Cir­cus Kids

What hap­pened when 15-year-old Imo­gene told her par­ents she was off to live her dream un­der the big Top

TV Times - - News - Cir­cus Kids thurs­day / C5 / 9.00Pm Sean Mar­land


A life spent per­form­ing un­der the bright lights of the Big Top may sound glam­orous but, as C5’s three-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries re­veals, hard work at an un­for­giv­ing pace is ev­ery­day life for child per­form­ers.

Very few par­ents would let their 15-yearold daugh­ter leave home to join the cir­cus, but Imo­gene Reynolds was so de­ter­mined that her mum felt she could not stand in her way.

‘I’ve al­ways loved per­form­ing,’ says hoop­ist Imo­gene, who left her par­ents and younger brother be­hind in Great Yar­mouth, Nor­folk, to join Rus­sell’s Cir­cus, which tours the coun­try.

‘When I was 10, I saw a girl fly­ing through the air on the hoops. It was amaz­ing and it looked like so much fun. Af­ter that I knew that’s what I wanted to do.’

Imo­gene is one of sev­eral young­sters fea­tured in c5's three-part se­ries Cir­cus Kids, who wow au­di­ences with their unique acts. Un­like most of the oth­ers she wasn’t born into a Big Top fam­ily.

‘Be­ing in the cir­cus is very spe­cial for me be­cause I’m first gen­er­a­tion,’ she says. ‘Who knows, if I ever have chil­dren, maybe they’ll do it as well. It would be amaz­ing to start a per­form­ing fam­ily.’

Here, Imo­gene tells us more about her life…

What did your par­ents think about you want­ing to join the cir­cus?

I started go­ing to Cir­cus

School when I was 10 and they were re­ally pleased I’d found some­thing that I loved do­ing. As the years went by I told them I wanted to run away and join the cir­cus, but they thought it was just a phase. As I got older they re­alised it was some­thing I se­ri­ously wanted to do.

Did they at­tempt to change your mind?

They were ac­tu­ally OK about it. When I told my mum I’d been in­vited to spend the year with Rus­sell’s Cir­cus she was a bit shocked, but she be­gan to see that

I had my mind set on it so she let me go.

Leav­ing home at the age of 15 must have been scary? I was quite scared for the first week or so, but I knew I had loads of peo­ple around me who made me feel wel­come. We’re like one big unit and every­one gets on re­ally well!

It must be a real thrill to work un­der the Big Top?

I love per­form­ing and it’s amaz­ing when you walk off stage and you know you’ve done well in your act. The blood is pump­ing so fast that most of the time you don’t even re­alise peo­ple are ap­plaud­ing you.

What did your school friends say about your choice of ca­reer?

They were quite proud of me be­cause they know it’s what I’ve wanted for years, but they were also a bit worried and thought I would never come back or get hurt. I was per­form­ing near home the other week and a few of them came to see me, which meant a lot.

How do you find time for your school work?

I try to fit in at least a cou­ple of hours a day, but it’s dif­fi­cult be­cause they don’t teach the kind of skills that I’ll need for life as an entertainer.

What sur­prised you most about day-to-day rou­tines? It was dif­fi­cult cook­ing and do­ing my own laun­dry at the start, but the worst bit is def­i­nitely emp­ty­ing the toi­let. When I first did that I felt very gross and dirty and had to have a shower straight away!

Do you want to spend the rest of your life in the cir­cus? Def­i­nitely. You for­get about the out­side world be­cause your whole life is in the cir­cus. I’d love to learn the fly­ing trapeze and my dream is to be in Cirque de Soleil. Those guys are the best aerial per­form­ers in the world!

Do you feel you are dif­fer­ent to other 15-year-olds?

A lit­tle bit be­cause I like to work hard and I like be­ing busy. Some teenagers like to stay in bed un­til midday, but there’s no way I could do that. The best thing about the cir­cus is that there’s al­ways some­thing to do.

dressed to im­press Time to shine: The teenager pre­pares for her big act Tak­ing flight: Imo­gene wows the crowd

It would be amaz­ing

to start a per­form­ing


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