Nathan Knowles is a fairly odd beast originating from Vancouver, Canada and describes himself as having the mind of a canine stuck in the body of a young man. Most days are a struggle between deciding whether to chase his own tail or find a way to appropriately deal with the conventional world around him. Nathan had the luck of being introduced to circus at the age of 7 when he marched home from school to tell his parents that one day he would leave suburbia behind and maybe never look back. After 10 years of studying acrobatic dance and contortion, Nathan was accepted into Montréal’s renowned National Circus School where he spent 4 years specializing in hand balancing, contortion and aerial hoop. Now, with a head full of questions, a heart on fire and a new home with Circa, this pup has no doubt that he’ll find his way.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?
My earliest memory of performance inspiration would probably have to be my grandma’s closet. As a toddler I would dress up in her technicolor jackets and scarves, throw on a pair of her shoes, albeit way too big for my tiny feet, sort through her copious amounts of jewellery and parade around the house like the majestic fairy prince that I was.
2. When did you discover that you wanted to pursue a career in circus?
It was when I was 6 years old. One of my teachers who’s also a long time family friend invited a clown, Fileta Fish, to come in and teach us kids the basic skills of circus. That afternoon I went home and announced proudly that one day I would run away to the circus whether anybody liked it or not.
3. What is your background/ circus speciality?
My circus background is a little less traditional than most as I spent most of my young life studying acrobatic dance and contortion, only later at ÉNC in Montreal did I specialize in handstands.
4. What attracted you to want to work for Circa?
As I grew out of my phase of raging through my grandma’s wardrobe and the older I got I realized that spectacle is intensely superficial and I wanted my work to be nothing less than raw and fuelled from a place deep within. Circa approaches circus as an art and not spectacle or more importantly not as a sport. They leave their audiences full of questions and feelings rather than than the usual reaction to circus being simple amazement over feats of force and strength.
5. What did you have to do in your audition to get a job at Circa?
The road of getting to Circa involved working with Yaron during a workshop in Montréal in the Canadian winter of 2016. After this little taste of his way of directing, I knew this was the route I’d need to take in order to mature into the artist I hope to become. After a series of emails and multiple Skype meetings to go over logistics and cover everything on both ends I was invited to join the team!
6. How are you enjoying Brisbane so far?
At first I had mixed feelings about Brisbane but the more time I spend here the more it grows on me. I keep finding new hidden treasures and can’t wait to see what summer in Australia will be like.
7. What do you love most about being a circus performer?
I struggle with anxiety and circus has helped me to find tools in order to manage it. In our field we are constantly thrown into high stress situations and if you’re serious about doing circus you have no choice but to jump into the pool of sharks and learn to swim alongside them. I love circus for how much it has helped me grow.
8. Do you believe in superstitions? Do you have any around performance?
Superstitions, at least in the modern sense of the word aren’t really a factor for me but if I have any quasi superstitions around performing it would have to be that if you’re not nervous there’s a big chance that you don’t care about what you are doing. The more of a mess you are before the show the more it means to you and the more you want to succeed.
9. What advice would you give to an aspiring young artist to begin or pursue their career?
BELIEVE! Believe in yourself, believe in your coaches, believe in your cast mates, believe in your instincts, your heart and your soul.