Zoe founded CirqueScape after retiring from international performing. Her touring career spanned more than a decade and saw her ice skating, juggling, and aerial dancing across six continents. Her guest blog posts will give an insight into her experiences over the years. You can check out her performance background at www.zoebaldock.biz
Circus diaries… let the adventure begin
Even all these years later I still remember that journey from the airport like it was yesterday.
It was probably one of the first times I noticed how different the light is just after sunrise, throwing long shadows through a gold-tinted haze. It might have been the first time I had witnessed sunrise over an ocean, and perhaps that helped.
The roadside was teeming with children dressed in smart blue uniforms, skipping and chanting on their way to school. Pigs and dogs would occasionally trot unhurriedly across the road in front of us.
Gradually the chaos settled, with the children disappearing into their schools. As the landscape slowly evened out into a blur of glittering ocean and bowed palm trees, I distinctly remember congratulating myself on my excellent decision to run off to a Samoan circus.
It wasn’t just the spectacular scenery that led me to that conclusion. The new colleagues that I had barely met made me feel like a part of the family within minutes, nattering away with me like we were old friends.
A lesson in local culture: Samoan history 101!
As we drove along, the schoolchildren we were passing pointed into the car at me shouting “Palagi” (pronounced “palangi”).
My new friends laughed and explained that it sort of meant foreigner in Samoan, but I shouldn’t be offended, nor flattered. They likened it to pointing at a tree and saying “tree”. It was just that these children didn’t come across Palagis very often in real life so it was noteworthy.
The girl explained that she was Afakasi, meaning that she had Palagi heritage. German, to be exact – one of the long term changes to the cultural landscape in Samoa brought about by migration and colonialism. That, she told me, was why she looked so different to her companion, who was much darker than her despite them both being born and raised in Samoa.
Our chatter continued as they gave me a tour of the town of Apia, interrupting each other and laughing together. They showed me the local brewery and the downtown market. Then we passed the site where we’d be pitching the big top for opening night in a few weeks.
Before long it was time to head up into the mountains to meet the rest of the team, and my guides entertained me with tales of the circus all the way there.
The photos you see in this post are Zoe’s personal photos from her travels! Feel free to ask her about what it was like to join the Samoan circus by commenting below.
To find out what it was like up in the mountains you’ll have to read Welcome to circus life!