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How to Join the Circus

So you really want to join the circus? Okay, here's what you need to do.


  • Step 1: Be realistic Know what you're getting into. You'll be working long hours, many holidays, and most weekends. And you'll spend a lot of time on the road.
  • Step 2: Check web sites Check the websites of the biggest circuses, like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, Cirque du Soleil, and the Big Apple Circus for job listings. You'll find ads for everything from rope skippers to tent riggers.
  • Step 3: Have a skill Have a skill that the circus needs. If you want to be a performer, you'll have to be exceptionally good at a circus act, like walking the tightrope or swinging from a trapeze.
  • TIP: It helps if you have a gimmick, like a unique acrobatic ability.
  • Step 4: Get training If you're short on skills, enroll in a circus school such as the San Francisco Circus Center or The Circus Space in London, which offers classes in tumbling, contortion, balancing, juggling, aerial work, and clowning.
  • Step 5: Consider alternatives If performing isn't your thing, but you still crave the excitement of being part of a traveling circus, consider applying for a nontheatrical position, like an animal-care attendant or wardrobe assistant.
  • Step 6: Apply Apply for a position, following the rules set by the circus on their web site. Performers must send a resume, headshots, and an audition tape.
  • TIP: Photos should clearly show your face and your body, as well as convey your personality (which hopefully is outgoing).
  • Step 7: Be patient Be patient. You may have to wait for a spot to open, no matter how good you are.
  • FACT: Some circus performers wear bracelets made of braided elephant hair for good luck.

You Will Need

  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Skill
  • Training (optional) (optional)
  • Headshot and body shot (optional) (optional)
  • Audition tape (optional) (optional)

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