The Ringling Bros. Circus heading to New Orleans in July is set to bring all sorts of eccentric characters to a city where that sort of company is welcome. The lifestyle of a circus performer is still one to spark up curiosity, especially from those who pursue being shot out of a cannon ball as a career, like Nicole Sanders. On stage, Sanders is known as “Nitro Nicole,” and although the stage name, makeup, and the general desire to be flung into the air at a staggering speed all work together to create an image that seems aberrant – life wasn’t always so.
Nicole Sanders graduated from Loyola University in 2007, where she studied psychology, ballet, and Spanish. Before becoming a human cannonball, she figured she would continue life with a career in psychology. However, that changed when she became interested in the trapeze at her gym, which overtime opened up an opportunity to participate in a two-year program at the Circus Center in San Francisco, California. From there, Sanders was able to study underneath some of the most celebrated aerialists in the world, as well as travel to Peru for work.
Sanders credits the Ringling Bros. crew for her confidence to shoot out of a cannonball without fear of injury. The company prioritizes safety, and such a strong bond between her and the crew allows for the development of a community, which, for Sanders, was the “most surprising but really rewarding thing about joining the circus.”
The lifestyle of a circus performer isn’t easily understood, and Sanders is all too aware of that, yet she still continues to push boundaries in every way she can. Most human cannonballs are men, but by following her dreams despite the lack of female representation, she hopes to empower young girls to break any unfounded restrictions they come across in order to pursue their goals.
Tickets and schedules for the Ringling Bros. Circus can be found on their website ringling.com