International Women’s Day: spotlight on Tilly

Strong women make circus

This blog post was written by Geraldine Giddings, Senior Producer and Rachel Pender-Cudlip, Arts Administrator, in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Extraordinary Bodies #ChooseToChallenge gender bias and inequality in the circus industry. Circus as an artform has its own particular ways of stereotyping genders but also enabling freedom from those very stereotypes. It allows for exploration and expression of identity, as all art should. Today, we shine a light on Tilly Lee-Kronick, who leads the new Extraordinary Bodies video by Vice and the National Lottery.

Through circus, I surprised myself and surpassed my own expectations of what my body was capable of. Of how strong I could be both physically and mentally. Circus has opened my eyes some of the strongest, most capable and inspiring women that I’ve come across.

Tilly Lee-Kronick

Tilly’s experience as a woman in circus

As a female circus performer, I felt very aware of certain expectations that didn’t sit right with me such as doing the splits, being dainty, wearing small leotards. There is conflict within me about how much I want to live up to these expectations. I do want to have nice splits and I do love a nice leotard! The discomfort was that I didn’t want appreciation solely for my flexibility, body size or costume choice. I wanted recognition for my strength, ability, thoughtfulness, creativity and dedication.

Tilly Lee-Kronick, circus artist

Tilly is strong, creative, inventive, thoughtful and determined. In the past, she has performed with us in In C at Bristol Beacon and Birmingham Town Hall, as well as in our Smithfield Market cabaret. Last year, she was in our pandemic mini-film What Do You See In Me?. This year, she is one of our cast member of our new show Human, which is set to tour in the autumn.

Tilly flies through the air, smiling brightly, her feet tied to a circus rope. Outdoors rigging and a grey sky behind her.
Photo courtesy of Coventry City Council

I first met Tilly when she was still studying at Bristol’s Circomedia. She showed such enthusiasm for Extraordinary Bodies’ work that we invited her to join the Company. Bit by bit she has become an essential member of the artistic team.

Billy Alwen, Cirque Bijou and Extraordinary Bodies Co-Artistic Director

Tilly has many solo projects on the go. She is currently performing her one woman show Ripedirected by Mish Weaver. She is also developing a new circus show with aerialist Coral Dawson and fellow Extraordinary Bodies cast member, aerialist and musician, Jonny Leitch.