Swinging back and forth hanging from the trapeze, fear rushes through her body. Wind blows through her hair as she removes her hands from the bar. She throws a layout and waits to be caught by her catcher.

Born into a circus family, senior Natasha Jill Cote grew up traveling the country in an RV. At a young age, she trained at Club Med to learn tricks for fun rather than focusing on a show. 

“The first time I took a trip to Club Med was the first time I caught my split,” Cote said.” It involved all my family; my sister was waiting next to me, my mom was holding my lines and my dad was hanging across the net watching me. We all had things we were proud of achieving that day and it was a very exciting beginning.”

At the age of 11, Cote’s parents started Trapeze Las Vegas, a school to teach a new generation of performers. Cote believes being involved from the start of the business has made her feel more connected to the business and learn more about working with people. 

“It is a privilege to raise children in the circus where everyone accepts each others differences, values and hard work from a young age,” mother Lisa Cote said.

After mastering swinging on the trapeze, Cote then proceeded to challenge herself with more advanced skills. The most difficult skill she has learned is a layout catch and return on the flying trapeze.

“Learning to run up to the top of the trampoline wall was one of my biggest goals,” Cote said. “I would practice running up the side of the wall and I was always too scared to lean forward and stand up on my own. It took me months but when I finally did it my coach was already clapping instead of spotting me because he knew I didn’t need help.”

Although most people see performing as nerve-racking, Cote believes performing is bittersweet. As soon as she steps out onto the stage, the music takes over her nervous thoughts.

“The biggest crowds I’ve performed in front of are at sports half time events with thousands of people,” Cote said “I’ve performed within the USA from San Francisco to New Jersey and I’ve also attended multiple auditions in Montreal and Vancouver. I was also in the Club Med flying trapeze demonstration in Cancun, Mexico.”

Although Cote considers the circus her main priority, her parents are pushing her to focus more on education.

“My requirements for the colleges I was looking at was that I would still somehow be in the circus,” Cote said. “Right now, my top school choice is Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. There is an aerial studio just a short ride away where I can plan to get back into all my training and even teach again if the opportunity arises. Besides that, I’m looking forward to being able to come back home to the circus family I have here.”

Aside from the tricks, Cote believes that the circus has taught her acceptance. Growing up open minded helped her see there is a place for everyone.

“Beyond my love for performing, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing those I teach succeed in confidence,” Cote said. “Even though I’m looking at colleges, I look for circus schools that are in the area so I can continue to train and teach. I couldn’t imagine my life without the sense of community the circus offers.”

Would you ever try trapeze?