While we prepare for Cirque de la Symphonie this Saturday, March 1, we thought we’d profile local gymnast and aspiring cirque performer Locksley MacLean and her quest for the big leagues…

locksley picLocksley MacLean always loved gymnastics, but never expected to be training to become a professional circus performer at the age of 21. Born outside of Ottawa, Locksley was enrolled in gymnastic classes when she was just three years old. When she was seven, she moved to Hamilton and continued gymnastics training until her knees suffered from overuse. Locksley maintained a high fitness level through synchronized swimming and enjoyed horseback riding on the side. She returned to gymnastics in her early teens and was introduced to aerials at 19.
“I try not to think about falling when I’m up there,” says Locksley. “I leave the fear on the ground, but it’s always at the back of my head and we’re trained to safely recover from slipping.” The physical toll on the body is high, especially when learning new moves. Locksley says she has calluses on her hands and is covered in bruises, but it’s worth it as a performer. She has performed with the Hamilton Arial Group at Supercrawl, The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Liuna Station and Hamilton’s Fringe Festival.

loclsl;ey pic 2Music impacts the aerialist’s physicality and tone of their performance. Locksley says, “I try to communicate the story in a song. I pick music I can move to and like my performances to be quirky and use music that allows me to move fast.” While Locksley enjoys slower music pieces, they require more concentration as she maintains more controlled movements.

Locksley is currently a level 3 coach through Gymnastics Ontario and coaches at Manjack’s Gymnastics in Mississauga. She decided that an ordinary office job didn’t align with her interests, and after high school, pursued a career as a gymnastics coach. Locksley is undergoing intensive training at the Toronto School of Circus Arts as she prepares for Cirque du Soleil auditions. She trains from 10:30am to 4:30pm five days a week and commutes from Hamilton. Although she has set her hopes high on working with Cirque du Soleil as a performer, she is also interested in their coaching positions. Working as a coach with Cirque du Soleil would unite her love of coaching and dream to work with the world’s most famous circus. “I love coaching because I want to inspire people to love this sport. It’s an opportunity to give back to those who have inspired me.”

Locksley hopes to travel as an aerialist and gymnast. If not through Cirque du Soleil, other circuses and cruise lines offer positions to performers and would provide Locksley with the opportunity to see the world. Following her career as a performer, Locksley thinks she would enjoy opening a circus club.

Take a look at Locksley’s rehearsal as she prepares for Hamilton’s Winterfest 2014: