Is becoming a circus performer right for me?

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What do circus performers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are circus performers happy with their careers?
What are circus performers like?

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How to become a Circus Performer

Becoming a circus performer involves dedication, training, and a combination of artistic talent and physical skill. Here are some steps to consider if you're interested in pursuing a career as a circus performer:

  • Develop Your Skills: Circus performers specialize in a wide range of disciplines, including acrobatics, aerial arts, clowning, juggling, contortionism, tightrope walking, and more. Identify the specific skills and talents you possess or are interested in developing, and begin training and practicing regularly to refine your abilities.
  • Take Classes and Workshops: Look for circus schools, performing arts centers, or specialized training programs that offer classes, workshops, and intensives in your chosen discipline(s). These programs provide professional instruction, guidance, and feedback to help you develop your skills and prepare for a career as a circus performer.
  • Gain Performance Experience: Seek opportunities to perform in front of live audiences, whether it's through local talent shows, community events, street performances, or amateur showcases. Performing in front of an audience allows you to gain valuable experience, confidence, and feedback, and helps you build a portfolio or demo reel to showcase your talent to potential employers.
  • Audition for Circus Companies: Research circus companies, touring shows, and entertainment agencies in the US that hire circus performers, and attend auditions or submit audition materials to showcase your skills and talents. Be prepared to demonstrate your abilities, professionalism, and versatility during auditions, and highlight any special skills or acts that set you apart from other performers.
  • Network and Make Connections: Connect with other circus performers, directors, producers, and industry professionals through networking events, workshops, conventions, and social media platforms. Building relationships and connections within the circus community can lead to opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and future employment.
  • Stay Persistent and Flexible: The path to becoming a circus performer can be competitive and challenging, requiring perseverance, resilience, and adaptability. Stay committed to your goals, continue honing your skills, and be open to new opportunities and experiences that may arise along the way.

Circus Schools and Training Programs
Here are some of the best-known institutions that offer comprehensive training in circus arts:

  • Circus Center (San Francisco, California): Circus Center offers a variety of training programs for aspiring circus performers, including professional circus training, youth circus programs, and adult recreational classes. The center is known for its high-quality instruction in disciplines such as aerial arts, acrobatics, contortion, juggling, and clowning.
  • National Circus School (Montreal, Quebec, Canada - also has a program in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA): The National Circus School is one of the leading circus training institutions in North America, offering professional circus programs for aspiring performers. The school provides intensive training in various circus disciplines, including aerials, acrobatics, hand balancing, and clowning, and has produced many successful circus artists and performers.
  • New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) (Brattleboro, Vermont): NECCA offers professional training programs, recreational classes, and youth circus programs for students of all ages and skill levels. The center provides instruction in disciplines such as aerial arts, acrobatics, hand balancing, contortion, and clowning, and is known for its supportive and inclusive circus community.
  • Circus Harmony (St. Louis, Missouri): Circus Harmony is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting social change and youth empowerment through circus arts. The organization offers professional training programs, youth circus programs, and outreach initiatives that provide opportunities for underserved youth to learn circus skills and perform in the community.
  • Ecole Nationale de Cirque (ENC) - The National Circus School of Montreal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada): Although based in Canada, ENC is highly regarded for its rigorous professional training programs in circus arts. The school offers specialized training in disciplines such as aerials, acrobatics, hand balancing, contortion, and clowning, and has produced many successful circus performers who have gone on to work with renowned circus companies around the world.

Employment Opportunities
Employment opportunities for circus performers can vary depending on factors such as skill level, experience, specialization, and geographic location. Here are some potential employment opportunities for circus performers:

  • Circus Companies and Shows: Traditional circus companies, such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Cirque du Soleil, and smaller regional circuses, may hire circus performers for touring shows, resident productions, or special events. These companies often seek performers with specialized skills in disciplines such as acrobatics, aerial arts, clowning, juggling, contortion, and more.
  • Theme Parks and Amusement Parks: Theme parks and amusement parks often feature circus-themed attractions, entertainment, and shows that require skilled performers. Circus performers may find employment opportunities at theme parks as part of live entertainment shows, parades, street performances, or character roles that showcase their talents and skills.
  • Cruise Ships and Resorts: Cruise lines, resorts, and destination entertainment venues may hire circus performers to entertain guests with live shows, variety acts, and special events. Performers with skills in aerial arts, acrobatics, juggling, and other circus disciplines may find employment opportunities in the entertainment departments of cruise ships, resorts, and tourist destinations.
  • Corporate Events and Entertainment: Companies and event planners often hire circus performers to provide entertainment for corporate events, product launches, trade shows, and private parties. Circus performers may be booked for solo acts, group performances, or interactive entertainment that engages and entertains guests at corporate functions and special events.
  • Film, Television, and Theater Productions: Circus performers with acting and performance skills may find employment opportunities in film, television, and theater productions that require circus-themed or circus-inspired performances. Performers may audition for roles in movies, television shows, commercials, or theatrical productions that feature circus acts or characters.
  • Educational Programs and Outreach Initiatives: Circus performers may also find employment opportunities in educational programs, outreach initiatives, and community-based organizations that use circus arts as a tool for youth development, social change, and empowerment. These programs may offer employment opportunities as instructors, coaches, or mentors for youth circus programs, after-school programs, or community outreach initiatives.