Courageous Conversations About Mental Health in Circus--Marginalized Bodies in Circus--Through the Lenses of Race, Size and Gender--PRO Exclusive - CircusTalk

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Courageous Conversations About Mental Health in Circus–Marginalized Bodies in Circus–Through the Lenses of Race, Size and Gender–PRO Exclusive

In this video series moderated by Janelle Peters, a Licensed Social Worker, they will discuss the importance of addressing mental health and setting up sustainable practices for well-being in the performing arts industry. With a variety of topics and guests from professional roles in circus, sports and performing arts around the world, the series explores the unique strengths and challenges experienced by circus professionals when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. We will explore the personal, professional, and structural elements that impact us, and continue the important conversations about how we care for ourselves and our communities. If you are a creative or work with them, this series will be a valuable tool and conversation starter for your team and colleagues in the industry.

In this third episode of Courageous Conversations About Mental Health in Circus, guests Alec, Ginger and Nina explore and discuss their experiences as circus artists in marginalized bodies. Within the panel, the three cover a variety of topics, from what marginalization looks like inside and outside the circus industry, how these experiences have impacted their mental health, and what actions they need from circus and circus professionals to create a safer space for themselves and artists like them.

Photograph of Janelle Peters, founder of Cirque Psych and host of this series
Janelle Peters (she/they) – LSW, Circus Artist, Founder of Cirque Psych, USA

Alec Stoddard (he/they) is an artist activist that intersects queer stories with aerial art. His work engages with concepts of liminal interrogation — looking not for more answers, but rather for more questions. As a gender non-conforming trans man, their art contemplates queer relationships to the corporeal form and the social forms projected upon it. His writing and speaking seeks to archive the process of uncovering the personal intersections of gender, body, and reality. On stage, aerial chains are an excellent vehicle for Alec’s current examination of body sovereignty in circus as a trans individual. They’re known for funky and fierce shapes in the air, and their work has been described as “wonderfully painful to watch.” Follow Alec on Instagram @alectheaerialist and learn more about them on their website!

Ginger Snaps (she/her), The Tastiest Tease in Texas, is an award-winning burlesque performer, aerialist, and producer from Austin, TX. She has been performing burlesque for almost 12 years and aerial for 8 of those. Voted Austin’s “Best Burlesque Performer” by the 2016 – 2021 Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll, she is renowned for her unique approach to burlesque and aerial performance infusions. Ginger has been seen on stages and screens across the world including on America’s Got Talent, Das Supertalent, performing at the illustrious Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender in Las Vegas, and numerous viral social media videos and articles. She is the Performance Manager for Sky Candy, the founder of Legislate THIS – a series of burlesque fundraiser shows for Planned Parenthood, as well as the founder of a series of professional development workshops for instructors on teaching plus-size aerial students. Additionally, Ginger teaches a series of classes at her home studio, Sky Candy, specifically for beginning plus-size aerial students and works to champion plus-size circus inclusion. She clearly doesn’t sleep a whole lot, but finds great enjoyment in cats, circus, glitter, fighting the patriarchy, and bizarre productions. Follow her shenanigans on various platforms at @gingersnapsburlesque and check out her website!

Nina Sawant (she/her) is a circus artist, choreographer, costume designer, and filmmaker in Oakland, California. She has been inspiring audiences for more than 16 years with her evocative performances and imaginative costumes. While earning a BA in Choreography from the University of South Florida, Nina performed in KaTonga, a Broadway-style musical at Busch Gardens Tampa. There she was introduced to circus arts by fellow cast mate Vitaliy Krymskyi. She went on to tour with Vitaliy and his family in Ukraine, and has since performed across the US and Europe. Nina is a founding member of The Dahlias, a woman of color led circus ensemble, and performs regularly with Vespertine Circus, Sweet Can Productions, Zaccho Dance Theater, and Misfit Cabaret. Keep up with Nina on Instagram @_ninauiu_ and visit her website!


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Janelle Peters

Janelle Peters (she/they) is a contortionist, aerialist, circus coach, and licensed therapist who specializes in working with dancers, athletes, artists and performers. Janelle creates materials online at @cirque_psych to help facilitate conversations about mental health, wellbeing, and systemic change in the circus world.