Circus performance virginity

October 2014

Dress rehearsal on the sky ladder

Rehearsal on the sky ladder (yes I’m hanging by my feet)

Hey there,

Officially survived my first circus performance! What an experience. Two weeks before the performance date the company owners asked me if I could learn a routine on the Sky Ladder. My first response was “yes, absolutely!” My second response, after the wave of over-eagerness left was, “what’s the sky ladder?” The sky ladder is essentially a type ladder hanging 35-feet in the air. The 8 rungs of the ladder are 4-feet long each, 3-feet apart, every other rung is turned 90 degrees and they are all held together at the ends by wire cables. The structure swings and sways like s ship at sea when you climb on it unless someone is holding the bottom rung and anchors themselves to the ground. Fun right?

Some of the bruises I have had for 3 weeks (I can't show them all...)

Some of the bruises I have had for 3 weeks (I can’t show them all…)

Needless to say it was quite the adrenaline rush and my gymnastics training served me very well for this particular apparatus. I had to learn the routine in a very short period of time. The prep was painful, both physically and psychologically. My body was bruised from head to toe from the repeated bar bashing. My shins looked like an angry chihauhua used my tibia as a chew toy. Tension was thick as the organizers worked out the last few details the day before and us performers tried to polish as much of the ever-changing routine as we could.

We showed up at the venue 7-hours before our performance was to take place. We double-checked our costumes and props, ‘blocked’ the whole thing (walked through the transitions between the various acts), and breezed through a final rehearsal. I got quite the shock when our organizers told me that I would need to wear this metal mask thing and be a part of the ambient ‘filler’ before and after my act. This was not something that I signed on for. Dangling 35 feet in the air, sure. Taking on the essence of a mystical seahorse between acts and through the crowd, not so much. But I bobbed and swayed my little aquatic mare butt all over the place with a happy but dazed look on my face.


Then came time for me to walk out to the sky ladder to begin my routine. I had envisioned myself tripping over the smallest of obstacles on the way out, or getting to my position and forgetting every move in the whole routine. Terrifying thought. But as the music started I was transported to another place. I was so focused and so engaged in the performance that I wanted it to last much longer than 7 minutes. The high which performers get after something like this last for hours and hours. It kept a smile on my face for days. I definitely need to do more of these. The catered food and celebratory wine for the cast didn’t hurt the experience either. So with my circus performance cherry popped, I will heal my bruises and learn a new routine, hopefully in time for Christmas party season.

Athlete Inspired


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