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The Keys to Always Moving Forward as an Artist

Krin Hagland
By Martin Frenette

“The whole thing just captured my imagination, especially the women high up in the air!”

Nearly four decades have passed since Krin Haglund first stepped inside a circus tent, but enthusiasm fills her voice and brightens her face as it probably did on that memorable day. Looking back at twenty years spent on a broad variety of stages and sets, this vibrant woman describes her career as a constant quest to celebrate everyone’s individuality and uniqueness as much as what makes her stand out when standing on stage. The Wisconsin native also sees her profound love for storytelling as the thread that embroils this quest and allows her to keep on growing as an artist.

Lasting in the industry, having a plan, and thinking ahead are common discussion topics and recurrent causes of insomnia for those who like to perform. It is therefore surprising to hear that this former high wire walker turned TV actress never stopped to reflect on those: “As a tall, bald woman who got into circus training late, I’ve never fit the mold, but I went for it anyway. Creation and inspiration drove me from one part to the next. I wanted to work for Cirque Eloize, the 7 Fingers, and Cirque du Soleil. I checked all three in my diary and thought ‘now what?” she concludes in a frank and contagious laugh.

Krin Hagland

Never aspiring to be a “one-trick wonder” nor to be known as that one signature act in the corporate event world, the mother of two has been trading hats and roles to ensure that she’d stayed inspired and challenged. A perfect standing back tuck and a quadruple pirouette don’t teach you how to be present on stage or how to truly connect with an audience, nor what a company members’ hard work is like. Focusing and finding what one really wants is as vital as understanding that those needs are meant to evolve the longer an artistic career lasts. Plans are bound to change and artists have to face the unpredictable. Therefore, tangible goals and a defined set of values are tremendously helpful tools that can stabilize artists on their journey.

“Making audiences laugh as an aerialist was one of my very first goals. I’ve always wanted to express myself, using my alopecia allowed me to develop something unique to me. Integrating personal stories to the practice of circus arts was another method and having been simultaneously trained in aerial disciplines and clowning at San Francisco’s Circus Center and Clown Conservatory made it very natural.”

There is something about the way Krin holds her head and projects her voice to whom she’s talking to that suggests some forms of theatrical confidence and knowledge. Comedy and acting took an important place in the young artist’s life as she polished her characters with internationally known clowns and directors, culminating with her encounter with Daniele Finzi Pasca. In Cirque Éloize’s Rain, the Swiss-Italian director guided her, taught her that circus and characters are alike as both can tell the same stories in their own way.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Loze

“Every clown and every artist has something to share. The rhythm differs from one to the next, but the breath, the beat, and the connection with the audience remain.”

Too many artists neglect the latter one to focus solely on their technique, unaware that tricks don’t matter in the end. TV’s Big Top Academy’s cast member is a firm believer that truly moving performances are not about the tricks nor the part, but about what it means to who’s performing them. Acting also taught her that audiences respond more to an artist who cares and goes out of their way to reach the spectator.

“I wish circus artists would spend more time on the various performance aspects and less on their technique. I rapidly made peace with the fact that I’d never be the best acrobat or aerialist, which freed me to focus on creation and more character-driven parts, finding other ways to connect with audiences along the way.”

Krin Hagland

Photo by Anita Bombita

There is a level of unease in every creation process because one does not know what they really want. To every acrobat, actor, and other artists out there, Krin urges you to take time and honor that in-between space when the next step is somewhat of a question mark. Whether it’s because the creation process took an unexpected turn or because there are no confirmed gigs coming up, those moments of not knowing can teach as much as an 8-show week.

“Learn from each experience, pay attention, stay true to who you are. That is how artists grow and can keep on reinventing themselves.”

As the sun comes out from behind a cloud and enlightens her face, the inspired artist briefly shares her enthusiasm over directing a one-woman show for a Canadian contortionist. She admits to feeling better when she’s busy but also knows that every artist must replenish themselves and therefore has learned to accept the unpredictable waves of busy and creativity that have allowed her to constantly grow both on and off stage.

Lastly, 7 Fingers’ former MC offers this one piece of advice: find what manifests a good, creative spirit and inspiration will follow. A bunch of mini-projects can feed one’s inspiration and save a creative mind, especially in quiet times. Waiting for projects to come is the worst, that is why artists must create their own work, do little things here and there, have their own deadlines.

Also by Martin Frenette:

Diana – A New Musical: Netflix Release BEFORE Broadway Debut!

Advice for Performers: Read Your Contract!

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