By Chloé Margulis
Cameron Clay is a junior Musical Theatre major. Although he was a competitive swimmer growing up, he left the water for the stage in high school. The summer after high school graduation, he began his cirque arts training in the SkyGym Atlanta studio. In Fall 2012, Cameron moved to New York from Atlanta to attend LIU Post. After his freshman year, however, he left the university to pursue his passion for cirque arts, working a variety of jobs in order to train with Aerial Arts NYC. In September 2014, he returned to LIU Post to finish his bachelor’s degree.
What made you start acrobatics?
I saw the Cirque du Soleil show Mystère in Las Vegas and was completely blown away. While I was watching, I kept thinking, “I could do that. I’m going to learn how to do that.” When I got home from the trip, I found a training studio on the other side of Atlanta from me. After the introductory class, I was hooked.
What is a normal day of training like?
I’m lucky enough to learn from some trainers who have either been part of a Cirque du Soleil cast or have worked closely with the company. My main focus is aerial silks and static trapeze. When I was able to train regularly, I would alternate classes throughout the week starting with an hour of stretch and flexibility, followed by an hour or two of another class: silks, trapeze, or conditioning. Other aspects of training include being aware of what you eat throughout the day and listening to anything your body is telling you.
Which was your favorite Cirque show to be in?
I haven’t been in a full cirque-only show yet. I performed at the Tilles Center Collage Concert in Spring 2013 and was able to use my silks in Post Theatre Company’s Big Love last semester. Silks are basically the two fabrics that you have to climb up and do combinations with. There are two types: the hammock and the regular silk apparatus. The hammock is just one silk and it is easier because it is more stable. There are no cables or harnesses; you just have to hold on and tie foot knots to stay in, if need be.
Do you plan on doing freelance acrobatics on the side?
This skill is great because of its versatility. In recent years, there has been a surge of activity in the world of cirque arts. This means there are a lot more opportunities opening up for freelancing. I’m going to be pursuing this further after graduation.
What is your favorite ‘trick’?
I love drops on the silks and my favorite is probably a variation of the double star drop with a hip key launch. Basically, you start all wrapped up at the top of the silks, leaning parallel to the ground, before launching yourself backwards into a fast, exciting drop.
What are your plans for the future?
It’s hard to say exactly what will happen after graduation. I plan to audition as much as possible and will be training as I do so. Within the next few years, I plan to move to California and while I’m keeping my options open, I’m definitely keeping an eye on the Circus Center San Francisco cirque company.
How did you get involved with the Cirque?
I picked up on things quickly and discovered a passion for the art. When I started at LIU, I bought my own silks apparatus and brought it with me to keep up with it as much as possible. At the end of my first year at Post, I auditioned for the intensive program for Circus Warehouse in Queens and was given a spot, even though I was a novice compared to the other students. I planned to join the company soon after leaving school, but that was not meant to be and I’m very happy to have chosen the company I ended up with. I am currently with Aerial Arts NYC. I do stretch and flexibility classes, silk choreography classes, static trapeze, and some contortion classes. I am with this company mainly for training and seasonal showcases.
Who is your favorite acrobat, if you have one, and how has this person inspired you to become who you are today?
There are many acrobats I admire; one of my more recent favorites is Tom Ball. I draw inspiration from the storytelling in his work and the acting he incorporates into his performances.