Upstart circus school won’t stop Big Tops thriving
Traditional circuses are going from strength to strength
Bending over backwards to entertain: female contortionists perform outside a Zippos Circus Big Top Photo: © Simon Price / Alamy
(Letters to the Telegraph)
23 Mar 2014
SIR – As the founder and director of Zippos Circus and its associated school, the Academy of Circus Arts, I was delighted to read Dea Birkett’s article (News Review, March 16) supporting traditional circus in the face of the launch of the National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA).
While I welcome any initiative that raises the profile of circus arts or brings in new audiences, it is important to put the NCCA into perspective as a training organisation which largely supports theatre and nouveau cirque. Yet it would seem to have appointed itself rather arrogantly as the ambassador for Britain’s entire circus industry.
There is actually another whole world of circus out there. “Big Top” circuses are thriving, with up to 40 tenting shows performing at some point each year around Britain. They are socially inclusive and culturally diverse, playing to huge audiences across the country, often for less than the price of a cinema ticket.
Furthermore, our academy is the only travelling tenting circus school in the world and prepares students for the reality of life in the ring, as opposed to a career in theatre or opera. When I want fresh talent I’ll be looking for highly skilled artists who also know how to rig their own equipment and hammer in a tent stake (and possibly even make candyfloss). I won’t be running to the NCCA’s door for a student with a BA.
The NCCA will never threaten the real magic of the Big Top – the show will most definitely go on.