Published on May 10th, 2024 | by Andrew Bistak

Ashleigh Roper Interview (Aerial Hoop contortion and Hula Hoop artist, Cirque Bon Bon) #Melbourne

We catch-up with circus artist Ashleigh Roper to discuss her amazing circus talents and her involvement in the new show, Cirque Bon Bon which will be playing at the Athenaeum Theatre from 11 to 13 July.
Welcome to Impulse Gamer Ashleigh! So tell us, how did you end up becoming a circus performer?

I started off in the gymnastics world training and competing in rhythmic gymnastics, which is where hula hoops first came into my life. During my gymnastics career I didn’t really know what would come next for me but in my final year of competing it was actually my Mum who suggested I try out a circus class. At first, I wasn’t too keen but after stumbling across a video of the Contortion act from the Cirque du Soleil show Kooza, I thought it was the most incredible display of strength and flexibility. And then I signed up for my first circus class and not long after I auditioned for the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) and the rest is history.

The other mystery is… how do you find out that your body can do contortionism? 

I discovered my flexibility really early, as a kid I was always doing cartwheels and handstands in the playground and could already do the splits before my first gymnastics class at age 5. A lot of my flexibility is natural, so my training has always been around the stability side of things to make sure I don’t get injured. Which is why I’ll always be forever grateful for my gymnastics training.

Why do you think some people cringe while others are awe-struck by contortion? 

I think people cringe because it’s abnormal and if you’ve never seen it a lot it doesn’t look like it should be possible for a human to fold in half.

I’m one of those people that is awe-struck though, and I think that’s because I’ve grown up watching people push the boundaries of what the human body is capable of and how much training and dedication it takes, I’ve worked with some of the best acrobats and artists in the world and you’d think I’d be desensitised to but I’m constantly in awe.

You can’t get stuck right? Hula Hoops and Aerial Hoops? What is your favourite and why?

I’ve only ever gotten stuck in training… I was wearing a baggy shirt and my sleeves got wrapped around my aerial hoop whilst training a skill. Had to have a friend help me unwrap. But in shows I make sure to tuck all my costumes in to make sure that won’t happen in a show!

My favourite discipline has always changed over the years but at the moment I would say hula hoops is my favourite. With it being a manipulation its more tedious to train and it’s been many years of slowly chipping away at my skills to be at the level that I’m at today and I find that really rewarding knowing that years of training has gone into a skill that is now in my act.

When you started working professionally as a circus performer, what was your own personal “wow” moment in terms of your training being displayed to an audience? 

It would have to be my first ever contract. I was in my third year at school, and I got a last-minute call to come fill in for a show at the Adelaide fringe festival which was such an incredible opportunity and my first ever paid job and my first ever solar act that was performed outside of a school show. Because it was a jump in contract to replace someone, I had to fly in at the last minute, earn the show in four hours and then put it on the stage which is a very overwhelming situation and a kind of I’m either going to sink or swim. It all went really well and I enjoyed every second of it and end of that contract it was just one of those confirmation moments where I felt like OK I can really do this and I can really make this my career

What’s your funniest circus story?

I have caps on my front two teeth from a previous incident. Just before the doors opened for the show, I took a bite of an apple and one of my caps fell out. I had to do the show missing one front tooth, I looked like a hillbilly, and it was just so funny for me and the cast to control the giggles. I went to the dentist the next morning to get it fixed and I’ve had no missing teeth ever since. *Touches wood*

How did you become involved in Cirque Bon Bon?

My first show with Cirque Bon Bon was in December 2021. If I’m remembering correctly, I found out about the show and casting through Instagram and sent through my material.  I always have such an amazing time with the team and love to perform with them whenever I have the chance.

As a performer what’s your favourite part (your role) in Cirque Bon Bon? 

Aside from performing, which is my favourite thing in the world, I’m going to have to say the costumes in Cirque Bon Bon have always been some of my favourites to perform in. There is always so much colour and sparkle that it fills me with so much joy!

Lastly how would you sum up Cirque Bon Bon in a tweet?

Girls’ night? Date night? Or even a Family night out? Cirque Bon Bon has got you covered for a night of excitement, laughs and some incredible acrobatics!!


About Cirque Bon Bon

Melbournians can prepare to be spellbound by an extravaganza of light, acrobatics, dance and comedy when CIRQUE BON BON arrives in Melbourne this July.

Hot on the heels of its sell-out run in Brisbane, CIRQUE BON BON’s all-star cast of contortionists, acrobats and dancers will transform the Athenaeum Theatre stage into a cauldron of excitement, drama and hilarity.

CIRQUE BON BON is the brainchild of former Cirque Du Soleil Assistant Creative Director Ash Jacks and choreographer Julieann Nugent, and has attracted over 14,000 audiences in Brisbane, Adelaide and Noosa since it began in 2021.

That moment when you hear the crowd gasp in awe, all at once, right as the music stops and the act reaches its climax, that’s the magical moment,” says Jacks.

Our world-class artists have performed everywhere from Broadway to Las Vegas and London’s West End, so we can’t wait to see the looks on everyone’s face in Melbourne when CIRQUE BON BON arrives! We’ve used every last trick in the book to make this show something you just can’t look away from,” she continued.

CIRQUE BON BON will be led by world-renowned comedy emcee, Mario, Queen of the Circus, and will star a multi-talented cast including contortionist and foot archery artist Shannen Michaela who holds the Guinness world record for shooting an arrow the farthest with her feet; world-renowned Cyr Wheel artist Alexandre Lane; Aerial Hoop contortion and Hula Hoop artist Ashleigh Roper; Australia’s own duo hand to hand and skating artists Emma Goh and Scott Lazaravech; as well as juggler Cody Harrington and Aerial Straps and mouth hang artist Liam Dummer.

In Melbourne for five shows only, CIRQUE BON BON promises to have audiences on the edge of their seat for 80 minutes of beauty and bravery, from 11 to 13 July at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Produced by Jacs Entertainment and Woodward Productions, CIRQUE BON BON is world-class cirque entertainment for all ages.

Tickets for CIRQUE BON BON range from $59 to $109 plus booking fee. Ticketmaster pre-sale tickets are available now, and tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday 30 April via Ticketmaster or at

About the Author

When he's not trying to save the world, Andrew enjoys travel (although loathes turbulence), going to the movies, reading and being a dad to his two dogs (and now twins) with his wife.

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