25 Nov 2016

A year in the life of a Circus Performer



My name is Gina Morales, I’m going to start with pointing out that this is my first blog, so I think I should give you some background before telling you about my year;

My parents met while touring on a three ring circus in Mexico - My mother, a dancer from the UK and father a Mexican flying trapeze artist. After marrying they moved to England where they continued touring with various shows and introduced their three children, Rosalia, Jaqueline and myself to the exciting world of Circus.

I started performing full time after completing my A levels and now Jacqueline and I perform a Rolling Globe act which we began training for in 2005 during school holidays and have now been able to tour with this skill across the UK.

When travelling full time the years blend into one. There is no exact start or finish to the cycle its constant moving, training, performing, build-ups, pull downs and before you know it you’re onto another year!

Now, this year has been a different story. Don’t get me wrong, every year is a mix of emotions; exciting, exhausting and extremely enjoyable but this year I have been able to work abroad for the first time and not just a two hour flight to France or Spain (although both of these are also on my list!). This year I took a whole 15 hour trip to Hong Kong to perform as part of The Royalles British Thrill Circus in the TungWah Charity Carnival for four months. What an incredible experience this was! Spending Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, Easter and so many other celebrations in a whole new environment with different traditions, customs, food etc,  all while performing up to four shows a day… it truly was an incredible experience!



Now some of you may be thinking; “does she ever see her family?” well I can assure you the answer is yes… my dad actually tours with us! After moving to the UK he swapped the trapeze for a red nose and large shoes and became the circus clown (that’s a whole other story). Although my mum is based at home in Essex and my youngest sister studying in London, they will definitely come to stay with us at any given opportunity –especially during our Hong Kong adventure.
I came back to the UK late March and would start the next tour in April so it was lovely to have a couple of rest weeks enjoying family time, catching up with school friends and preparing for the next adventure but saying this, Circus artists - in my experience, aren’t used to much time off, so after the first three or four days I was already itching to get back to work!

Well before too long it was time to pack the bags and head off onto the next tour. This time I stayed in the UK and toured for my second year with Circus Starr, a non-profit organisation that moves to a different town every two days. Now this is serious touring… this is arriving at a new town, building up the big top, training in the evening of day one then performing two shows and taking down the tent ready to move again by day two. Sound like a lot of work? Well, it is. The time working goes by ridiculously fast and with a company that feels like family it’s impossible not to love.




I realise I keep mentioning training without explaining what exactly it involves. It’s a bit of everything from general fitness workouts and improving current skills as well as learning new ones. For example, at the moment I am working on a low wire act so practising this takes up most of my morning and before I know it it’s time to get ready for the show!

So being a circus performer doesn’t just involve a bit of a parade, your 5 minute act then a quick goodbye finale. There is much more to it than many would believe. An excellent example of this would be my October half term job with Gandey's Circus at Merry Hill in Birmingham.
Of course rehearsals take place prior to any opening of a new show and this was no exception, what with dancers, incredible lighting and sound plus lots of performers it was a huge team and lots to arrange before opening. Some of you may know being part of a team means being a team player…what you may not know is for a circus performer it means being a storm trooper one minute you're dressed as some form of mascot the next then back to glitter and glam for your act, this is all while making sure you have enough popcorn and souvenirs ready for the intermission of a sold out show. It’s this type of manic chaos and rather unpredictable day to day challenge that I enjoy.



When touring with a Circus, working over Christmas is always an option. However, with my winter tour on Circus Starr having finished in mid-November and my next contract starting in January, this year I’ve decided to go on a family vacation because, as you may have gathered, it’s been a busy year.