Blood, sweat and sequins: run away with the circus this exam term!
Emma Wright reflects on her experiences of circus performance and gives an insight into the magical world of the Cambridge circus scene
Circus: making your life a little topsy-turvy
by Emma Wright
Sunday 18th May 2014
Things have changed quite a lot since the days of traditional big top circuses in muddy fields surrounded by caravans.
Whilst travelling circuses still exist across the world and in the UK (though mercifully without the animal cruelty these days), you’re more likely to find a trapeze in a theatre than in a field. In the past 50 years or so, there has been an increase in contemporary circus across the world, usually mixing circus skills with physical theatre. Events like CircusFest in the Roundhouse, or the London Wonderground in the Southbank draw ever bigger crowds year on year. Circus schools now offer degrees in various skills and the National Centre of Circus Arts (formerly known as Circus Space) has just been given official recognition as the first pure circus skills degree available for students.
Circus is a large and varied beast. In aerial dance alone the apparatus includes trapezes, silks, aerial hoops, ropes, and cloud swings before getting to the more unusual items such as aerial cubes, nets or chains. Ground-based acts can cover anything from juggling (balls, rings, clubs), staff, hula hoop, poi, stilts, unicycling, balance (tightwire, slackline or slackrope) or rola bola. Then there are non-apparatus based skills such as tumbling, contortion or handbalancing. And this hasn’t even touched on the more obscure such as Russian Swing or Wheel of Death. The list goes on and on. But that’s the beauty of circus. There is no limit.
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