circus performer

How to become circus performer

What does a circus performer do?

Circus performers entertain audiences with their skills in trapeze, tightrope, acrobatics, juggling, fire breathing and clowning.

They may be attached to a circus or use their skills in street theatre, festivals, corporate events and parties. Circuses can be traditional or contemporary as well as large scale touring companies or community-based. Some performers are part of physical theatre companies where their skills are valuable.

In touring circuses the work will involve travelling with the show from town to town, setting up their act, and maintaining equipment.

In addition to performing, all performers spend a number of hours rehearsing, perfecting skills and developing new acts.


What's the working environment like working as a circus performer?

Hours of work vary, with performances during the daytime and evening, at weekends and on public holidays. Performers may work part-time, just at weekends, or seasonally.

The work is physically demanding, with a lot of time spent travelling and rehearsing . It can be either indoors or outside, in a variety of different conditions. Traditionally performances take place in a tent/big top environment, but may also be in other locations such as arts venues, community settings, hotels or in the street and other outdoor areas. In some cases circus performers may be used for corporate events like Christmas parties. 

Some large circuses travel all over the world, smaller ones travel around the country or region. Solo performers and physical theatre companies may also travel, both nationally and internationally.


What does it take to become a circus performer?

To be a circus performer you should:

  • be skilled in your chosen performance area
  • be versatile and adaptable, willing to undertake a wide range of tasks
  • be physically fit, with high levels of energy and stamina
  • be disciplined and self-motivated
  • have high levels of concentration
  • be outgoing and self-confident
  • work well as part of a team
  • be constantly aware of health and safety issues, as the work can be dangerous
  • be hardworking and determined to succeed.


Circus performer career opportunities

Work may be short-term or seasonal, and performers will often be on the books of one or more specialised agencies. Details of some of these are on the Circus Arts Forum website.

Advancement usually comes in the form of increased bookings, earnings and success. Some performers become instructors or move into other areas of performing arts.


Further information

If you would like to know anything about Circus Performer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Circus Arts Forum
19 Great Guildford Street
Tel: 020 7401 8866

The Academy of Circus Arts
RG20 0LD
Tel: 07050 282624

Britannia Rd
BS15 8DB
Tel: 0117 947 7288

The Circus Space
Coronet St
N1 6HD
Tel: 020 7613 4141

Total Theatre Network
The Power Station
Coronet St
N1 6HD
Tel: 020 7729 7944

National Association of Youth Circuses
C/o Skylight Circus Arts
Broadwater Centre
Smith St
OL16 1HE
Tel: 01706 650676


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