How Do I Become a Circus Performer?

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  • Written By: K. Testa
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Despite a joke or offhand comment that someone might make about wanting to "run away and join the circus," doing so might not be as simple as it was in the past. Today there are some strict requirements for obtaining a position as a circus performer, especially with one of the better-known organizations. In addition to being in good health and excellent physical condition, it usually helps to have a background in gymnastics or dance in order to become a circus performer, such as an acrobat. In many areas, you can take circus classes or workshops, and then contact the organization with whom you want to work, submitting a resume and sometimes a professional portfolio, in order to apply for a job.

A formal academic education is not necessarily required to become a circus performer. Depending on the type of circus career you want, many positions might not require any schooling beyond high school. There are many professional programs and schools to investigate, however, dedicated solely to training someone to become a circus performer. Circus job opportunities can range from acrobats to clowns to magicians.


Specific circus jobs usually require a particular set of skills. Clowns have certain talents, for instance, most of which can be learned at a clown school. Community colleges and the theater departments of some schools also frequently offer clown training. In addition, there are other types of circus schools throughout the world, some of which even provide online training resources. The types of training and classes that they offer can vary, but most of them include acrobatics, juggling, trapeze work, and other skills related to circus performances.

To become a circus performer, you should contact the specific company or circus that interests you to find out about job availability, depending on whether you want to be a clown or other type of circus performer. Next, you usually send in your application, often supplemented with photos or videos of your performances. You might be asked about your motivations for wanting to become a circus performer. Someone who wants to become a circus clown might be asked to display certain physical characteristics; for instance, clowns often make a number of facial expressions to convey their emotions.

If you hope to become a circus performer, it also helps to be realistic about the job duties and not assume that it is all glamorous work. The job can be lonely and tiring when you are on the road and performing for weeks at a time. Daily duties often include mundane tasks like practicing routines and moving heavy equipment. At the same time, the performances can be fun, exciting, and physically challenging.


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