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Career Gymnastics: Circus & Stunting
Overview
Circus and stunting jobs are some of the few career opportunities involving continued use of the physical skills gained through gymnastics. Circus includes a multitude of different apparatus (too many to list here!) many of which have significant overlap with various gymnastics events. Stunt acting is the career of performing stunt work - getting filmed doing the dangerous things instead of actors in movies and tv shows.

Finding local opportunities
Stunting is really a subset of acting, and there are limited opportunities for minors in the field, but if you're really interested then opportunities can be found. A search for local stunt training centers (e.g. the LA Stunts Training Center) is a good place to start. This article gives some helpful tips regarding how to get into stunt acting.

Circus has activities and entry points spanning a larger age and ability range. The first steps for getting into circus arts depend on what level of gymnastics you've achieved:
  • Beginner gymnast:
    • At this level you'll want to take circus classes in the discipline(s) you're interested in. Availability of such classes varies widely by location, but a quick internet search should give you an idea of what's available in your area. There are also some circus summer camps, most notably Circus Smirkus in Vermont, that are a great way for a kid to try out circus and see if it's the right fit for them.
  • Intermediate gymnast:
    • At this level you could try to audition directly for a circus show, but it will be a long shot as they usually have their pick of elite level gymnasts. Therefore, this level would likely also go first into circus classes or camps, which can be found best through an internet search.
  • Advanced gymnast:
    • High level gymnasts (NCAA and Elite Track) are often actively recruited by renowned circus companies like Cirque du Soleil. You can visit Cirque's Artistic Gymnastics recruiting page here. Connecting with the circus community in your area through local practice spaces and communities is a great first step. Alternatively, those looking to add other disciplines to the acrobatic base they've gotten from gymnastics might consider attending a circus school program (e.g. ENC in Montreal, or the extensive list here).
What to expect from this pathway
For both circus and stunt acting, there is a significant performance aspect that isn't always present in gymnastics. Like any artistic pursuit, success isn't guaranteed, and competition can be fierce for high profile roles and companies. Stunt acting is generally concentrated on the west coast where most of the movie industry is located, but circuses travel all over. There are also a lot of circus opportunities abroad, especially in Europe, for those that are interested in traveling as part of their career.

Where to go next?
If you or your gymnast is itching to try stunting or circus, the first step is finding a way for them to try it out through a camp or class in your area. There's no centralized database for these opportunities, so you'll have to do the legwork yourself, but the opportunities are out there for those that are interested!

Finding local/creating opportunities
Some gymnastics facilities may offer introductory courses for circus arts. Contact your local club for more details. For higher level circus-focus opportunities, search your local area for available circus schools.