Winter Circus

Juniper Circus photo Carnival 2

Juniper on stilts during Winter Circus (Photo credit Caitlin Jefko)

I annually perform in several small circus shows that we call Winter Circuses. They generally fall in early to mid February, and draw around over a thousand people total. Our stage is a community center gym that we transform with dark red curtains and stage lights. We start working on our acts in mid October, so that they are polished by showtime. Each year we have a theme that we build the entire show around. This year’s theme was Carnival. Carnival is a festival holiday that’s mainly celebrated in South America, and some parts of Europe. Coincidentally, this year it started on February 5, only one day before our opening night! Carnival is a really great theme for a circus show because it is traditionally celebrated by parading through the streets in brightly colored costumes and masks, and often features street performance acts, such as stilt dancing and acrobatics.

This year I performed in three acts, stilt dancing, lyra, and dance trapeze. I enjoy performing in more than one act because you get to experience different styles of performance. The stilt act I was in had fairly simple choreography, and left some room for improvisation on stage. Trapeze was a very graceful and dignified act, with a lot of dance incorporated. The lyra piece was probably the most challenging piece I was in. Our choreographer really enjoyed giving us new and difficult skills to work on for the show. Our fast paced choreography and neon orange and pink costumes created a joyful and fiery feeling for the piece. Other acts in the show included various types of juggling, silks, stilt acrobatics, and several clown acts.

We perform three shows over the course of a weekend, two on Saturday and a third on Sunday. It was a truly exhausting two days. If you’ve ever been part of a show you know that performing is hard work. You have to make sure you have all your props, get your costume and makeup on just how you want them, and still have enough energy to perform. You might even have to eat at irregular times and sleep any chance you get with your busy schedule. Although performing is hard work, it is also really fun work. Going out in front of a cheering audience and doing your best is one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Backstage, you spend a lot of time having fun with your friends, and you get to know the other people in your circus really well. Much like a high level sports team, the more often a circus performs together, the more camaraderie and community that exists between performers.

I have had so many wonderful times performing with my circus. I would like to encourage all circus people to take advantage of any performing opportunities that come your way. Being on stage may seem scary, but chances are that once you get into it you’ll end up having a lot of fun. Performing is a great way to gain stage presence and get better at whatever skill you love. Start small and work your way up. Who knows where performing could take you?

~ Juniper ✮

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