Occupation: Circus performer

Choosing circus as your occupation may not be the most common thing to do. But it’s important to listen to your dreams. And that’s what Mikaela, who’s currently performing in the Kaaos Kaamos company’s show Babel, Glöm, did.
Text Paulina Sokolow

Five questions and answers about Kaaos Kaamos with Mikaela Valencia Veide.

Where are you all from?

Erik Glas and Johan Sjölund are from Umeå, and they got started with their fire performances up there. Then, they moved down to Alby to attend the Cirkus Cirkör upper secondary school. I grew up in Bredäng and attended Bredängsskolan. I lived in Bredäng and Alby until I moved abroad to study. Erika Ahola is from Rovaniemi, and Perry Rudolph is from Dresden. Anouck Le Roy was born in Brittany, but she grew up crossing the Atlantic on a boat with her parents and her sister.

How did you, personally, end up working in circus arts?

I was studying at Globala gymnasiet, and I was writing a report in the library one evening, when I realised how incredibly dull it was to be sitting still in front of a computer, analysing things that other people have done. I also realised, then and there, that if this was what my education was like, my future job would probably be much like it, so I decided to find an education programme that would make me happier. And then, as though by a magical coincidence, I spoke to a girl who told me about her circus friends who were about to give the final performance of their show. She thought I should come and watch it. I did, and right then and there, I made my mind up: I want to do that! Of course, I was only thinking of it as a hobby; something I could do while I was finishing my education. But life had other plans for me, and I fell head over heels in love with the circus world and the people in it. So, I repeated the second year of school, relocated my life back to the suburbs, where I’d always felt the most at home anyway, and found myself free to spend my days doing handstands and flying through the air.

If you were to use three phrases to describe Babel, Glöm, what would they be?

Group dynamics, tolerance, and “no matter what.”

What is the life of a circus performer like?

Woah, that’s a tough question! The life of a circus performer is amazingly liberating and exhilarating, but it’s also a life where it’s hard to find the time and energy to get everything done. The financial insecurity can be a bit of a strain. I can only speak for myself, because all circus performers have different circumstances. We chose to create our own company from scratch, without any public funding (well, maybe the last part wasn’t exactly a choice). Therefore, we’ve done everything ourselves, and that’s involved a lot of work. It never ends. I’m still learning the art of telling myself: “That’s enough. Sit down bitch, drink some tea!” On the other hand, it’s also meant that we’ve been allowed to call all the shots, and be our own bosses. We decide how we create, and what we’re going to keep in the show. This means that I genuinely love performing our show, and that I really miss doing it when we don’t have any gigs. It truly is an honour to play, train, look for ways to improve things, make it more fun, and go higher, and then get to call doing all that your job. There’s also a great deal of travelling, which suits me very well as I’ve always enjoyed seeing new places. This last year we’ve struggled to make ourselves a home, because we’re never in it!

How did you develop your show?

We simply started with ourselves, and our own reality. We had our circus techniques, which already served as a way for us to relate to one another. Apart from that, we soon noticed that we all love hugging, so we based it on that. Having six circus performers all hug each other makes for a lot of interesting situations. I’d also like to add that we laughed a lot, monkeyed around, pushed each other in positive ways, allowed ourselves to be vulnerable around each other, and took plenty of coffee breaks!

Text: Paulina Sokolow