The Circus Comes To Town!

The Netherlands National Circus is currently in Leeds @ Woodhouse Moor until the 11th of March. JAM took a trip down on Sunday to check out the all human production.

The Big Top stands surrounded by clusters of caravans and portaloos , the vinyl white of the tent in direct contrast with the muddy grey car park and dreary Sunday morning. Inside huddled together are the acts, fleeces pulled over their sequinned leotards anxious to get ready for the first performance of the day. Despite the torrential rain The Netherlands National Circus draws a large crowd, parents sit in plastic seats with children in laps holding clouds of candyfloss and colourful fibre optics staring in wonder at lycra clad performers as they tumble through the air. It is a form of entertainment which has been around since the late 18th century and remains popular in modern times, gone are the questionable performing animals and ‘freak shows’ but the allure of watching live-stunts endures enhanced by the CGI laden action audiences are accustomed to. Although it is named  The Netherlands National Circus the acts are in fact from around the globe, I speak to a friendly Canadian woman named Colleen who is part of ‘The Flying Aces’, I watch in the show as she flies through the air on the trapeze, caught by the three Australians who make up the troupe. There is a familial character to the group, the circus has a rich history and has been passed down for over 50 years, this tradition is carried on by The Jackson family who have been performing their original unicycle act across Europe for three generations and Angelo the Portuguese clown who also has inherited his circus skills. The acts have all ‘ran away and joined the circus’ through different avenues Colleen first performing the trapeze at club med and Caroline a solo trapeze artist after training to become a Prima ballerina.  The show is full of awe inspiring gymnastics and it is clear that behind the showbiz layers of glitter and pan-stick are dedicated athletes.

Words: Emily Ayto

Images: Scott Salt

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