The Man (and Woman) on the Flying Trapeze
Did you ever want to fly through the air with the greatest of ease? Trapeze and high wire acts have been thrilling circus-goers forever. This is an area of expertise where skill and split-second timing mean more than the difference between a great show and an embarrassing display. Trapeze artists have died in the long history of the art, particularly those daredevils who have sought to thrill the audience by plying their trade with no safety net beneath them to break their fall. The expression “Don't try this at home” is painfully applicable to the art of the flying trapeze. If you have no experience in this field, then professional training is a must, both for your own safety and your ability to land a job.
There are many trapeze schools out there. It is possible that you may find one in your area, though some hopefuls will probably have to travel a distance to find one. But if you have an overwhelming desire to leap off a platform twenty-three feet in the air to catch a swinging trapeze, or the hands of your aerial partner, you will find your way to a training center.
Those who have never flown before are likely to find the experience both frightening and liberating when they attend their first class. The instructors are sure to be patient, encouraging, and always safety conscious. If not, get your money back and try another school.
You will start slow. First you get used to hanging from a low bar by your hands, and then you learn to hang by your knees. You will not be far off the ground at first. When you do ascend to the platform, you will be equipped with a safety harness. The greatest obstacle will likely be your fear and your survival instinct. To leap from a great height is not a natural act for humans. It goes against instinct. If you take that leap of faith, knowing you are in no real danger, the result will be exhilarating.
In the second lesson you will practice hanging from the trapeze by your knees. Hanging high above the ground is one thing; doing it upside down is another experience altogether. This is the position where you will function as a “catcher.” This means just what it sounds like. Another person, probably the instructor, will leap from the platform into your waiting hands. Timing is everything. Don't despair if it does not work the first few times. Practice makes perfect, and no one will be hurt.
Ludwig's Flying Trapeze Resource Page (
Eventually you will be working without the safety harness, but there will always be a net beneath you. You will be learning tricks called the pull over, uprise shoot, and forward over. Before you know it, you will be doing double somersaults and twisting tricks. You will work individually, in pairs, and in teams. You will be taught exercises and stretches to do at home to make you more limber and graceful. You will learn about the rigging and other equipment used.
Once armed with the essentials, you can set about going on auditions to circuses. Inquire if the school has job placement and/or assistance programs. Many do. The instructors will certainly have contacts in the industry. It will be difficult but not impossible to get your foot in the door. If you are prepared and able to give a soaring audition, you can look forward to enjoying the natural high provided by a cheering audience.
Some trapeze schools to check out are the Trapeze School of New York (at