This year marks 250 years since the start of modern circus. It was in 1768 that Philip Astley began his circus entertainment in Waterloo in London. To celebrate, this new feature series has circus performers at the top of their game explain a little about the history of their disciplines and how they came to them.
I was officially stumped and my long-suffering parents were doing their best to support my latest career swerve. I had tried a degree in Philosophy and Theology; I had tried managing bars and restaurants; I had tried making jewellery and looking after small children. I had no idea who I wanted to be. So I threw myself at the mercy of my aunt and superwoman Nell Gifford, the founder of Gifford’s Circus. I promised to do anything: wash the dishes, wash caravans, shovel horse dung. Anything.
By the end of the tour, I was so hooked and I applied for a place on the BTEC in Circus Arts at The National Centre for Circus Arts, formerly Circus Space, and, a year later, joined the degree course. It was here that I spied the inimitable Charlie Wheeller doing unbelievable things in a huge spinning metal ring.
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