Stilt walking, fire breathing, hoop dancing and extraordinary costumes. No, you don’t have to track down a circus to see these acts, at least not in Columbus.
The Amazing Giants, formed in Columbus in 2011, are a team of circus artists and performers who specialize in stilt walking, fire arts, and dance.
The group is made up of 15-20 circus arts performers who work and offer their services all throughout Columbus. I had the chance to talk with founder, Jessica Minshall to find out a little more about The Amazing Giants.
Q: First, can you give us a little of your background in circus arts?
A: I kind of just got started through a band. I was flown out to Colorado to perform for The String Cheese Incident and that was kind of my first ever performance on stilts. I had done hooping before, but that was in 2011 and was kind of my first experience up on stilts in front of 10, 000 people and it was totally crazy and not safe. Then I came back to Ohio and a few of my friends started learning how to stilt walk and we started performing under the name Amazing Giants and pretty much our first event was in Yellow Springs and from then on everybody kept seeing us more and more. People wanted us to perform at their events and festivals and we’ve probably done 200 events since 2011 and it’s just crazy the amount of people that we’ve gained with the stilt walkers and the community. We’re just growing more and more.
Q: What interested you about performing and what inspired you to start Amazing Giants?
A: Well, we’re emphasized on just making a positive mark in whatever atmosphere we’re in, and whether it’s like with our costumes, just making something up unbelievable, or something that no one’s ever seen before or just kind of spreading a good positive vibe. Through our smiles, the way we dance, the way we interact with people, kids and adults, that’s what kind of keeps us going, just the reactions we get from people, it’s what drives us to get out there more and more and just be a part of whatever community we can be involved in.
Q: What kind of costumes do you wear while performing?
A: Usually it’s for whatever scene the event is. Like highball this year we had unicorn costumes, shooting stars, cloud nine, it was kind of like a fantasy realm of an idea. We’ve done a Christmas tree, which definitely made it’s way around town a few times.
Q: Can you explain the dances?
A: Generally when we are stilting it’s usually to music or there’s usually live music so we just get out there and extremely emphasize crazy dance, and as much energy as we can. We haven’t really explored with choreographed dances yet but that’s in the works for a potential circus we’re gonna be joining in June. But we do fire on stilts as well, fire eating and fire hooping so a lot of fire performers as well.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about the fire artists?
A: It’s can be on its own and we kind of intertwine it while we’re on stilts as well but we have done smaller 15-minute fire eating shows. And we have pulled a lot of our fire performers from a community group and that’s kind of just like a weekly group that gets together every week and practices their skills.
Q: How did you meet the other members of Amazing Giants?
A: Pretty much, it’s just a good group of friends that all learned how to stilt walk together and I think we’ve got about somewhere around 17 stilt walkers. We’re just all friends and we thoroughly enjoy traveling and performing together and it’s been awesome to get to do this for a real life job.
Q: Do you have a favorite talent that you offer?
A: Well it would definitely be stilt walking of course, that’s what we do the most. Our favorite event of that would be at highball, they’ve had us back two years and our next favorite event would be the Electric Forest festival in Michigan.
Q: Can you perform every talent, yourself?
A: Yes. I do, I do all the fire performing as well. There are definitely a few other people that are maybe more experts in other areas than some but yeah I do know how to do everything.
Q: Is there one act that seems to be more popular?
A: Pretty much people just want to have stilt walkers interacting with their guests mingling with the crowd and just a diff element for their event. We’ve done lots of kid stuff too and we’ve got like interactive kids activities with parachutes and jump ropes. We’re starting to expand in the kids area but we’re also really good for adult entertainment as well.
Q: How has the business turnout been since forming?
A: I think it’s just getting out there so more and more people are aware I think stilt walking, the past art is coming back to present day and people are starting to recognize that. And business comes when you least expect it and it has been just growing since it started and that’s just awesome, just the feedback from people.
Q: What makes Columbus an ideal place to base your company?
A: I think it’s an excellent place to base your company. It’s great for any kind of small business that’s getting ready to take off because our market is so diverse and there’s so much opportunity as far as special events that happen in the city. Just all different kinds of people to entertain and that are curious about these evens and tons of places to promote, it’s definitely a great base for our company for sure.
Q: Can you tell us about one of your best memories with Amazing Giants?
A: Lets see, there’s so many, every time we do an event we have so much fun. But I guess this year’s highball was pretty fabulous. That was a group of 11 and we had costumes and kind of just making our way through the crowd and looking back seeing 10 giants walking behind me all dressed up, it’s just pretty awesome. Yeah that was pretty epic for us. It’s just crazy the response we get from people when we’re in groups.
Q: What are your hopes moving forward for Amazing Giants?
A: Just to kind of get more and more business I guess, more events and just spreading regionally and throughout the Midwest. Just growing the company.
Photo provided by Bortmas Photo.