10 questions with an aerial instructor and circus performer!

Do you find yourself wanting to run away and join the circus?

Do you ever end up having several career crisis’ a day, wishing there was some kind of insight into the world of non-traditional, non-office based jobs?

Me too. Which is why Messy has chosen to find a bunch of people doing cool, eye catching jobs- and interview them!

Samara Casewell from Cicada Circus Arts is a Sheffield based aerial performer and instructor who ran away to join the circus after graduating university over thirteen years ago.

Messy sat down to ask what it’s like running a business where the working day consists of hanging upside down in incredibly tricky poses.

How did you get into it?

I started out taking recreational classes for about a year. There used to be a 3 month course that helped you put together a circus act and taught you how to train at a professional level. After that, I joined a small travelling circus for the summer then came back to Sheffield and have been working freelance teaching and performing since then.

How many years have you been working in this job?

I’ve been working as a circus performer and teacher since 2011. I started my own teaching (Cicada Circus Arts) in 2018.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the field?

As a circus teacher, enjoy trying to understand how to break down moves and getting others to try it. There are some training qualifications you can get that will help. Shadow a teacher and see how they teach and structure classes. Contact studios and offer your services

As a performer, get to a good standard and invest in good promotional material (videos, photos, website). Some people got to circus school to skill up and get into circus networks. Apply for opportunities, network, promote yourself online, in person and by email to companies and get experience performing live. Go to circus conventions and workshops to meet people.

There’s not really any one way to have a circus career. It’s part luck and part determination.

What’s the best part of it?

Being able to be physically active and work with all types of people. It’s great to be able to share something I’m passionate about with people.

What’s the worst part of it?

As I’m self-employed, it’s quite hard to disengage from work and set good work/life boundaries. I always feel I should be doing more. Some days either teaching or performing are really long and are sometimes in really cold venues.

Most memorable day/ event at work?

I have quite a few memorable days from big events, but I performed recently as part of the opening of the BBC’s Big Night of Musicals to an arena of 12,000 people and seeing that many people all respond as one united audience was incredible.

Have you always wanted to do it?

I didn’t even know it was possible to get into circus performance and teaching until I found classes. But once I did, I knew I had to try to make it work, otherwise I would regret it for the rest of my life

8. Tell us about your first day at work?

I don’t feel like I had a proper first day at work, but my first experience of being a professional performer was in touring circus and it was hard work. We had to build up the circus tent, which is exhausting, then perform the next day. The first week was intense, as we also did school workshops. I enjoyed the variety and challenge.

9. Worst mistake you’ve made on the job, and what did it teach you?

One of the worst mistakes I made was working and performing whilst seriously injured. I felt like I couldn’t take time off. I should have. It then took me longer to heal and I worked through pain for a long time. It taught me not to try and push through injury (which was what we were encouraged to do for years) and to rest and rehabilitate.

10. How fulfilled are you?

I’m generally fulfilled as I like being active and engaging with people, but would like to move towards some employment that is less precarious as being self-employed is always a lot of effort.

For more of our ’10 questions with’ series, see our Convo’s with Clever Clogs page.

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