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News / City Life

Quit your job, become a... circus artist

Quit your job, become a... circus artist

Lil Rice, 26, circus performer and Cyr wheeler

How do you pronounce 'Cyr' wheel and what is it?

‘See-uh, like the singer Sia. It’s a big metal ring that you stand inside like the Vitruvian Man and you spin and flip around gyroscopically.’

Sounds bizarre.Why did you choose that?

‘I wanted to do an aerial discipline, but my shoulders were screwed from another job, so I chose Cyr wheel. But really I came to it because of a boy: Charlie Wheeler was a huge influence and he taught me when I was at the National Centre for Circus Arts in Hoxton. Basically I completely fell in love with Cyr wheel after that, and him. Just at the beginning.’

Awkward. Have you topped that level of embarrassing since?

‘My boob popped out on “The John Bishop Show”. They put us in these really tight corsets and we only had one take to do it, so there were several nipple slips.’

Are all your days so eventful?

‘It varies. When we’re rehearsing for a show we do long, hard days: Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm. Other days we’ll rehearse and probably have a performance in the evening. Depending on the season, I could have one show a week or four.’

Does the circus take over your life?

‘Massively.The hardest thing is not seeing my family. I don’t have a lot of time to go home and miss a lot, because I usually perform at night when people are having parties. Most of my best friends are circus people because we do the same thing and have the same hours.’

Scariest performance?

‘Probably climbing the London Eye for the Olympics. Coming out of the hub, over the river, just holding on to the spoke while trying to clip my harness on as it turned… That was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. As a performer you might do something that’s absolutely terrifying, but if you don’t do it you’ll be letting people down. So just do it.’

Hours: 40-50 per week

Starting salary: £50-£150 per job

Qualifications: Not necessary

Or why not become a funeral director?

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