Is getting a job with the troupe like joining a proper circus? "Not in the sense of a traditional circus family, where the skills are passed from one generation to the next," says the co-founder, general manager and co-producer of the show Ali Williams. A veteran of 15 years of knife-throwing and table diving, these days Williams gets her thrills from facilitating the performances of others. "The skills have obviously been learnt, but the performers have chosen this lifestyle, rather than being thrown into it because of their family."
What is life like for a contemporary circus performer? For Howard Morley, the tent manager and performer, it means driving a forklift truck, "generally mucking in" - and acting as a human counterweight. "It is my job to hoist the aerial acts up in the air," says Morley. "I am a human lump on the end of a rope." He also makes a big, vertical 10-metre headfirst drop from the centre of the tent to less than a metre off the ground. At the time of speaking, Morley is standing in a field in Cambridge with a harness attached to him, preparing for a preformance. "It requires trust," he says. "My friend Barnz is my brake. He stops me from smashing my head when I drop."
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