How to Become a Circus Acrobat: Training and Career Roadmap

Jul 15, 2018

Learn how to become a circus acrobat. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career as a circus acrobat. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Circus Acrobat?

Acrobats entertain audiences, performing feats of balance, coordination, and agility. They might perform individually or in groups. While acrobatics is often associated with skills involving just the human body, circus acrobats sometimes perform aerial feats with props, like a static or flying trapeze, wire, aerial fabric, or rope. Other circus acrobats use ground props, such as hoops, balls, wheels, or Chinese poles.

Acrobats display extreme flexibility, strength, and grace, often choreographing their own routines to feature their particular skills and artistry. Travel is required, and a certain amount of physical danger exists, especially in the completion of aerial routines. Protective gear might be needed. Acrobatic skills are generally initiated through youth activities, such as dance, tumbling, or gymnastics, with advanced acrobatic skills learned through attendance at specialized training facilities.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required
Experience Varies, but all circus acrobats should have experience performing in front of audiences
Key Skills Flexibility, strength, balance, agility, stage presence, and artistry in addition to some technical skill, such as trapeze, wire walking, juggling, etc.
Salary (2015)* $17.64 hourly median wage for entertainers and performers

Sources: Circus job listings (October 2012), Circus training programs, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a Circus Acrobat

Step 1: Enroll in Gymnastics or a Similar Extracurricular Activity

There are many kinds of physical training programs that can aid youngsters in learning the acrobatic and performance skills needed to become a circus acrobat. These include gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading programs. There also are a handful of circus acrobatics programs that start children as young as 5 years old, as well as youth circuses where children ages 10-18 perform with touring circus professionals.

Step 2: Complete Postsecondary Training

Aspiring acrobats might choose to attend a formal circus school, which generally offers training for all ages, or they might join a circus club on a college campus. Those looking for something more intensive might consider earning a bachelor's degree in physical theater or a related movement/athletics field.

It is important to assemble a resume, including a demo video. An acrobat's resume might include where he or she trained, special acts performed, skill level, and stage experience. Photos of the face and body lines are important, as is a demo video, either with an online link or a DVD, to showcase artistic and stage abilities.

Step 3: Continue to Build Your Skills

Most acrobats start off at smaller circuses to build their skills and gain experience before auditioning for major acts. Gaining experience can also help acrobats in working with multiple partners or developing more advanced skills, such as the rolling globe, wheel gymnastics, or Chinese pole.

In summary, circus acrobats need experience performing in front of an audience and might have attended circus school. Strength, balance, flexibility, and technical skill are needed to work in this field.

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