Occupational hazards: Clara Belle - street performer
"Paul works with a fire wheel which I've tried – so I've had a few scalds alright."
Pictured at the launch of The Savoy in Cork were firebreather Edelle Notte,Clara Belle , stilt walker and hostess Cara Spillane.
By TANYA SWEENEY
15 MARCH 2014
DUBLIN,IRELAND---I was definitely one of those children who wanted to run away with the circus as a kid. I'd always been into pantomime and that kind of thing. A friend got me into fire performance years ago, and the second that I tried it I was hooked. I met my partner Paul [Staniforth] through that. When we set up Wobbly Circus I tried stilt walking because I figured it would be fun, and a colourful stilt walker is always handy and in demand for town festivals.
It wasn't easy when we started the company. Paul did lots of jobs he wasn't happy in. At the time there wasn't much street entertainment going on in Ireland, and Paul was thinking, 'there has to be more to life than working for other people and not being happy'.
Starting out in fire performance, you learn your tricks without the actual fire. I whacked myself in the face with the poi (the instrument that is used during the performance) a couple of times when I was learning. You have a couple of mishaps in the beginning: Paul works with a fire wheel (with wicks attached to the wheel spokes). I've tried it – it's very fast and out of control, so I've had a few scalds alright.
Touch wood, I've never come down off the stilts. I did the St Patrick's Day in Bantry one year and the wind and rain were crazy. I was wearing a big-hooped dress so it was quite an initiation. I remember thinking, 'if I can get through this, I can get through anything'. On the stilts, a few people joke about and pretend they're going to pull you down, but fortunately people are much kinder than that. Kids love a stilt-walker, but there's an older generation – people in their 60s and 70s – that are really enthralled by it, possibly because they've had homemade stilts as kids.
read more: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/occupational-hazards-clara-belle-street-performer-30087282.html