20 June 2018

A month ago I ran away to join the circus… In reality, I guess it was more like taking a circus sabbatical. I left my work and family in Canada and flew to France to spend a focused week training and creating with 4 other artists in the village of St. Geniez d’Olt. There was even a performance at the end. It was an incredible experience.

For the past year or so I’ve been mentally struggling with the purpose of my training. Am I doing this for exercise with the occasional student show or do I want something more from it – and if so, what?

Many at this stage of their training will start to transition to teaching and/or applying to circus schools to take it to the next level. Ecole Nationale du Cirque in Montreal is generally considered the very best, but there are also respected professional development programs at Aloft in Chicago, NECCA in Vermont and even a few small DIY ones here in Toronto. For me, however, neither of those really work. Teaching isn’t on my radar – I already had the experience of teaching gymnastics and trampoline back in the 1990s, and would prefer to stick with my engineering job for money. Pursuing circus at a professional level is out for multiple reasons. In addition to being 46 years old (ancient!), I have a family and career that restrict my schedule and where I live.

I’ve realized that I want to level up while also staying close to home and am now exploring what that could look like. My circus retreat did a lot to help clarify what the could be and helped me find a way to combine my engineering strengths with my circus skills that I’m pretty excited about. The work we did during our week in France was the first phase. We made an aerial machine!


About Renee

Fiftysomething biomechanical engineer, parent, partner, and recreational acrobat.
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