Running away from home to join the circus, it’s a dream many have had. But for Amanda Lee, this is her reality. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Circus Arts at the National Institute of Circus Arts Australia specialising in hand balancing.
How did you get into circus?
I began artistic gymnastics at the age of four. I trained and competed at a national level for nine years and was training up to 20 hours a week through school. My whole childhood was dedicated to the sport, and I don’t remember having a day off. When I was 13 I discovered my passion for the arts. I auditioned successfully for one of Australia’s leading dance companies QL2 Dance, who I danced with for four years. Through them I was introduced to circus artist and Artistic Director of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Jodie Farrugia who encouraged me to audition for the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). After moving to Melbourne to study dance at the Victorian College of the Arts, I successfully auditioned to Australia’s National Circus School. I come from a family who highly appreciates the arts and supported my decision to pursue circus.
What is your day-to-day life like?
My day-to-day life is very repetitive, I keep a consistent training schedule in order to stay capable of heavy training and performance loads, and to continuously improve my skills. I begin training every morning at 8:00am, and finish at 5:00pm. My day consists of a personal training program including pass juggling, aerial training, tumbling, flexibility and at least three hours of strict Russian technique handstand training. On top of this, I also study dance, anatomy, performance, sports psychology, nutrition and circus history as part of my degree. I teach circus children’s classes three times a week, and Sunday is my only day off. It’s a crazy schedule, but I love it.
What do you hope to do following your graduation?
Circus is a continuously growing art form, and contemporary circus is what I am extremely passionate about. I am fascinated by companies such as The 7 Fingers, Circa Contemporary Circus, and Casus. These companies are currently producing incredible art through the use of circus, physical theatre and performance. They are travelling the world, performing on beautiful stages, sharing ideas and building connections between cultures. Circus is an art form which brings people together, and I hope to collaborate with other circus artists who share my passion in order to communicate and inspire.
What is the best thing circus has allowed you to experience?
Circus has allowed me to experience absolutely incredible things. I have already had the opportunity to travel to Montreal, Quebec City, Las Vegas and New York, and I do not doubt that I will be visiting many other places throughout my life. I am currently preparing for a trip to Russia. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I am able to do what I love every single day. It is not an easy life style, but it is incredibly rewarding. Looking into an audience, it is amazing to see children gasping and smiling, and that adults share the same childlike expression. Circus is something that brings people together no matter what age or culture. It inspires people and does not have a language. Experiencing this feeling and having the opportunity to communicate messages and break down barriers through my work is unbelievable.