Sean McIlraith

I am a multi-disciplinary South-African/Irish aerialist, specialising in rope and silks.

With a love of any apparatus I can get my hands on, I love to dabble in as many areas of physical performance as possible. I started my circus career in 2018, watching crazy folks drop from the ceilings on fabrics in a climbing gym. Instantly my focus shifted to this weird and wonderful world, my goals shifted slightly from my love of surfing and climbing outdoors to hanging from the rafters almost instantly.

After about a year of practicing and strength building, I took the plunge and moved to Barcelona to attend the Rogelio Rivel Circus School. This gave me a foundation in aerial, movement, theatre and groundwork like hand balancing and acrobatics, and the knowledge that you don’t need to speak the same language to do circus together! Learning this opened my eyes up to the wider world of circus. As an artist with no prior dance or gymnastic background, this year was imperative to gain a basic confidence in my own body. I discovered my love for contemporary circus, aerial rope and dynamic movement from incredible coaches from all over the world, from Canada to Italy and further. The circus culture is deeply rooted in Barcelona city and I had access to resources that I never thought possible.

I returned to Ireland to share what I had learned and to expand my circus community in the country I call home. This led me to Taking Flight, one of Dublin’s main circus centres. Here I was able to begin my teaching career in a practical way and simultaneously started working online with the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal to become a certified coach. This took me to Montreal where I was lucky to train and learn in the renowned school for a few weeks, learning to teach and fall from even taller heights!

Since then, I have bounced around Europe, with the support of the Irish Arts Council attending intensives and courses wherever I can to learn more in physical and artistic technique, from rope courses with Emiliano Ron and Erika Radcliffe, to online mentorships with Diego Salles and Hanne Coeckelberg. The awarding of the 2020 Circus Bursary made it possible for me to finally give all I have to making a career as a young professional circus artist in Ireland. This bursary research was largely based in beginning to take my technical skills and use them as a creative expression.

After some years now, as an emerging artist my voice is being discovered. I love dynamic movement and I use it to express my inspirations. From raw blurry emotions, nature and philosophy. It is only the beginning and in the last year I have began to take control of my own creative process and begun choreographing my own pieces, collaborating with artists from other fields such as musicians and videographers but also collaborating within circus by beginning to learn doubles rope and trapeze, and beginning to learn what it takes to create entire shows and spectacles.