What It’s Like To Start Circus Late and Why It Shouldn’t Hold You Back

By Bronyn Mazlo


Have you ever wanted to try a sport or activity, then thought, “It’s too late. I should have started years ago”? It can be discouraging seeing your peers so advanced and talented. Unfortunately, this mentality causes many people to continue with what they are currently pursuing out of fear of trying something they are not sure they will succeed in.

When I first started circus, I was completely overwhelmed. I had very little dance background, and no gymnastics experience. I didn’t even know the disciplines of circus, only aerial silks and iconic skills like juggling and trapeze. I remember driving to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts thinking, “Bronyn, what have you gotten yourself into?” I was super nervous, thinking that I was going to be the worst in the class and that I had no idea what I was doing.

Three years later, I still have no idea what I am doing or how this one-time class suddenly became my life. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it, and it’s crazy to think what my life would be like if I didn’t have the courage to announce that I wanted to give aerial silks a try. Starting circus later than most of my peers has had its challenges such as not having a background in either martial arts or gymnastics. I hope my story is an encouragement to someone who is either dealing with the same situation or is contemplating trying a new activity.  

The first feeling I had when I started circus was being so far behind others. Even in a Level 1 Aerials class, I remember talking to some girls who had been in that class for 2 years. At the time, I remembered thinking, “wow, they know all these tricks and they’re younger than me. I don’t know anything yet, and I’m 13. I’m so behind.” It can be really frustrating learning basic skills and tricks while an 8 year old does a masterful drop on fabric in front of you. First you had to gather the courage to try circus, now you have to be discouraged by how skilled everyone is?

I believe it was this feeling that really made me push myself and build the drive and burning fire to keep proving myself. The tough part about starting something later than others is that it always feels like a constant game of catch up. But what I think is important is that it puts in perspective that there will always be someone who is younger, stronger, more flexible, or more talented than you. Even though striving to achieve goals and be the best you can be is important, letting go of perfection is the first step towards self love, which is a huge must-have in the world of entertainment, where rejection is more common than acceptance.

Starting circus later has also made me more of an advocate for myself. It can be hard to come in to a sport, decide you want to pursue it, and make that clear to coaches. It can be hard to make it clear that you are just as committed as someone who started 8 years before you. Even though this is frustrating, i have found that it really makes yourself your best supporter and cheerleader.

Trying a new activity can be nerve wracking. Trying a new activity as a teenager can be absolutely mortifying. However, if you shy away from an opportunity out of fear, you could be missing out on discovering a hobby or passion. Even if you end up not enjoying yourself, you still tried something new. Starting an activity late has also been very positive on my personality and attitude. I feel like I am more prone to trying new things, which I am hoping will stay with me in my future.

If you ever consider trying a new activity, no matter what your age, it’s really important not to shy away from interacting with others, no matter how tempting it may be. When I first started my natural instinct was to keep a low profile. But having confidence, even if you have no idea what you are doing, is both positive on your mentality and also makes you seem approachable to other people. Talking to other people, instead of staying in your own bubble, has really helped me meet people who have become my friends and helped guide me along my circus journey.

Circus is my life, which makes the idea of my life without circus foreign and strange. I am incredibly fortunate that my 13 year old self was willing to take a chance and try something new and unpredictable. I hope this article encourages somebody to take a leap into the unknown and unlock hidden possibilities. You never know what may come out of it!

One comment

  1. Rock on, Bronyn! I started when I was 28 and I have students now who are starting in their 50s and 60s. It is never too late and circus is for everyone!

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