Student of the Issue: Lindsey Barrows

Student of the Issue: Lindsey Barrows

Claire Marvin and Heidi Maupin

Sophomore Lindsey Barrows is one of Miramonte’s most interesting and unique students. Rather than kicking a ball around on a grass field or swimming laps, Barrows bends her body far past the breaking point of most teenagers as a contortionist. Barrows started her contortionism career seven years ago when she was asked to audition for the Circus Spire youth circus group based in Oakland.

“I’ve always been a strong kid, so starting out wasn’t that hard for me,” Barrows said. Barrows drives out to Oakland after school and practices for about four hours.

“At practice we stretch with a coach to get warmed up, and then we do a ton of conditioning for our upper bodies and core,” Barrows said. “Afterwards, we rehearse our routines and throughout the week we go to various other classes like dance, theater, and tumbling.”

When Barrows isn’t stretching and conditioning, she is practicing tricks and acts for her performances. Although she spends hours rehearsing, sometimes things can go wrong on stage. “My most embarrassing contortion stories always have to do with falling on stage during a performance, especially when I’m doing a trick on top of someone,” Barrows said.

Barrows’s Circus Spire is a pre-professional circus group comprised of 25 kids ages 12 to 18. “It’s really great to work with kids my own age, and I’ve made some really close friendships through circus,” Barrows said. At home, her friends and family are extremely supportive of her and think her contortionism is truly remarkable.

Even with her support network, Barrows often finds it difficult to balance her love for contortionism and performing with her schoolwork. However, Barrows claims that her lack of free time has its perks and has made her much better at time management.

Barrows said that “contortionism is what I want to do with my life,” and plans to pursue it as a full-time career. Instead of attending a traditional college, she hopes to major in contortionism at one of the prestigious circus academies such as the École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, or the National Circus School of Quebec.

For now, Barrows spends her summers traveling, touring, performing, and meeting new people in and around New England with another circus group called Circus Smirkus, just like her role model Jenny Ritchie. “I met a coach named Jenny Ritchie during my time in New England, and while she focuses mostly on aerial acrobatics, she has been an inspiration to me,” Barrows said. “She’s also originally from New Zealand which makes her pretty cool too.”

Like any strenuous sport, contortionism can cause injury. Right now, Barrows is struggling with torn ligaments and sprained tissue in her left arm from falling off a hand balance apparatus.

Though Barrows’s contortionism takes a lot of hard work, all of it becomes worth while when she performs. “My favorite thing about performing is the fact that everyone wants you to succeed: the audience, your fellow performers, the coaches, your family, etc,” Barrows said. “In other sports there’s always an enemy who wants you to fail and it’s just so much nicer to be in an environment where people want to see you do well and be the best that you can be.”