The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Unicycles, aerials, juggling, fire spinning and... recession thumb

When Cary Lam, a trained accountant, first took up circus arts while traveling on the other side of the world, she never imagined she would one day be co-running Calgary’s only circus studio. What she did know was how important it was to her for circus arts to be part of her life.

“I was a traveler on and off for about 10 years,” said Lam, who found herself living in Melbourne, Australia on a holiday Visa. 

“I opened the newspaper one day and there was eight weeks of fire spinning and I thought, ‘Why not?’ That’s what really got me interested in circus arts and it has been an amazing journey.”

Produced by: Amy Tucker

But since holiday Visas put time limits on her stay at any location, Lam was forced to travel to a new destination, and with her growing passion for circus arts, finding a new circus school to train at was difficult.

“It takes a couple of months to find a job, find an apartment ... And by the time you are ready to do circus arts, you have lost most of your strength, so you have to start all over again,” said Lam.

Fast forward to 2009 when Lam returned to Canada, she not only found a circus school but also took over its ownership. The Calgary Circus Studio, located in Inglewood, was thriving. All classes were fully booked – there was an inflow of new members and old members were returning.Calgary-Circus-Studio-2One of Lam’s most popular courses are aerials for teens and adults. Photo illustration by Amy Tucker

However, during the current time of economic woes, Lam worries she will lose students and worse, she fears that if the studio ever went under, there would be nowhere for Calgarians to learn circus arts.

“If this was gone, people would lose their entertainment or whatever joy they find in circus.”

Lam is hopeful that the economy will recover sooner rather than later, and that her business will remain afloat. 

For now, Lam said she is just thankful her business is doing okay, “I know as Calgarians we would be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to be patient about it.”

Thumbnail by Amy Tucker. 

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The editor responsible for this story is Zoe Choy, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Editor's note: The subhead of this article was corrected to reflect the correct term "fire spinning."