I used to be a lifeguard and a swim coach. It was a pretty sweet job. I got to hang out at the pool all day, play with kids, swim, eat otter pops. It was good living. But my job was more than sunscreen and freestyle. It was keeping a watchful eye, recognizing dangerous situations, preventing incidents before they start, knowing what to do if it all went down and somebody was seriously in trouble.
Now I am a circus coach, a studio owner, and a performer. The job’s not all that different. Instead of swimming in water we are dancing in air. It’s fun, playful, and inherently dangerous. The risks can be mitigated, lessened, but never eliminated. Just like the dangers of swimming don’t keep you out of the water, the risks inherent in circus and aerial need not keep you from getting in the air. Just remember, the higher you go the more grounded you need to be. It’s important to educate yourself and keep yourself safe. In circus we don’t have lifeguards, but a good coach will act as one. I see too many coaches though that are unaware of their role as lifeguard or just don’t have the proper training to take it on. That’s why it is so important that as students you have a sense of how to protect yourself and how to make sure you are putting yourself in good hands. Your coach should be keeping you safe but ultimately your safety is your responsibility.
That’s why I’ve created this handy, easy to use check list to help student think critically about safety in circus.
That’s it for the checklist, I hope that it helps you to navigate your own safety in the circus world. I am proud of you for taking personal responsibility for your safety. Listen to your instincts, train with people you trust, recognize your human-ness and act accordingly. Have fun and enjoy the magic of circus. It is special and beautiful and worth doing. Stay safe and keep climbing!