The travelling circus is alive and well in Australia.
Natalie Weber, 51, and her husband, Rudy, are in their 12th season touring Webers Circus throughout the hinterlands of Australia.
They have been performing in Croudace Bay this week, with final shows on Saturday and Sunday before moving on to Bateau Bay (Sept 13- Oct 7) on the Central Coast and then to Morisset (Oct 11-21).
Their big tent seats 500 for the Wild West show, featuring about 15 acts running nearly two hours, including a 15-minute intermission. Pony rides are available before the show for $5 a go.
The circus is in your blood if you’re a Weber: Natalie was born into a circus family, starting in a tumbling act with her father, brothers and sisters at the age of five, before moving into aerial acts and horseriding.
Now, she’s got thee daughters and two grandsons in the Webers Circus troupe. All told, there are 25 performers, with a total travelling group of 34, including children.
The circus has its own school teacher and a dedicated mobile classroom. Of course, the teacher is also a dancer in the current show and sells necklaces beforehand.
“Everyone probably has more than two jobs I would say,” Weber confirms. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also a good life as well.”
Weber says newcomers are still keen to join the circus life, but there’s no room for divas at the grassroots level. Besides a driver’s licence (there are three semitrailers and 18 caravans associated with this show), common sense is the most important attribute, she says.
It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also a good life as well.Webers Circus manager Natalie Weber
Rudy Weber may be the most important person in the operation, if only because he does all the vehicle and equipment maintenance to keep the show on the road. He’s recently taken a break from performing – he was part of the 10-person Russian swing act, but has taken time out due to an arm injury, Natalie said.
Jansen Grant, 30, joined the show last year with his wife, Acacia. Grant came from the Ashton Circus, which is no longer in operation.
Grant is the acrobatic star of the Wheel of Death, keeping his balance while running, skipping, jumping, and leaping – including with a blindfold – on the huge vertically rotating wheel.
Acacia does a hand balancing act in the show.
While all cast are driven by the desire to perform, there’s more to it.
“Some of them who go to circus schools have a good act,” Natalie said. “If you only want to perform, you have to go overseas. With the family shows, where it’s hard get a buck, people have to do everything.”
Webers Circus performs more than 230 shows a year.