The Circus entices us with the possibility of Reinvention, especially of reinventing and perfecting one’s body. Aerial and acrobatic acts, central to the circus experience, present us with bodies magnificently strong and controlled, performing feats ever more daring and gravity defying! Our empathy for the performers’ peril reflects, at the same time, our desire to inhabit those amazing bodies, and to achieve the performers’ transcendence.
As the art historian Naomi Ritter puts it, “The acrobat’s lofty perfection translates readily into a divine grace..the soaring aerialist embodies that image of freedom.” Acrobats and aerialists have inspired artists and writers to consider their own vulnerability to failure and to muster the courage that they perceive in circus performers.
~ Linda Simon, The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus