Performing at Bindlestiff’s Cavalcade of Youth in Coney Island

We walked into the theater. The walls were covered with water stains, it was cold, worn out, and for some reason, there was a hot tub on the wall. But it was also amazing. It was a real theater, there were lights, curtains, and a backstage, it was an actual performance. It’s a chance that a lot of young performers don’t get, so that’s what the Cavalcade of Youth Performance does: it gives them that opportunity to be in a show.

This year I had the chance to perform a lyra solo that I had been working on for months. This was not my first time performing at the Cavalcade, but usually the rest of my youth troupe would be with me. A few of the other kids in my youth troupe decided to also do their own acts, so one of the coaches came for support. I started warming up but I only had 10 minutes until I had to run my act. I walked up to the stage and I realized the lyra was at least a foot higher than I had ever run my act with. But we didn’t have a choice, that was all the rigging we brought so the lyra could only get higher.

Learning to adapt and accept your surroundings is definitely one of the hardest struggles of performing. You have to come prepared and be in the mindset that things are going to go wrong and you can’t get hung up on it. Eventually I ran my act and it went surprisingly well. A few other performers went and what was interesting was all the tricks were so different. They were original. I’ve noticed that in a lot of shows with youth performers from the same schools, tricks can sometimes be repetitive or overused, but since everyone in this show was from different schools that wasn’t a problem.

As performers kept running their acts I started to talk with a few of them. I found out that people came from far and wide. One trapeze artist woke up at 4 in the morning and drove all the way down from Vermont!

Soon everyone crowded into the dressing room to start getting ready. It was cramped and cold but it was show time. One by one the performers went on stage, and all of a sudden the moment hit me: I was about to perform.

I walked on stage, the lights were bright, I couldn’t even see the audience. I walked over to where my act started, and just like that my music started and I was performing, and before I knew it, I was done.

For me there’s always a big buildup before my act where I get nervous and jumpy, but once I’m on stage nothing matters. I can just focus on me. No one is telling me what to do, or to point my toes. There’s no stopping the music to work on choreography, you just perform.

Overall I think The Cavalcade of Youth is an amazing opportunity for any young performer who wants to know what it’s like to perform, or even just meet new performers. It’s an amazing performance and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to continue exploring the circus world.

– Isabella

For more information about The Cavalcade of Youth, check out the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus website:

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