January 25, 2021
The Alumni Spotlight is an initiative led by Executive Assistant (and FGC alum) Ellie Davis to get back in touch with previous FGC Troupers, to see where they are now and hear how circus has had an impact on their lives and careers.
In January 2021, Ellie interviewed Caroline Wright, a “second generation” FGC Trouper (2001-2005) who went on to perform internationally as an aerialist with various companies including Cirque du Soleil.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. What have you been up to the last few years, and where are you now? I lived in California for a long time, and I spent most of 2019 on tour with Cirque du Soleil at Sea throughout Europe. Then I moved to the Boston area right before the pandemic hit.
Now I work and train at ESH Circus Arts in Somerville and Commonwealth Circus Center in Jamaica Plain. We're still allowed to have live classes with youth and teens, and with adults in the context of professional development and private lessons. I'm so grateful I'm able to see people in person right now!
[Editor’s note: remember this interview was in January 2021, so things may have changed.]
What's the most challenging part of teaching circus with Covid-safe restrictions?
The most challenging part for me is trying to coach a large group of children when they're all so far apart. I think kids gain a lot of momentum and focus from being close together, even just running in circles, so I'm missing that. And not being able to spot them physically is frustrating. It's been an easier transition with adults, I would say.
Has there been an upside of the pandemic for you?
Actually, yeah. I was severely impacted by Lyme disease for several years, since 2012. I was able to push through it and recover enough to do Cirque At Sea [last year], but by the end of that it was clear to me that there was more work to be done. I found out Lyme disease had actually injured my brain and impaired my nervous system's ability to regulate many different functions. So my daily project since March has been a self-directed neuroplasticity program called DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) to rewire my brain and teach my nervous system how to regulate itself properly. It has been really special to have the time and space in my life to devote to that. I totally thought Lyme disease was a life sentence, and the fact that it's not is the total gift of 2020!
[Here’s another treatment protocol for Lyme disease that Caroline recommends.]
Caroline performing in Cirque du Soleil At Sea, 2019.
So let's go back in time. What made you want to join Flying Gravity?
My parents used to take me to Circus Smirkus from when I was one and a half or two years old, and she said that was the only time I ever sat still. So it was pretty clear I was interested in circus. It was actually really painful that I wasn't participating in circus myself, but I just didn't see any sort of pathway between where I was, with no circus skills, and becoming someone who had them. When I saw the founding FGC troupe perform for the first time, I remember getting into the car afterwards thinking, "I HAVE to do that. I am going to die if I don't do that!"
What are some memories that stand out to you now from your time in the Troupe?
I loved building pyramids–being with everyone and creating new shapes. That was super special. I miss that.
The “Mount Monadnock” pyramid, circa 2001. Caroline is on top of the right-hand pyramid, wearing green. Are there other skills or experiences from that time you feel have carried forward into your life today?
Learning how to get along with all sorts of personalities, and learning to set aside personal preferences for the greater flow of things. I really started to learn that when I was in FGC, and that's really important in this line of work.
Also learning how to stick with things I'm not passionate about to support my ability to continue my passion! Now I'm really good at doing my PT exercises, things like that that are maybe uncomfortable or boring, but are just as important as the fun stuff.
Do you have any advice for a current Trouper?
Don't spend too much time on your phone–you might miss the magic of what's really there in person.
What do you see unfolding for you in the next few years?
In my perfect world, I would perform a whole lot more before moving on to other things; I hope that'll be a possibility! My wife and I just bought a house in Dedham, MA, and it feels like an excellent home base for us. I feel really blessed to be living near my family again.
A big thanks to Caroline for sharing some of her journey with us.