Daredevil circus-style performances. Does a safety net or harness spoil or change the act for you?

Just thinking about the kinds of acts often associated with the circus - high wire, trapeze, etc. Does the addition of a safety net or other similar equipment designed to prevent catastrophic outcome define it as a fundamentally different performance for you?

I think it does. With a safety net, it’s an impressive display of skill and expertise, but without one, it’s no longer (for me) primarily about the skill, it becomes an act of defiance.
I mean, obviously, the skill of the performer is no less important in this context, it’s just that the emphasis upon what is being performed changes to the extent that it’s a different game.

What say you?

Well it doesnt spoil it quite as much as watching a guy plummet to become strawberry jam.


I’d rather see it with a safety net. As for harnesses, I’ve seen them used as a part of the artful performance; Cirque de Soleil is an example.

Aerialists working without a net remind me of Evel Kneivel’s performances, where he accepted broken bones as part of the job. That’s just stupid.

I don’t ever want to see someone get hurt because of something they were doing to entertain me. I wouldn’t want to watch anyone perform stunts without safety gear.

Yes, it is fundamentally different for me. But I much prefer to have my performers use a safety net. I wouldn’t enjoy watching people risking their lives for my sake.

Nah, still impressive with a net or a harness. If they pull the routine off without falling in the net - yay! If they don’t pull it off and they don’t mangle themselves - yay too!

I can’t bear to watch if they don’t have obvious safety equipment. If they don’t, I think they’re either stupid or I assume that the act is not actually as dangerous as it appears.

Nets and harnesses don’t spoil the act for me. I’m there to be impressed by the display of talent and skill, not by the possibility that the performer might be killed or seriously injured.

When I said different without a safety net, I didn’t mean necessarily better. I mean more nerve-wracking. I am still amazed at what the acrobats can do without falling or using the safety net.

Although this has changed a bit since Cirque du Soleil became well known, safety equipment used to be one of the major differences between western and European circuses.

Circus was always a much more cultural type of entertainment in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Just about on par with the opera or ballet. Since the focus was more on artistry, there was much less of a daredevil vibe. Aerial acts in Soviet circuses usually used safety devices.

Having seen both kinds, I much preferred the European model. Take wire walking - in America you would often see a guy or group walking across a wire with no net, way above the floor. Just walking. In a European circus the guy is ten feet off the ground, harnessed, but performing backflips. No contest, I’d much rather see that.

Safety net, no. Harness–I will be less impressed, but usually people with harnesses are doing things it would be impossible for them to do without, like flying down from the rafters, and then back up.

One of the most impressive things I’ve seen was an aerialist who hopped on a bicycle, rode halfway across a high wire, and then…stopped. After a good 45 seconds, he started shifting his weight so the wire swung a little side-to-side, while the bicycle remained stationery.

Someone sitting on an absolutely stopped bicycle? That would have impressed me on the ground, frankly.

I’d go for something like this. If the only role the harness plays is if something goes wrong, that’s fine. If they’re taking advantage of the harness to make their act easier (or it just looked like they might be), it would defeat the whole purpose.