Cover Photo Credit: © Gérard Uféras 14_04_17
Hi, my name is Nicola Willis and I’m a circus artist currently working at The House of Dancing Water in Macau China. Here at THODW I am a generalist, meaning I do many different disciplines and also have enjoyed the role of House Troupe Girl Captain.
My ideal role would be either an aerial straps role or cradle flyer, I also enjoy many different circus disciplines, I love to fly. I have grown to love aerial straps over the past 3 years and have worked very hard to be the best I can possibly be; flying on cradle just feels amazing, I would love to do more. The art is never complete, you can always improve and I hope to continue to grow as an artist every day. Outside of this I would love to do some casting, since I’ve had a vast range of experience myself I would love to use that to help to find new talent and even advise others and give insight.
My top five credits are: competing for Great Britain in the Olympic Games 2004, becoming an All American while competing at The University of Florida on an athletic scholarship, graduating with a Bachelor of Science and minor in Education from The University of Florida, working for Cirque Du Soleil in the shows Saltimbanco (living crazy tour life) and La Nouba (in Orlando USA), finally working as an artist and captain at The House of Dancing Water.
I would say that I am a good example of how far you can get with hard work and determination. I am also a good example of the different roads you can take within and from sport to maximize your opportunities and experiences in life. I never really knew of all the roads I could take within gymnastics and on from there. When I was younger there was very little social media and while living at the national training center in England from the age of 16 I felt like I was living in a little bubble unaware of all the opportunities out there and only focusing on elite competition. While competing on the international circuit I was lucky to have coaches approach me from Universities in USA and offer me athletic scholarships; what an unknown dream that experience was. I believe it was this experience that helped me to come out of my shell from a very shy gymnast to a much more mature outgoing gymnast and all around confident individual. This really helped with my next transition into circus, I just love to perform and see the crowd’s emotions during each performance as well as the exhilarating feeling of flying through the air.
Each journey had many ups and downs and each transition had its challenges but I always managed to push through. I really feel that the fact that I didn’t give up when times were hard made me stronger and stronger and through this I continued to grow and go for each and every opportunity I could. Only through the ups and downs have I found what I like the most and where I fit; although some of the opportunities I was most afraid of turned out to be the best ones.
One piece of advice from me to you is that you should never let an opportunity go because you’re afraid, sometimes you don’t know yourself as well as you think and the one thing you are most afraid of is the perfect thing for you.
I find inspiration every day just from being in the training room at The House of Dancing Water, wow what a special place. You can see artists training in many different disciplines. The knowledge that is shared between artists freely is astonishing, people are so giving and I’m so grateful to be working in such an inspiring environment. I can find inspiration anywhere in THODW building from the dance studio to the gym to stage trainings. The other place I find inspiration is on social media. It’s an amazing source available to everyone where you can find any kind of inspiration and also share your art with others.
One of the reasons I love to perform is for the audience; to watch their faces light up every night is so special. To see how your performance can affect someone’s life is such a blessing and I hope I inspire others by doing what I do each and every day. I also love the feeling of completing a good act and giving all my heart to both training and performance; it completes me. I really enjoy interacting with others on stage, it’s such an honor to be able to share the stage and work hand in hand with such talented artists and wonderful people each day.
Outside of stage performance, working on my own creations keeps me alive and helps me to continue to grow artistically as well as physically. I love the thrill of learning new things and the feeling of flying just keeps me alive. Last but not least I love to help others in any way I can to help them to better themselves; if it’s advice or coaching or just an ear listen. Circus means more to me and my life than I would have ever imagined. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes “do what you love, love what you do”.
I don’t post much on Facebook but I often use Instagram
Thanks for reading my story 🙂