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Acrobat Esmeralda Nikolajeff: ‘Always push yourself to keep training and creating’

Esmeralda Nikolajeff. Credit: Steve Howse

Swedish acrobat Esmeralda Nikolajeff told her parents she wanted to be an aerial acrobat as soon as she was able to speak. She tells Giverny Masso about her first experience of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the Barely Methodical Troupe’s circus show Shift…

What’s your Edinburgh show about?
Shift is about seeing what we can do physically and how we can play around with the word ‘shift’ and ideas of tension and release. It’s the first time I’ve worked with Barely Methodical Troupe. We use elastic bands to explore tension. The show was commissioned by the Norwich Festival. This is the first job I’ve had where I don’t do duo trapeze, which I usually do with another girl.

How are you finding your first Edinburgh experience?
It’s really exciting. I’ve been wanting to come here for many years, but I have always been busy. It feels like I know the festival already, because I’ve heard so much about it.

How did you get into circus?
When I was a kid and grown-ups asked what I want to be, for some reason I always said I wanted to be an aerial acrobat. No one knows why. That was from when I first started speaking. Then my parents found me a circus course when I was four. I joined a circus group aged seven and after that I attended circus high school and the University of Dance and Circus, all of which are in Stockholm.

What are you plans for the future?
I’ve started to do some of my own projects with friends. Eventually, I’d like to make my own show where I am directing. I like mixing circus and site-specific work. My aim is to create new kinds of stages for circus. My friends and I have started to do a show in a forest, which is really exciting.

What is your advice for aspiring circus artists?
Just go for it – enjoy it. To get to a high level as an acrobat, you need to commit to training. I trained from 9am to 6pm every day. Always push yourself to keep training and creating. You have to love the adrenaline rush. For sure, I get scared, but it’s a thrilling kind of scariness. It’s always so exciting.

CV: Esmeralda Nikolajeff

Training: Youth Circus Group, Stockholm (2001-09); Circus High School, Stockholm (2009-11); University of Dance and Circus, Stockholm (2012-14)First professional role: Youth Montreal Circus Festival (2007)
Agent: None

Shift is running at Underbelly’s Circus Hub at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until August 25

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