Nathan Knowles

What do you do in your day-to-day life?
I was lucky enough to be introduced to circus by a local clown at the age of 6 years old, in my hometown of Maple Ridge, BC Canada. I can assure you that my everyday life is not as ’spectacular’ as you would expect from Circus Performer. There are no clown cars, no sawdust and definitely no pet tigers. Although, it’s very safe to say that I have spent close to 3000 hours of my life in a handstand and I’m only 22.

Image © Florian Hetz

After doing a large part of growing up in dance studios and contortion school, I found myself at the prestigious École Nationale De Cirque in Montréal at 17 years old. In the closing chapter of my four years studying in Montréal, I met Yaron Lifschitz and Libby McDonnell of Brisbane’s globally renowned contemporary circus company CIRCA. Fast-forward a few months and I’m hopping on a plane to Brisbane, now 18 months later I’m a proud ensemble member of the company.

Why do you do it?
Although it started out fairly innocent, circus, believe it or not, keeps me out of trouble. If I’m around, ruckus is probably not too far off either. It has also been a vital tool in my life to regulate anxiety and my mental health. Most people would think of the army as a means to structure and discipline but I looked to the circus and it’s managed to keep my in line even though I’m often facing the wrong direction. On top of all that, circus is a way of giving back to society and putting positivity energy out into the world. From December 6-9 2017, we will be performing our critically acclaimed show 'Humans' at Brisbane’s QPAC. It’s one thing to perform to a crowd of strangers but to perform in-front of people I know is an often rare and exhilarating experience.

What do you love about the city you live in right now?
Tricky question, although I hold a Canadian passport and work for a Brisbane based company, I don’t really live anywhere. Work has me traveling a lot and unable to set up roots anywhere. If I were to count Brisbane as where I live, the part I love most would have to be QLD’s relaxed motto of ’No shoes, no shirt, no worries.’

What's the best thing about being a part of the LGBT+ community?
Growth, discovery, struggle, love. The community is no stranger to hate and ignorance, but somehow we always manage to foster love and support. No matter how dark coming of age is for most queer folk, there is always a fire burning inside of us and a desire for a better world. How can someone not be thrilled to belong to a community that is unapologetically known for being exactly who they are, especially in the face of everything that stands against them.

In your opinion, what is the most misunderstood thing about the community?
The ever so simple concept of love. Queer oppression and ignorance in response to our natural human desire to express love. Love also has to do with sex, the beautiful, strange often complex magic that is sex. People who oppose the queer community seem to have a tendency to be Peeping Tom’s into what they think goes on in our beds. This strange obsession that heteronormative society has with queer sex leaves them blind to the root of it all, love. Strange, isn’t it?

Nathan Knowles dance

Image © Jason Organ

Do you have an LGBT+ icon/spokesperson that you look up to and if so, what do you love about them?
Every single queer person that came before me and that I walk alongside today. The fearless people who we’re and still are selflessly willing to risk everything in hopes that one day, we will no longer need to fear, doubt or hide our love. I could never express enough gratitude to the activists past and present who fought for our rights, who battled the AIDS crisis and who have allowed me to love as freely as I do.

How do you define happiness?
Happiness is a warm bed, warm skin, a full belly, a smiling stranger, family, chosen and blood. Happiness, is thinking of the dog I wish I could adopt. Happiness is everything I own being able to fit in a suitcase and backpack. Happiness is living homeless in a hammock in Byron Bay for five days. Happiness is often everything I take for granted.

Are you happy with your work/life balance?
This is a tricky one, my work is also my passion, meaning it wasn’t always my way of making an income. Naturally, my work life and my personal life tend to bleed into one. I also spend more time with the folks from CIRCA than I do with anyone else. We often live in close quarters, we travel together, we work together and I’m sure you can imagine this leads to an incredibly close, almost marriage like relationship. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, no matter how hard it gets from time to time.

If you could travel back in time for a day, where would you go?
Berlin, July 17th, 2017.

What is the best lesson you've ever learned?
That sometimes, it’s ok to not be good enough or live up to other people’s expectations of you.

What is your spirit animal?
Based on my personality I’d be either a wolf or a sloth, or a mix of both, imagine that.