Who are you?

I’m known by a few different names depending on how people know me! Emily, Imly – a nickname from the first PWB India tour as in Hindi ‘Emily’ sounds very close to ‘Imly’ (tamarind), which the children we worked with found amusing. People who have performed with me may know me as Tilly – I came up with my performance alter ego Tilly Twist during the first India tour as well! I am a full-time circus performer and teacher and have been involved with PWB since it’s inception, as a volunteer, trustee, advisor, tour coordinator and manager. 

Team Nicaragua line up

What memory have you most revisited from a tour?

There are so many! Honestly, I’m not sure I have revisited one more than any of the others. I think the moments that have stuck with me most are of children managing something for the first time, seeing them believe in themselves and grow in confidence – that can happen during a workshop session, solo practise, or a show.  Other memories that stick with me are to do with the great team bonding experiences and connections made during tours. I have celebrated my birthday 4 times on tour, each a memorable occasion!

Watching the show at Los Quinchos in Nicaragua

What areas or aspects of the tour challenged you the most?

I found managing a team quite challenging at times, trying to make sure everyone is happy and lead just enough but not too much – which is different with every team! The day to day challenges tend to be more fun – working out how to make a show work when the space is too small, or what to do when you don’t have enough kit for a workshop session because more students want to learn than expected.  Negotiating cultural differences and cultivating a good understanding of how other countries and cultures work is an interesting challenge that usually comes up at least once on tour!

On the tour what was your biggest achievement?

I struggle to think of a biggest achievement on tour but I’d say that keeping PWB running for 10 years with fairly minimal input from others for most of that time counts high on the list of big achievements for me, it didn’t seem like much at all at the time but suddenly there we were celebrating 10 years of being an organisation and I had a fair amount to do with us making it that far.

Stilt workshop in collaboration with national artists in Nicaragua

What was your kids show about?

I’ve been part of 4 different PWB shows – we’ve had naughty school kids, cleaning ladies, snakes and snake charmers and magicians, which gives you some idea of how different and imaginative the shows can be on tour!

What was your biggest breakthrough with teaching?

I’m not sure if it happened on a PWB tour or not, but finding what I consider to be a fairly foolproof method of teaching 3 ball juggling was definitely a good breakthrough. It took a few years of trying things out! I also count every time I’m reminded to be flexible in my teaching approach (usually by a student or fellow teacher) as a moment to take stock and consider how I teach and if there are other ways to explain or demonstrate things.

How did you fundraise for the tour?

I have done a few different things to fundraise but I think the most memorable and fun was a 12-hour hoop-a-thon. I hula hooped for 12 hours with just one 15 minute stop to eat and a few brief toilet breaks in between!  I also organised a yearly cabaret show in Brighton for about 5 years which were some very fun events.

First-ever PWB crew! (minus Jonny) 

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