Guest Post by Dan Bauer
Today’s jobtalk is with Stevee Mills, an acrobat with Circus Oz, Australia’s internationally acclaimed contemporary circus. From New York to Hong Kong, Circus Oz has taken its self-crafted performances of wit, grace and spectacle to 26 countries across five continents, to critical acclaim. The Circus Oz show is a rock-n-roll, animal free circus that full of death-defying stunts, awe-inspiring acrobatic performances, irreverent comedy and a spectacular live band. The company had three performances at McCarter Theatre on April 7th and 8th 2012.
B. A. Circus Arts, National Institute of Circus Arts, 2010
How old were you when you first realized you had a drive and talent for the circus?
I was 23 years old when I became interested in circus. I am a former gymnast so after 5 years of working in the animal industry, I realized I would rather be doing backflips again.
What was the first job you had?
I was an animal attendant at a travelling petting zoo.
When you decided that being a circus performer was your calling?
As soon as I started training again at 23, I knew I wanted to be a circus performer.
Once you had the realization that you wanted to be a circus performer, what was the path you took to get to where you are today?
I enrolled in the Bachelor of Circus Arts degree program in Melbourne and after graduating I was offered a position at Circus Oz.
In your profession do you concentrate on one skill or do you have to learn and perfect many? Is there one act that you prefer over the other?
At Circus Oz very performer has a range of different skills, from juggling, trapeze and acrobatics to playing a musical instrument. I prefer acts that include the entire cast, because being onstage in front of an audience with the whole company is a really fun experience.
How do you find work?
We go through auditions; we also send our showreel to different companies and get work through word of mouth.
What are the hazards of your profession?
Circus can be a high-risk profession but lots of training, body maintenance and injury prevention can really help in avoiding getting hurt.
What are the pros of your chosen profession? The cons?
Pros are travelling to amazing places and meeting lots of interesting people, working for a great company that is involved in indigenous community projects throughout Australia, and of course, doing what I love for a living! Cons… None!
If you weren’t a circus artist what would you be doing?
Do your friends expect you to entertain at parties?
Most of my friends see my shows so are probably sick of me entertaining them.
What’s a typical day like for you when you’re not touring?
When I’m home in Melbourne the ensemble works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at our headquarters in Port Melbourne, training, devising and rehearsing. We are touring 6 out of the next 12 months.
Have you had to make any sacrifices for this profession?
The only sacrifice is being away from my family and my dog for half of the year. But it’s worth it!
What advice would you give someone who wants to join the circus?
Train hard, perform in front of an audience as often as possible, and have fun!
What’s job security like for a circus performer? At what point does someone decide it’s time to retire and do something else? Have you thought of what that something else will be for you when the time comes?
I think the only time to retire is when you don’t love it anymore. Injuries can heal and age doesn’t have to be a factor.
What’s your favorite part of touring?
Seeing amazing parts of Australia and the world.
Where is your favorite place that you’ve visited on tour?
My favorite place so far is Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Before a performance, do you listen to any music to psych yourself up and get in the right mindset?
At Circus Oz we have a live rock band, so listening to them warm up gets us all pretty pumped.
Has there been a time in performance where something went terribly wrong?
Nothing comes to mind, but it has happened. The trick is covering up and making a mistake look intentional.
Dan Bauer is the Director of Public and Community Relations at McCarter Theatre Center. In that capacity, Dan oversees all publicity for the Theater, Dance, and Music, Jazz, and Signature series. An Associate Producer of SmartTalk since 1999, Bauer has worked with such distinguished women as Julie Andrews, Andie MacDowell, Debbie Reynolds, Rita Moreno, Maya Angelou, Isabella Rossellini, and Coretta Scott King. Bauer also works as a tour guide for Princeton Tour Company. Bauer is a regular at Small World Coffee, practices yoga, makes homemade dog food, and is a certified Spinning instructor. His documentary leben, um zu sagen (live to tell) will have a screening at the Princeton Public Library on Sunday, September 23 at 2 p.m. Currently, he is writing a memoir about his 100-year-old grandmother.