Interview with Eira Gibson from The Circus Space

Have you ever wanted to run away with the circus? Are you always clowning around? Then you need to read our interview with Eira Gibson from The Circus Space an organisation dedicated to helping young people develop their circus skills.

What is your involvement in the development of the Circus and Circus skills?

I work at The Circus Space which is a leading centre for circus arts in the UK.  Here we have a degree course in circus arts, an artist and company development centre where professional circus artists train, classes for adults and an extensive youth circus programme for young people aged 11 – 18.

How long have you been working in or around the Circus business?

Personally I have worked here for 3 years, but have been working in the physical performing arts for 6 years and running classes with young people for about 10 years.

How popular is the Circus with young people?

Really popular!  Circus is cool as so many different things come under the umbrella – juggling, acrobatics, trapeze, wire walking all appeal to very different people.  Also, I think circus appeals to young people as a lot of circus skills are things that young people like doing anyway – throwing things, cart wheeling, back flipping, swinging and balancing are all skills that we see young people doing around and about.  Activities like ours mean that young people can take risks and push themselves further – and parents like it as we have lots of specialist safety gear!

How hard is it to break in to the Circus business?

As with any performance art, you have to work really hard and put in the time to achieve a career in circus.  In the same way as an athlete does, circus artists have to train every day to maintain their fitness and strength.  As well as this, live performance is always evolving, so circus artist have to keep coming up with new ideas and acts, so even if you do break in, you have to keep working really hard to stay in… but for those who are passionate about performing none of this matters.

What are the key attributes that you need to work in a Circus?

Depends what sort of circus you want to work with – as a general rule, I would say dedication, imagination and enjoyment of hard work are the most important attributes, but also some training is needed to ensure the safety of the activities.

How did Circus Space come about and what does the organisation teach?

The Circus Space came about in response to a need forLondon based circus artists to have a space to train.  It was the dedication of a core group of people which lead to the creation of The Circus Space.  Now we are an arts organisation supported by the arts council, running the UKs only degree in circus (affiliated to the conservatoire of dance and drama), a member of the European Federation of Circus Schools, and teaching circus at all levels.

What are the career prospects for someone that graduates from your degree course?

Graduates from the degree do pretty well on the jobs market.  Part of the course is focused on teaching them business planning and they perform as part of a showcase just before they graduate.  Many of them go on to work in existing circus companies or go on to create their own companies.  Others go on to work in the corporate market or subsidise their income by teaching circus to others.

Is it possible to make a living out of working in the Circus?

Yes – but I wouldn’t advise it as a profession if you want to make your millions!  The nature of the work means that you are in and out of employment, meaning that you do not have a steady income.  Some people do very well financially out of being a circus artist, but the reality is that these people are the exception – it is hard work, very competitive and with few guarantees.

What would you tell a young person that was interested in joining the Circus?

Whether you want to work professionally or just to show off to your friends, I would advise getting in touch with your local youth circus and start practicing!  If you need help locating your nearest company, give us a call here at Circus Space and we will try to help.