Muse performing in front of Cirque Bijou's Charles the Robot Image copyright
Hans Peter Van Velthoven

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Cirque Bijou made a giant robot for rock band Muse.

Many of us dream of stopping our nine-to-five tasks, to, as the saying goes, “run away and sign up with the circus”.

Billy Alwen did just that – literally – when he gave up a fledgling career in politics in 1992, aged 25, to end up being a full-time circus performer.

A couple of years later, in 1999, he set up Bristol-based Cirque Bijou with his buddy Julian Bracey.

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Farrows Creative

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Julian (left) and Billy have been running business for 21 years.

But in his extra time he had started training as a trapeze artist, and in 1992 he walked away from the day job to end up being a full-time professional circus performer.

” I understood my heart lay in carrying out,” states Billy, now 53.

He started to get work with circuses, and carried out at personal parties and celebrations.

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Kevin Mazur

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Cirque Bijou dancers carried out with Taylor Swift at the 2012 MTV Awards.

On The Other Hand, Julian Bracey, who is from Bristol, studied design at university in the 1990 s. He had won a scholarship to enrol on a prominent course at the University of Montreal.

On the streets of the Canadian city he states he was exposed to a great deal of circus and street performance.

” I would see individuals busking in a market, and believe, ‘I can do that,'” says Julian,50 So he ditched his plans for a profession in style.

” I ended up street performing all around the world, as a fire entertainer, acrobat, unicyclist and juggler.

” Then I joined a French circus, working as a compere. I wasn’t fluent in any other languages, however I learnt the entire show in French, and even Spanish.”

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Cirque Bijou

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The business uses a team of 200 performers.

To keep costs down they made do with a couple of computer systems, and based themselves in Julian’s father’s basement.

Billy states they chose to remain in Bristol because “it has a growing arts scene, and is a prominent centre for circus in the UK”.

However why the French name, which equates as “Classy Circus”?

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Cirque Bijou

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The company’s workers typically need a head for heights.

The business then grew progressively for many years, thanks to word of mouth, and Julian’s excellent contacts. “I had a little black book, and I knew great deals of people, as I had taken a trip a lot,” he states.

” I was quite protective of our contacts. That’s changed now because of social networks, it’s now more inclusive. You can now see someone on TV, Google their name, and state, ‘Hey, do you want to remain in our program?'”

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Over the years they have produced spectacles such as the yearly Taiwan Lantern Festival, a worldwide exhibit in Kazakhstan, and the opening events for the cruising occasions at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in the UK.

The show for the Paralympics included 64 handicapped and non-disabled entertainers.

When you add Cirque Bijou’s work with music artists, and the company is normally included in more than 100 reveals around the world each year.

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Jake Hancock

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The opening event for the cruising occasions at the London 2012 Olympics.

Considered that these males and females are frequently playing with fire, or walking tightropes, health and wellness is a huge aspect.

One year they worked with Katy Perry at an awards show, where she desired Catherine wheels attached to the knapsacks of all her dancers.

” We strapped the fireworks to their backs, and we ‘d accounted for all the health and safety threats,” says Julian. “However then this man from Sony came up to us, and said, ‘You understand that there’s this undetectable video screen behind you? It’s worth ₤300,000, and if you burn it you are in problem!’

” That was slightly scary, however in over 20 years we have never ever had any mishaps, which is incredible.”

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Rob Harris

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Cirque Bijou deals with handicapped performers, through a side project called Extraordinary Bodies.

Julian says it was especially tough when he spent 5 months on tour with Muse when his daughter was born.

Ade Berry, creative director at London arts and cultural location Jacksons Lane, says Cirque Bijou has “paved the method” for circus performance in the UK.

” It’s redefining circus, and pushing organisations like us to attempt to attain more, and reassess everything we understand,” states Mr Berry.

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