Growing up, Tricia Moore, founder and performer with The Circus Farm, a circus performance group based in Mesa, Arizona, says she fell in love with gymnastics. Moore says after a long break, she wanted to get back into physical, performing arts, but there weren’t a whole lot of options for her—at least none that caught her attention.
“It felt like there weren’t a whole lot of fun sporty things for adults to do that I would be interested in doing,” says Moore. “I have no interest in being on a baseball team or anything like that, but I love to dance, and I grew up dancing and in gymnastics and baton twirling, but that’s kind of an immature thing for an adult to do.”
She uses the word “immature” twice when talking about her decision to pursue an interest in circus performance. Now in her mid-40s, Moore laughs at how it must seem.
“You can’t at 30 years old go and sign up for gymnastics—at least when I was 30 you couldn’t,” she says with a laugh. “All the dance studios and gyms were all for kids, and I wanted to do something sporty and athletic that wasn’t going to the gym and lifting weights.”
In 2000, Moore began taking belly dancing classes, then fire classes and “it all seemed to come back to me naturally. I was already prepared for all of it. I just worked really hard and it came back to me.”
Along with Brendon Hebert, Moore began Trishnamurti and Friends, a circus performance group, in 2007. As the group grew, they needed more space for practices and events. Luckily, Moore found property in Mesa where she could grow vegetables, raise chickens and practice circus arts. Thus, The Circus Farm was born.
“Originally, I was looking for a piece of property to host circus events,” says Moore. “It was more with the intention of having a place big enough to have people come over and spit fire, but now it’s just huge. It just kept growing and growing.”
The name ‘The Circus Farm,’ like most nicknames, was given to Moore’s home by others. She says she would have preferred a name that sounded more professional, but “I found the property, and the name ‘The Circus Farm’ just kind of happened.”
Almost nine years later, The Circus Farm continues to perform in Arizona and around the Southwest. They’ve also started hosting a monthly Circus Jam every second Friday where they invite the community to practice and participate in anything from fire to parkour to aerial acrobatics.
Noticing there weren’t many places where people could practice circus arts, the group started the Circus Jam as a way to encourage the safe practice of the niche art form.
“There was little space but not many [venues for practice] in the community yet,” says Hebert. “These [circus] arts have exploded over the last few years, and we are happy there is space for people to foster their skills in a safe environment.”
The circus has changed considerably since the days of Philip Astley, who is commonly referred to as the father of the modern circus. From the early 19th century on, the circus has moved from families of performers to conservatories of self-trained artists, from ringmasters and rings to traveling acts and theatrical performances. Most notably, the circus’ traditional method of using animals has shifted, with more and more contemporary acts focusing on human feats and character-driven approaches.
Hebert says that sometimes when people attend the Circus Jams, they’re expecting to work with animals given the “farm” portion of the group’s name, but he says the group never performs with animals.
“I do feel [The Circus Farm] fits more into the contemporary circus, although you can never deny the roots in which it all was popularized. Personally, I've never been a fan of the animals in circus, and the skills of people is what we cultivate and admire,” says Hebert.
“Brendon and I are huge animal lovers and have many animals sharing our home with us,” adds Moore. “There is no place in modern circus life for the mistreatment of animals.”
So The Circus Farm focuses on its dazzling performance, everything from belly dancing to fire breathing, awing us with a contemporary twist on a century’s old art form. As well as bringing the community into that performance and teaching everyone no matter what age they are, The Circus Farm thrives in its daring performance. As the group prepares for their upcoming performance in Sedona at the annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration, Hebert and Moore feel the event showcases The Circus Farm’s creativity and talent, as well as gives them an opportunity to participate in a special cultural event.
“When we perform, most of the time it is for corporate or private events. This is one of the few times when we can bring out a large portion of our team to give to the community on a day that rich in culture and remembering loved ones,” says Hebert.
“We feel very honored to be a part of the festival,” adds Moore. “It’s elegant and beautiful and it give us something to look forward to, something to work toward. It’s really a chance to be creative and try new things.”
The Circus Farm will perform at the Dia de Los Muertos and The Marigold Mural Project at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Craft Village, 336 AZ-179, Sedona, on Nov. 3 from 4-8 p.m. For more information about the group, visit www.thecircusfarm.com