Handstands may sound like a ridiculously niche skill but they are actually a staple of many circus disciplines. My handbalancing journey started through breakdancing. Aged 16, when I was living in Edinburgh, I took advantage of the amazing Edinburgh Fringe programme to catch a few circus shows. I loved what I saw! I auditioned for the National Centre of Circus Arts in London and was accepted.
In simple terms, handbalancing is the art of being upside down with all your body weight balanced on the hands. Originally handbalancers would perform with a curved back (a banana) which meant that they were using their strength to control the balance. When the circus arrived in towns, artists would march through the streets to offer a taster of the show and lots of the acrobats would walk on their hands. Audiences wanted to be amazed by acts of awe-defying strength and the seemingly impossible. Handstands were the obvious way to dazzle and the acrobats started performing headstands, shoulder stands and handstands on the back of a horse, on the head of a tight wire artist or on the hands of a strong man.
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