Dazzling Dances at the Circus Extreme

In a large open park, I’m standing in a queue. The wind is strong and the autumn cold is bone-chilling, there is a slight fog settled on the ground disturbed by the growing crowd. In front of us standing, in all its glory, is UK’s largest circus bigtop — home to the travelling circus, Circus Extreme.

The smell of popcorn, candy floss, and peanuts waft through the air, children all around me absolutely buzzing with anticipation. Circus Extreme is currently set up in Ealing, where it will stay till the 31st of October. The talented entourage of the acrobats, trapeze artists, stuntmen, dancers and of course clowns, have designed and worked on this two-hour act for five years. The crowd is slowly ushered in, bright strobe lights lit up at the entrance, the excitement is palpable. This intro is nicely done — evocative and informative

After a long year of isolation and lockdowns due to COVID-19, the world and its many events are finally opening up. “My son was born during the lockdown, this will be the first time he’s seeing such a large gathering of people in real life”, says Sam as he props his son, Xavier, on his shoulders. The circus has always been an event for the whole family, where a community comes together to celebrate the artistic, vibrant and astonishing nature of the show. As the world returns to a new normal, people have a rejuvenated thirst for live events, seeking all they missed out on during the height of the pandemic.

The crowd finally moves into the circus tent, we are greeted by the organisers, dancing laser lights, and lingering vapour from a smoke machine. The first act starts in five minutes, I grab a tub of popcorn and a stack of pink cotton candy. With sticky, sweet fingers and my phone camera ready, I wait for the magic to begin.

Our circus master, Henry the Prince of Clowns kicks off the show with a lyrical performance, building up the intensity. The first act comes in the form of a long steel contraption, which the circus master deems as ‘The Double Wheel of Death’. Both wheels on the contraption hold an acrobat, who elegantly run in place to propel the wheels into motion. Once the wheel picked up the pace, the acrobats performed aerial stunts awing the audience. Later in the show, the legendary British acrobat, Laura Miller comes in with a troupe of dancers. Her speciality is the aquatic aerial ring, an electrifying act that defies gravity and all concepts of nature. Miller’s routine makes use of cinematic music and neon coloured laser lights to fill the arena with gasps. At the conclusion of the act, Miller stirs up screams of fear by jumping into a pool of fire from 12 feet high.

Leaving the tent after each act had been appropriately applauded, my brain began to swirl in a daze as each act played vividly behind my eyelids. Looking around I spotted a gaggle of children rushing to meet the circus master up close and in person. The children, having seen and experienced, a show live for the very first time have a glow about them. This performance brought me back to when I was a starry-eyed kid reenacting the other-worldly performances I had seen, and I left with a feeling of nostalgia and a fresh smile on my face.




Just an MA student trying to write

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