Gliding her way to the big top – Wexford People, May 5 2016

Tara Doyle Robinson climbed to the top when her aerial silk routine came first in Wexford Has Talent 2016 and since then, her passion has taken her to dizzying heights.

The 18-year-old gymnast from Wexford town is currently flying high in Circus Gerbola as it makes its way around the Southeast. It’s a far cry from the lives of her old school friends in Presentation Secondary School, who are currently cramming for their Leaving Cert examinations.

‘I left school two weeks into sixth year to pursue my dream in the circus,’ she said. ‘My mam was very supportive. She thought it was nice to get into it as it’s not as stressful as the gymnastic contests I have done. I can show my personality and put my own twist on things.’

Circus Gerbola takes Tara to Wexford, New Ross, Enniscorthy, Courtown and Lucan, where she will perform an aerial silk routine up to twice a day. It is the second time that she has gotten involved with this particular circus and for Tara, the big top feels like home.

‘There’s a really nice atmosphere there and not a lot of pressure,’ she said. ‘It’s like one big family and you can perform what you want.’

Tara has been doing gymnastics since she was six-years-old and has taken part in many national and international competitions. It was only within the last year or so that she decided to give aerial silk a spin. She discovered this new passion while training at the Circus Space in Bristol and since then, she never looked back. Her mesmerising performance at this year’s Wexford Has Talent proved to be a top act for the judges, who crowned her the winner of the competition.

While most girls her age are preparing to get their university lives off the ground, Tara is spending most of her time up in the air. As well as performing in the big top, she is continuing to train for gymnastics competitions with local club Gym Stars. Throw a full time job in hospitality in the mix and it’s a wonder she has any time to talk. But this busy lifestyle doesn’t faze Tara, who understands the amount of effort she must put in if she wants to soar above the rest.

‘I train for about 30 to 40 hours a week. As it’s competition season, I work on standard routines, as well as a certain amount of strength and conditioning. I practice for about six hours per session and you could have two sessions a day,’ she explained. ‘I am competing seven times this year so I need to keep up my training.’

When it comes to her silk work, Tara said she is mostly self-taught. However, performing twists and spins from long silk ribbons at heights of up to 20 feet is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The danger involved in her routines is something that struck fear in Tara’s mother at the beginning but according to Tara, the trick is to remain confident.

‘The most important thing is to have the right mindset. Those who say they are going to fall or not going to fall are usually right,’ she said. ‘It’s very dangerous. One fall and then you are gone. You have to tell yourself that you aren’t going to fall.’

Tara hopes to compete in one more European Gymnastic Championship before focusing solely on her circus career. As her profile on the circuit continues to rise, Tara is aiming high for the future.

‘I’ll probably do mostly aerial silks as well as trapeze work and hoop. I’m also thinking of going into contortion,’ she said. ‘Doing Cirque de Soleil would be my biggest goal. I hope to join them in Montreal within the next year and a half.’

(First published in the Wexford People newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.wexfordpeople.ie/lifestyle/gliding-her-way-to-the-big-top-34693967.html)

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