Circus Factory member and past 3 month course student Anna Jones has entered this year’s Cork Rose. She wants to bring light to a number of issues including the insurance crisis in Ireland and how it’s affecting the Arts in particular. Anna also hopes to highlight that there are many paths to success in life, not just the ones most traveled by. We asked Anna some tough questions but in typical Rose fashion, she handled them with poise and grace. Keep reading to find out why Anna wants to represent Circus Factory in Cork Rose and why she, herself wants to partake..
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Anna, I am 24 and come from Cobh. For the last six years, I have worked as a tour guide. I like the outdoors and go to different tourist sites with my boyfriend on our days off. We really enjoy garden walks and history tours.
I am very interested in circus and performance. In 2020 I began aerial silks classes at Circus Factory, Cork. In July of 2022, I performed silks for the first time in the showcase ‘In Bloom’. Ths is what ignited my desire to create and perform.
Shortly after this, I took part in Circus Factory’s 3 Month Introduction to Contemporary Circus Arts course, in the hopes of further exploring circus performance, and to try new disciplines. During the intensive course, I built a foundation in many new skills, including acrobatics, trapeze and hoop. At the end of the course, I participated in a showcase of work ‘Showcase Evolution’, in December 2022. I performed an ensemble in acrobatics and dance with my classmates as well as duo acrobatics, and a solo in aerial sling, as part of the showcase.
Since the course has ended, I have continued training silks and attend classes every Thursday. Also, when I get the chance I like to train duo acrobatics. I enjoy being active and also go to my local gym.
Why do you want to enter the Cork Rose?
The reason I want to enter is because I feel it is a good opportunity for me to meet new people and enjoy new experiences. A few years ago I took part in the ‘Cobh Regatta Queen’, to get exposure for the YMCA STEP programme and was surprised to find how enjoyable it was. Everyone was really supportive and the friendly environment helped grow my confidence so I want to do something similar again. I also want to get more involved in the community and have experiences on stage as I want to perform aerial and acrobatics in the future.
Why do you want Circus Factory to sponsor you?
I feel that society measures success on academic achievement and I would like to see more representation of informal education and artistic success.Anna Jones
I think it is a good opportunity for Circus Factory as it will create exposure in the local community and potentially reach a different audience that hasn’t heard of Circus Factory already. The Rose Contest is about Irish culture and heritage while celebrating women’s achievements. A lot of the time I feel that society measures success on academic achievement and I would like to see more representation of informal education and artistic success which Circus Factory displays and celebrates. It would be great to draw more people into the circus world which would hopefully increase the support for the sector, in times of rising energy and insurance costs.
Why do you want to represent Circus Factory in the Cork Rose?
I would like to represent Circus Factory because I have gained a lot of life skills and it has brought a lot of joy into my life. I come from a background where mainstream learning did not work for me. Unfortunately, I did not do my leaving cert and but. instead, did a level 4 course in the YMCA before moving on to St. John’s Central College and doing a film and tv production course, so I never got a degree.
In Circus Factory, I found a community that I love and enjoy. They push me to do well but I don’t experience the stress and anxiety I had with school. When I did the 3 month Introduction Course in Contemporary Circus Arts, I found myself challenged, mentally and physically, but the level of encouragement and support made it a place where I could push through all of it and face those challenges coming out better at the other end.
I want to share my experience so that people know that there are other options out there for education, exercise and socialising; that anyone can do at any age. This is what I hope to pass on to the judges, other roses and viewers of the events and media surrounding it.
What issues or topics do you want to highlight as Cork Rose?
If I became Cork Rose I would like to highlight the Arts in Ireland. I feel Ireland is a country known abroad for its art and creativity. But sometimes I feel the sector can be somewhat neglected at home.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to make a living in the arts and many have to work a second job. Besides having a low and unstable income the costs within the arts can be very high as well.
With Circus in particular, insurance costs have been causing huge issues. When I first wanted to try out aerial classes years ago in Circus Factory, they had lost their insurance as they could no longer afford it. Thankfully due to their huge efforts, they were able to bring aerial classes back allowing me to join this wonderful community. Now they are facing trouble again. They may need to reduce the height that students can train at in classes due to insurance issues. This limits what aerialists can learn here in Ireland. And Irish artists who trainined her will be greatly hindered when competing on the world stage unless they leave and train abroad.
Recently the European Juggling Convention was meant to be held in Ireland. After great effort and planning the organisers had no choice but to cancel the convention as they could not secure insurance for the scale needed within Ireland. The convention has moved to Lublin in Poland and will thankfully go ahead this year. However, this was a huge blow to Ireland’s circus community.
Do you have any goals and ambitions as a Circus Artist?
My goals mostly revolve around circus performance. I would really love to perform at events and be involved in residencies. I’ve got a few ideas for performances that I hope to create an act out of and show people in the future.
I would also like to try competing in aerial competitions, which I have only started looking into. My goal is to try and compete in a virtual competition this year and hopefully a live competition sometime
Finally, how do you hope to inspire others like you as a Cork Rose?
I hope to inspire others by letting them know what is out there. Success isn’t just measured by your academics or careers. It’s measured by your relationships with others, interactions within communities, your hobbies, and arts. There are other ways to learn if traditional routes don’t suit you.
There are so many alternative options out there for education, jobs and exercise. So many think to be fit and healthy we have to spend all their time in the gym. While that works for some, others don’t enjoy doing that. We can dance in the air on silks, swing off a trapeze. We can find something we enjoy doing that helps us stay healthy while having fun. I didn’t start aerial silks until I became an adult. While I was only in my early 20s, there were times that I felt too old to be starting something new. But in Circus, I have seen so many people take it up at different ages and different backgrounds. I now believe anyone can take up something new at any stage of their life.