Nate James

Damn everything but the circus. -e.e. Cummings



It all started when...

I was riding my bike to work one morning. The unthinkable happened, as I approached a busy intersection at the bottom of a famously steep hill in San Francisco, I noticed a taxi on the far left, turn right pulling out in front of the other three lanes of traffic, as the light turned green. I instinctively squeezed my handlebar breaks and, in what seemed like slow motion, felt my rear tire lifting off the ground and and my body becoming weightless. Whilst in the air I noticed several things. The First of which being the trajectory of my face towards the pavement aligning discomfortingly with the trajectory of the taxi into the bike lane. The second, this feeling of floating through the air, though in its current context was terrifying, was also somehow exhilarating. And the third, because there wasn't time to think anymore after this, was a dissatifaction that I had left my coffee on the counter at home. As my face became better acquainted with the pavement my legs found there way up over my head to a position I now know to be called "pretzel", and then immediately retracted to a prone laying position in the middle of the intersection. It was then that I noticed my eyes were tightly sealed shut. I took one deep breath, and then decided it was over I could open them. Just as I did so I saw the first set of tires as they reached my shoulder and continued on to my wrist, then realizing there was a second set to follow, and that I was squarely positioned beneath the taxi so that the back of my legs were having the same experience.

It took about a year of rest, rehabilitation, and healing before I was walking and moving a bit again. It was then that a friend suggested a stretching class at a local circus gym that accepted all levels, and focused on straightening and lengthening the muscles in the legs. After a month or so the instructor suggested a handstand class for stabilization rehabilitation of my shoulder and wrist, and in turn, that instructor suggested aerial classes for balancing my "pushing" and "pulling" muscles. Over the next year, this snowball effect became some what of an obsession for me, I even began to teach classes myself for extra money and more training. One day, I decided I wanted to backpack through Europe, and what better way to pay for such and excursion then to use my new skills and busk. So, off I went spreading circus and joy through 16 different countries that year. I returned home and to teaching and training, and as I continued to train and improve others started to notice, and one day Master Lu Yi himself came up to me and told me he wanted to work with me. I began to improve more and more then was offered an opportunity to study and teach circus in Budapest, Hungary. I spent another year soaking up all the knowledge and skill I could while there and then returned state-side and after a few months at home was offered a 6 month contract with Cirque du Soleil, at a resident installation in a high end resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I am now back home in San Francisco and continuing to train, teach, and perform.

My experiences in all of these incredible opportunities have shaped me as an artist, professional, and a human being. I feel blessed that such a seemingly devastating experience serendipitously transformed my life into this whimsical journey of discovery, entertainment, and inspiration.