When one commits to the circus arts, it becomes more than a job — it’s a way of life. As an aerial acrobat, I spend countless hours in the studio developing strength and skill, producing multiple original productions a year with my circus collective, and teaching others how to fly using nothing but their own bodies. There’s no halfway when it comes to the art of being superhuman — you’re all in.
This commitment makes the circus arts what they are: unbelievable. People flock to the circus to participate in a sensory entertainment experience that defies logic and stokes the imagination. It’s an industry that thrives on spectacle and audience reaction — but what happens when the audience is gone, quarantined away due to a health crisis?
The circus arts, like many other performing arts industries, have faced economic and functional difficulties resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. And while it seems niche, modern circus is more prevalent in our culture than one might think. Cirque du Soleil is perhaps the most well known example, but the circus arts manifest in many different places in everyday life: bars and clubs, arts and music festivals, corporate events, and circus schools and studios across the country.
In the wake of COVID-19, venues have closed to protect the crowds that are their lifeblood and studios have emptied to protect their students. In late March, Cirque du Soleil temporarily laid off 95% of its workforce as it shuttered its shows around the world, and many other global productions have faced similar fates — Cambodia’s Phare Circus has suspended activity, as has the Montreal-based The 7 Fingers. The pressure is on: How does this historic art form adapt to this unprecedented challenge…?
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