Hello! My name is Maria. I’m 16 years old, I’m from New York, and I am a professional circus artist. I’ve been training Mongolian style contortion and hand balancing for two years and I have been performing professionally for one year. Currently I am in Texas training, performing, and coaching with a contemporary circus arts company. I will be staying for three months overall from the beginning of July to the end of September. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and I’m happy to tell you about it!
Every day we either have a group training or conditioning. The whole company trains together three to four times a week. We train for 2-3 hours each day but depending on if there is a show or event coming up the hours can increase and decrease. When we are together we work on perfecting and creating acts, theater, and acrobatics. Then we branch off and work on things separately. I have been working on hand to hand, hand balancing, contortion, and creating a new act. Then the whole company conditions together. My favorite things to work on are contortion and hand balancing! We have a lot of fun while also training hard!
We also coach and teach other people that are not in the company but are looking to improve their circus arts skills. We coach at least two classes a week, plus private lessons. I love to coach but I am still new to it and I am working on becoming a better coach. My favorite part of coaching is when a student achieves a skill they’ve been working on. It feels great to know that you’ve helped them achieve it! The hardest part about coaching for me is trying to keep each lesson as difficult as the last and figuring out which moves to teach a student. Each lesson I try to work on this to become a better coach so I can help every student the best that I can!
Then of course we have performances and gigs! I love performing and we have so much fun on stage entertaining everyone and giving each performance all we’ve got! We normally arrive at the gig 2-3 hours early to get in costume, do our makeup, and warm up. I love doing my stage makeup because you get to become a new character! I try to warm up as much as I possibly can before going on stage so I know I’ll be able to perform the act the best that I can. I normally wear a lot of layers to keep myself warm while doing my hair and makeup so stretching will be easier and quicker. The other artists help me to warm up sometimes because I do high flexibility demanding moves such as the triple fold! Once its time to get in costume, I use tape to make sure that nothing will move or fall off during my act. Then I usually warm up more and walk through my act before going on stage. Performing is the funnest part for me! I love to be on stage with the other artists! Once the show is over I roll my back out with a back roller so it won’t hurt or tighten up and ask the directors what I can work on to make the next performance even better!
The trip so far has been amazing and I’m excited to see what we’ll do in the next two months! I miss my family and friends a lot, but being able to train and perform with an amazing group of artists makes it all worth it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences as a circus artist as much as I enjoyed writing it!
photo: Justin Reid Photography