Find Your Own Way
Circus is so different from other occupations in its lack of any real structure. I have seen phenomenally powerful acts that were a single skill for 3 minutes, and I have seen someone capture an audience for an hr long one-man show. All this freedom can be overwhelming: what do I want to create? There is so much space, it can be stressful to try and fill. So here are a few little “rules” I have been told: an act is 4-6 min, you have your most difficult tricks at the end, you perform to music, you wear spandex. However it is supremely important to remember that Circus is an art form, and if we know anything about art, it’s that it gets better when it can catch an observer off guard.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anything can be circus and circus can be anything. If it can somehow convince a group of people to stay and watch, then it works for me. What is Circus? When does something move from Circus to Theatre, or from Circus into Dance? Now that is a question that could hijack a blog post so I’m just gonna leave it there untouched J. The point I am circumnavigating is you have to make it your own. Just like anything, there is benefit from structure; it gives you a place to start, and often the “rules” are there for reasons. I don’t really care how talented you are, it will be neigh impossible to keep me in the seats for an hr long one-man single skill act. But that doesn’t mean someone couldn’t do it. I dare you to try! Just like any art form, Circus is no different; you have to learn the rules before you can break them. Pablo Picasso had been painting for over 10 years before he began his “Blue Period”. True innovation rarely comes from ignorance.
I love watching other performers work and I too will fall into the occasional act envy, but the greatest thing about circus is that is comes from you. At the end of the day, it’s you onstage, working and asking for an audience of people to trust and come with you on your journey. There are acts I love, there are acts I loathe, there are acts I study; but if I’m doing anything right, there are none that are just like mine and I think that’s probably for the best. It’s the strongest choice you can make. Just like in life, if you try to be someone else it’s just not going to work. Best case scenario, you end up successful and unsatisfied. Worst case, you look like an imposter and you are unsatisfied. Find what you love, find what moves you, and most important, find yourself and put that in your work. You are the best resource you’ve got.