This page is designed to help youth who want to become circus performers to figure out their next steps.

For a basic, amusing introduction to working in a circus, try this video.

For a comprehensive list of circus training opportunities in Europe and around the world, check out this publication by FEDEC (European Circus School Association)

Arguably the top place to train in North America is Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, Canada. Visit their website for more information about professional training.  The deadline to apply for auditions for their Become a circus Artist program is typically mid-January.

Check out personal advice from youth circus leaders:

Tips from Meg Elias-Emery, Director of Xelias Aerial Arts:

1.) Think about learning everything possible about your art and then DO IT.
2.)Versatility is key -be well rounded not only in the air but on the ground. (e.g. aerialists should learn many acts.)
3.) Juggle
4.) Dance – creative movement, modern, jazz, ballet, African.
5.) Character work – acting, mime
6.) Gymnastics , especially tumbling

Learning from many points of view is great – take classes from many teachers.

You will always be type-casted. You will always be judged and you need to be able to take rejection – or this business is Not for you.

Producers look for:

  • Creativity
  • Attitude
  • Collaboration
  • The spirit of ensemble
  • Skills – well rounded
  • Two acts minimum – need a strong start and strong finish.
  • NO Divas
  • Promo material: DVD – The 1st 90 seconds must be captivating, no longer then 3 minutes.
  • Resume with a picture head shot
  • Bio – short and personable.

Other tips:

Take a class in video editing while still in high school.

I highly recommend auditioning for The Big Top Tour of Circus Smirkus. The audition process alone is invaluable along with the staff being nurturing!

Tips from Kevin O’Keefe, Founder and Director of Circus Minimus, co-founder of CircusYoga and the American Youth Circus Organization:

The art of holding questions is one of the touchstones of my practice as an artist. If these questions don’t resonate for you find some or one that does:

  • Why does Circus need you?
  • What skills, unique perspective or point of view will you bring to circus?
  • Who are your circus heroes? Why?
  • What kind of literature, music or art do you like? Can you imagine any of this material in acts?
  • When you hear the word vision what do you think of?
  • What themes would you most like to explore in circus?
  • You are onstage, everyone that is important to you is in the audience, you can say only one sentence, phrase or question. What do you want to say to them as an artist?
  • What do you want to give as a teacher?
  • What is circus?
  • What do you need in order to become the teacher/artist you want to be?
  • Is there any connection between something else that you are passionate about (i.e. violin, hopscotch, basket weaving,) and circus?
  • Up until now how has circus changed your life?
  • If circus were a person what would you say to her?