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First Person

Flying high

Twenty-two-year-old aerialist Lindsay Culbert-Olds has formed a new circus troupe, performing August 19 and 20 at the Arlington Center for the Arts.

Lindsay Culbert-Olds.

JP Rollin

Lindsay Culbert-Olds.

I started off as a gymnast, but I was never super-competitive. When I was 8, I was watching the PBS show Zoom; they interviewed two kids on the Circus Smirkus tour, and I thought that was amazing. I started going to the sleep-away camp, auditioned three times for the tour, finally got on, and did that for four summers.

During high school, I studied trapeze at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro. It was just a crazy thing I liked to do; I didn’t realize it could be a career for someone not born into a circus family.

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It wasn’t until I got to college at Mount Holyoke that I realized how much I missed it. There wasn’t anywhere in the United States to keep training at the technical level I wanted to reach. In Europe, Asia, Canada, circus is this respected art; it has a history, a culture, government support. In the United States, it’s not a recognized art form. There are very few American circus companies for kids to dream to grow up and be in. So I left to attend circus school in Montreal, where it’s a big part of the culture.

[Our collective] wanted to come back to the United States and show what we do, present our vision as performers. In traditional circus, you’re creating a spectacle to thrill your audience; in contemporary circus, you’re trying to include theater, dance, other forms of art to tell a story. It’s more of a performance piece. There wasn’t really an American company we could do that with, so we created our own. We named it Frequently Asked Questions, because there’s a standard list of questions we always get asked: Are you a clown? Do you work with lions? Our goal is to answer those questions: No, we don’t work with lions. No, we’re not all clowns. Yes, we can do a flip.

The name for our show is “Now You Know.”   

— As told to Melissa Schorr

CATCH THE ACT The circus company Frequently Asked Questions performs August 19 and 20 at the Arlington Center for the Arts. For tickets: faqcircus.bpt.me; for venue information: 781-648-6220; acarts.org

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