Circus tent: Many circus performers work in a large tent, where they perform in front of live audiences. The tent may be set up in various locations, such as parking lots or fields, and performers may need to travel from place to place as the circus moves around.
  • Theater: Some circus performers work in theaters, where they perform in front of audiences in a more controlled environment. This can include traditional theaters or performing arts centers.
  • Theme park: Some circus performers work in theme parks, where they may perform in parades or on stages as part of a larger entertainment production.
  • Corporate events and private parties: Some circus performers are hired to perform at corporate events or private parties, such as weddings or other celebrations. These performances may take place in rented spaces or at the client's home or workplace.

Regardless of the specific workplace, circus performers typically need to be adaptable and able to work in a variety of environments. They may need to perform outdoors in different weather conditions, work in small or large spaces, or adapt their routines to different audiences. They also need to be comfortable interacting with people from all backgrounds and ages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Circus Performers are also known as:
Circus Entertainer