Lisa Lot­tie (30) is a hula hoop­ist and street per­former. Born in Am­s­ter­dam, she shares a home in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, with her hus­band, Reuben, who is an acro­bat. They live to­gether when they are not touring the world with their sep­a­rate shows

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WAKING HOURS - In con­ver­sa­tion with Ciara Dwyer

On a typ­i­cal day, I wake up around 9am. I live in Mel­bourne, but I could be any­where in 45 coun­tries around the world. Most likely it’s Aus­tralia, but it could be Dubai, In­dia, Hol­land, Spain or Canada. If I’m lucky, my hus­band will be with me. That only hap­pens if he’s at the same fes­ti­val as I am. He’ll be per­form­ing with me in Dublin and Cork next month, at Laya’s Health­care City Spec­tac­u­lar. I am a hula hoop­ist, and my hus­band, Reuben, is an acro­bat. I met him in Lon­don when we were both do­ing street shows.

Some days I work with him, but it’s not al­ways that way. It’s like any two people hav­ing ca­reers where they travel a lot. With mes­sag­ing, Skype, phone calls and text mes­sages, it’s very easy nowa­days to be su­per-con­nected. It’s not like it was 10 years ago. I can have a very reg­u­lar, con­stantly sus­tained con­ver­sa­tion with my hus­band through­out the whole day.

The minute the alarm goes off, the first thing I do is reach for the clos­est source of caf­feine. Then I open my com­puter and do some emails. I like get­ting them out of the way. Then I’ll have some break­fast. What I eat of­ten de­pends on where I am in the world — I might have some fruit or yo­ghurt. I have to watch what I eat. I have a di­eti­cian who tells me what I have to eat, de­pend­ing on where I am and the work I am do­ing. Gen­er­ally, I eat a lot of pro­tein and the least pro­cessed food pos­si­ble. I eat lit­tle and of­ten. I try not to have large amounts of food in one sit­ting, be­cause if I’m re­ally full, it’s hard for me to train or do shows.

I have been a pro­fes­sional hula-hoop artist and street per­former for the past 10 years. It all be­gan when I was liv­ing in Brighton, and I had sev­eral bor­ing jobs — work­ing in re­tail, and stuff like that. I didn’t hate what I was do­ing, but, at 20, I was more in­ter­ested in the so­cial as­pect of life than the ca­reer-driven side of it. I was quite con­tent with what I had, but what came to me was way bet­ter. I think it’s a great idea for every­body to work in a job that they don’t like very much, or go trav­el­ling. If young people do things that they don’t en­joy, then they can ac­tu­ally work out what they do like. That’s how it hap­pened for me. It was a bit of an ac­ci­dent, but a happy ac­ci­dent.

Within the space of two months, I was given a hula hoop and re­ally en­joyed it. The girl who gave me the hula hoop of­fered me a job to work in the cir­cus. So I ran away with the cir­cus. I had vis­ited cir­cuses as a kid, but I never thought that I’d be part of one. I used to be an an­i­mal ac­tivist, be­cause I didn’t like see­ing an­i­mals in the cir­cus, but, hav­ing worked there, I now have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion. I un­der­stand why an­i­mals are there. They have a place in the cir­cus, and the most im­por­tant thing is that they are looked af­ter prop­erly. Work­ing in the cir­cus was su­per hard work — shows, trav­el­ling, and more shows. In the end, I ac­tu­ally ran away from the cir­cus. I didn’t want to work with them any more, but I never wanted to stop per­form­ing.

Be­ing a street per­former is scary, be­cause you’re stand­ing up in front of a crowd and they don’t ex­pect you to do any­thing, but you’re giv­ing them a show. That’s part of the fun. It’s un­ex­pected, and it’s out­side the box.

When a girl busks, it can be frowned upon, but I’m re­ally happy do­ing it. I work for my­self and not for any­one else. At the end of the day, my money comes from every­body who watches me, not from one per­son. I en­joy that I’m not mak­ing any­one rich, apart from my­self. I love that I don’t have a boss, and I get as much out of it as I put into it. I find that re­ally re­ward­ing.

On the day of a per­for­mance, I’ll train in a gym. I work on my strength and flex­i­bil­ity. I’ll spend an hour do­ing push-ups, hand­stands and pull-ups, and then I do a lot of stretch­ing. I’ll have some­thing to eat and then rest for an hour or two. Later in the af­ter­noon, I’ll gather my equip­ment and walk to wher­ever the fes­ti­val is on. Af­ter the sound check, I get ready, and then I do my show, which takes about 40 min­utes.

I don’t get ner­vous. I re­ally care about do­ing a good show. I’m al­ways putting in new tricks and se­quences. If I’m do­ing shows in the Mid­dle East, I’ll have my shoul­ders cov­ered, and I won’t make jokes that can be per­ceived as hav­ing any kind of sex­ual in­nu­endo, and I will be very picky with the vol­un­teers I choose. My show changes dras­ti­cally so that it is cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive, but I am still able to do it.

When you’re do­ing a street show, it’s very easy to gauge if an au­di­ence is en­joy­ing it. If they don’t like it, they leave. I also per­form in the­atres and on cruise ships, but street the­atre is the thing that I en­joy the most. You never know if you’re go­ing to get paid. I love the free­dom of that.

But with great free­dom comes re­spon­si­bil­ity. It’s just part of be­ing an adult. When it’s over, I take pic­tures with ev­ery­one and give au­to­graphs. Then I might meet up with some of my co-work­ers and go for din­ner.

It can be hard be­ing away from my hus­band, but it’s part of our life, and it’d be way harder if both of us weren’t work­ing. I think be­ing able to pur­sue your pas­sion is the most im­por­tant thing in life, above any kind of re­la­tion­ship that I might have, and it’s the same for him, thank­fully.

I don’t want to have chil­dren. I’ve lots of per­form­ing friends who have chil­dren and man­age to do keep work­ing, but I’m not in­ter­ested in that. It’s still pos­si­ble for them, but it’s a bit harder.

At night, I stretch, have a lit­tle snack and then go to bed. I want to be a hula hoop­ist for a long time. Some of my skills might wither, but my per­for­mance skills won’t. I do what I do be­cause it makes people happy. It puts smiles on people’s faces, and, at the same time, it makes me happy. It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

If I’m per­form­ing in the Mid­dle East, I cover my shoul­ders, and I won’t make jokes with any kind of sex­ual in­nu­en­dos

Lisa Lot­tie will per­form at Laya Health­care’s City Spec­tac­u­lar from July 8-10 in Mer­rion Square, D2, and on July 16 and 17 in Fitzger­ald Park, Cork. En­try is free. See cityspec­tac­u­

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