Circus Performer jobs(Also known as Entertainer)
A circus performer develops and performs original acts showcasing great skill, humour and emotive depth for the general public. They may perform any one or a combination of the many circus skills such as juggling, aerial, acrobatic or balancing work. The word Circus comes from ancient Rome and describes an arena where mock battles, gladiatorial competitions, races and acrobatic displays took place. Performances of skill and dexterity were also popular in ancient China. Indeed, most civilisations have entertained strands of acrobatic performance. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the popularity of the western circus continued to grow with the inclusion of dangerous stunts, animals and freak shows. However, modern, or contemporary circus is noticeably free of these crude and dated elements, opting instead to fuse mime, dance and music with high calibre artistic performances. The continuing popularity of circus is underlined by the fact that the billionaire founder of the prolific Cirque De Soleil is one of the richest men in Canada. Circus performers may specialise or combine any of the skills below. The following list is not exhaustive.
- Acrobatic tumbling
- Aerials (cord lisse, rope, Chinese pole, static trapeze)
- Acro balance
- Object manipulation
- Tight or slack-rope walking
- Flying trapeze
SalaryCircus performers are often self-employed. Only the very best will get the chance to perform in a big name circus on a set wage. Performers may be paid per show or for a run of consecutive shows. Some circus performers take their act to the street where they take money directly from the public. A circus performer's earnings depend on the quality of the show, its length and his or her degree of fame.
- A relatively unknown circus performer may receive upwards of £50 for a 5 minute performance.
- A circus performer with a good reputation and unique show may earn upwards of £200 for a 10 minute show.
- A circus performer at the top of his profession working for Cirque de Soleil earns upwards of £500 per day. Solo performers earn in excess of £100,000 per year.
ResponsibilitiesA circus performer will undertake some of the following in a normal working day:
- Keeping existing skills and act polished
- Working on new abilities
- Maintenance of strength and flexibility
- Devising new performance choreography
- Working with directors and other performers
- Going to auditions and liaising with agents
- Performing in front of a live audience
QualificationsThe success of a circus performer will depend entirely on ability as proved in performance and audition. Qualifications are completely irrelevant; nevertheless the courses that lead to them grant a great deal of learning and practice time plus invaluable exposure to a wide variety of performers and skills. Some circus performers learn at adult classes in their free time. There are also several circus degree courses in the UK. You can study full or part-time courses at any of the following institutions:
SkillsA circus performer is a unique job and the following characteristics should be developed:
- Dedication to your goals
- Perseverance in the face of difficulty
- Patience to build skills gradually
- Physical fitness
- Manual dexterity
- An inquiring mind to discover new media of expression
Working ConditionsCircus performers work on a stage of some sort, be it a theatre, cruise ship, special event or small performance space in a bar or restaurant. The hours are generally evenings and weekends, often late at night. However, performance constitutes only a small fraction of a circus performer's working life. The bulk of the work is done behind the scenes, and consists of hours of daily practice in an environment equipped with the tools of their trade, be that complicated aerial rigging and crash mats or juggling balls alone. The profession overall is evenly split between the genders, with both men and women specialising in different areas. Traditionally more women than men specialise in trapeze and other aerial apparatus, while there are more men jugglers. As these arts and the understanding of them continue to grow, the gender split will continue to balance out.
ExperienceAny experience in performance will be helpful in learning how to prepare for and deal with public exposure. Important constituents of successful performance are stage presence, timing and self-control and these are skills developed by performing. However, constant and dedicated skills' practice improves self confidence which in turn feeds into performance skills. Auditions make for excellent performance practice. Enter each audition as if it were the most important performance of your life and you are likely to meet with greater success while always developing your performance ability.
EmployersMajor circuses, live shows, cruise ships and amusement parks hire circus performers. You can search for work in specialist publications like The Stage.
Career ProgressionCircus performers may go on to be teachers or directors, working with other circus performers to help them improve. Generally speaking, throughout their career circus performers will develop new skills thereby opening up their chances of employment. Constant personal development is one of the prerequisites for the job. Many professionals from other disciplines find their way into circus. Dancers, gymnasts, actors and high divers are notable examples. In this case existing skills are adapted to that particular circus environment.
Hugo Maciel da Silva Oliveira, aged 30, is a circus and theatre performer living and working in London.