“Everyone has something in their life that they feel is a burden. Mine is my disability, but nothing can stop you except for you,” says Queensland aerial performer Lauren Watson. “If you really want something go for it!”
After a car accident left her partially paralysed, and years of physio proved uninspiring, Lauren decided it was time for a change. Never giving up on her zest for life, the remarkable young woman decided to throw herself into something that would challenge and inspire her – the world of Aerial performance!
Despite many circus schools initially turning her away, and a physiotherapist who said he ‘didn’t think she could do it,’ Lauren found a performance school that was open and welcoming. That was three years ago, and since then the artist has performed in various shows, directed her own shoots, and even starred in a video clip for Sydney band Little Fox!
Over lunch one day at Wray Organics, Lauren brought me inside her ever-curious mind, sharing everything from the time she skydived in Hawaii, to her teenage dreams of being a rockstar, how she and her partner were set up, and her plans for the future! Be prepared to be inspired by the Queensland aerial performer defying her disability.
How did your journey into the world of Aerial Artistry begin?
I actually never really expected to do aerial, but I wanted to do something that wasn’t physiotherapy (because physiotherapy can get really boring). What I wanted was to find something that was really challenging and something that would force me to work really hard, like I would in physio – but more fun. I was keeping my eyes open and looking around for stuff, and one day during school holidays [I came across] an aerial demonstration of a girl on a hoop. I was watching it and thinking, ‘wow that looks really, really hard. I’m actually going to see if I can do that!’ It was that simple. I wanted to do something challenging, and I thought, ‘if I can do that, I can do anything.’
Have you always loved pursuing things that are particularly challenging?
I think so. I’ve always loved learning new things. When I was 14 I actually taught myself how to play guitar, because I really wanted to learn. [Then later on] I really wanted to learn graphic design – so I taught myself and then studied it. I like to push myself to see how far I can [push my mind], and I knew whatever I was going to pick I wasn’t going to stop. When I started I really didn’t know what to expect – I didn’t even know if I could do it. But I kinda…I was so curious that I didn’t even care. I just had to try it!
“I do pretty much everything that everyone else does. I went skydiving in Hawaii!”
What year was it when you had the accident and when you began aerial work?
I had my accident in 2000, and I started aerial in 2012.
So you really had been trying physio for a long time with very little results?
Yeah. With physio and my disability, you plateau a lot. You can work really hard but [there’s only so much] your body’s going to give you. I always felt like physio kind of made me feel like I had a disability – it was…(pauses)
Kind of like a chore?
Exactly. It wasn’t fun. In the past I did have a physio who made it fun – we’d gossip and talk about music and I really enjoyed going there – but then we moved. I’ve always been a really curious person [so I began aerial work]. I think the first time I tried it I really couldn’t do anything, all I could do was hold myself up in the air. I had a lot of upper body strength so I guess I was one step ahead of most people, but I couldn’t tell my brain how to use my legs. I think me obsessing over it kind of kept me going. I had to tell my brain, “you need to move your legs this way.” I really wanted to do that first basic thing, so I had to keep pushing myself to get there. I did plateau a lot, but when I finally got there it was the best feeling! I was like, “If I can do this, what else can I do?”