Billy Alwen is co-founder and Artistic Director of Cirque Bijou, a leader in the field of innovative outdoor arts, circus and street theatre. After a career in politics and public relations, Billy started his circus life as an aerialist, performing all over the world and forming Cirque Bijou in 1999 with Julian Bracey. Since then Cirque Bijou have made thousands of shows across the globe for audiences of 50 to 50,000. In 2012 they made Battle for the Winds to launch the London 2012 Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth, which brought Cirque Bijou into partnership with Diverse City for the first time. A year later, the first Extraordinary Bodies show, Weighting, was made with an exceptional company of disabled and non-disabled artists. Since that first commission in 2013 Extraordinary Bodies has grown and developed into a national and international circus project, working with the National Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, and Circus Oz in Melbourne.
“It is very rare as an artist that you get an opportunity to reinvent an art form, but that is what I feel I am doing with Extraordinary Bodies. We are not only making a fundamental change to circus, we are making impact that goes beyond art, placing on stage the positive inclusive world we want to see in society. The best circus crosses so many art forms. It tells stories to people of all ages and backgrounds and it can surprise, shock and make you cry all at once. That is the kind of circus I aspire to make with Extraordinary Bodies.”