"Certification" Versus "Experience" for Acrobatic & Circus Riggers

Circus News

“Certification” Versus “Experience” for Acrobatic & Circus Riggers

I often get asked if I am a “certified circus rigger”. This question typically comes from individuals and programs looking for small-scale rigging. When I say small scale, I am referring to individual performances, corporate events, one-off gigs, and aerial or circus schools/studios. I do my best to explain that what they are looking for is a “competent” or “experienced rigger”. By phrasing the question for a competent rigger, the asker is including experiences a rigger may have gained from on-the-job training or apprenticeships. Certifications give a rigger proof of continuing education in their field, and this is very important, but there are many lessons learned on the job site that cannot be learned through a course or test. The question changes from “Are you a certified rigger?”, to “Are you a competent acrobatic rigger with experience in rigging circus arts?”
Rigging inspection using a rope access technique called “aid climbing”. Photo credit: Rebecca Starr Understandably, there is a sense of safety and security that comes along with hiring someone certified to do their job. A doctor spends years in school, and auto mechanics lear...
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Ben Schiffer

Ben Schiffer began his journey into circus rigging as a Junior Rigger (apprentice) at the Circus Smirkus Summer Camp; he went on to do 6 tours with the Circus Smirkus Big Top tour, 3 as Head of Rigging. Ben has rigged multiple tours for Cirque Dreams, and numerous circus school, studios, and private events. Over the past 7 years Ben has spent his time rigging on Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, Corteo, and most recently as the Assistant Head of Rigging on Kurios: Cabinet of Kuriosities, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entertainment world.