Celebrating Women in Circus: Ekpoawan Edem and Elena Suárez Pariente

Circus News

Celebrating Women in Circus: Ekpoawan Edem and Elena Suárez Pariente

Our celebration of Women’s History Month continues with two circus history makers in the making: Nigerian hoops artist Ekpoawan Edem and Spanish hair-hang artist Elena Sudrez Pariente. Answering our questions, the two weigh in on what it is to be a woman in the global circus industry— and how female performers can lift each other up.
The journey through circus can be a bit like walking on a highwire. In many parts of the world, female circus artists often make this walk without a safety net… but even so, they keep their eyes ahead and brave the obstacles along the way. Helping them find and keep their balance is their family and friends, and other women, there to catch them if they fall. On two different continents, Ekpoawan Edem and Elena Sudrez Pariente have both found their way across that highwire and helped others do it, too. Now they’re reflecting on how they got there, people who inspired them, and how women can help each other navigate the way across. Without further ado, let’s hear from them both. ...
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Em Holt

Em Holt (they/she/he) is a genderfluid mover, burlesque dancer, drag performer and acrobat based in Florida, US. With a background in high level competitive gymnastics, circus arts and multidisciplinary dance, their diverse capabilities allow them to meet a variety of physical requirements and personas on stage. These days, Em independently travels and tours the US as burlesque and circus bombshell, Karma Carnelian. Karma's performance style seamlessly blends classic and neo burlesque choreography with dynamic acrobatic chair and floor work. Karma has performed coast to coast, from the Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco, CA, to the House of Blues in Chicago, IL, to countless productions in their home state. Em received their BA in Advertising in 2019 and MS in Integrated Marketing in 2021 from Florida State University, where they also performed teeterboard, flying, swinging and double trapeze in The FSU Flying High Circus from 2016-2020. Em first joined CircusTalk first as a journalism intern in 2020, and currently serves as the team's Community Manager, creating written and digital content for the site, and managing the companies' social media channels.