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Interview: Kadri Hansen and Life as a Cruise Ship Performer

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Originally published Dec 14, 2015

Kadri Hansen is a fearless and beautiful aerialist from Estonia. She has graciously agreed to be interviewed about her life as an aerial performer and to give us a glimpse into the world of a cruise ship performer. Thanks Kadri!


Photo by Maia Eskla

Tell us a bit about your circus background.

I got involved with circus, specifically in aerial acrobatics, when I was 8 years old, however my training hasn’t been constant nor have I had any technical training such as gymnastics or ballet. I have mainly achieved my skills through trial and error, with a lot of experimentation and invention. I have mostly trained in circus studios in my homeland Estonia but also in Canada and taken different movement based workshops to compliment the aerial skills.

How were you first introduced to circus?

When I was about 7 years old, I saw an Estonian aerialist performing an aerial hoop act, I believe it was one of the most mesmerizing things I've ever seen, not because it was technically that complex but more so because it seemed to me so otherworldly and novel.

What was your favourite show or act to perform in?

Photo by Siiri Kumari

Every act where I feel I have exceeded myself somehow is very dear to me. However, one of the memorable ones was about 3 years ago in Toronto during an event called Aer Time. This is an event where professional and semi professional aerialists get to showcase their works in progress for the audience feedback. I remember being very nervous, as the audience was only a few meters away and my act was based largely on the character I created and less on technical elements. I even prohibited the guy I dated to come and see me perform, as I was sure it wouldn’t be impressive enough. However, I managed to transform all of my fear and nervousness into a quite powerful act. At least it felt very right. Besides having the opportunity to hear the audience feedback for the first time in Toronto, the whole experience also proved me how I do what I do greatly to impress. Whether that is good or bad I don’t know.. but the guy who I did not allow to come and who did actually come in the last minute and saw my act, is now my boyfriend. : )

Photo by Siiri Kumari

What’s your favourite apparatus and why do you love it?

I do not have a favourite apparatus as I enjoy them all for different reasons. At the moment I feel the most comfortable on silks because I feel I’m able to improvise on it the best. I also know I am able to project different characters on silks the best. My second favourite apparatus would be the hoop, as contrary to silks, it is a very stable and firm equipment which doesn’t move nor flow with your body as silks. But in general I love everything that can be put in to the air.

Lately you’ve been doing contracts on cruise ships. What’s that like?

What I like the best working on the cruise ship is the fact that I get to do the same acts over and over again for several months in a row. I haven’t had this kind of opportunity much as I have mostly worked on one time projects and corporate events. Doing the same act, however, helps me discover new good and bad sides about myself as a performer both technically and mentally. I am also enjoying being part of the bigger show where I get to share the stage with talented Estonian / Russian dancers and singers or even better, we get to hang out all the time we are not performing. I haven’t really noticed anything negative for myself during the whole process. I know I won't be performing together with the same wonderful people forever which makes me see this whole experience as a very precious, novel and unique one.

Kadri backstage before cruise ship performance

What's your current training schedule/regime like?

I like to listen to my body when it comes to training during contracts where I need to perform daily, therefore my training schedule depends strongly on how injured my body feels. During the last months I would say I have trained approximately 4 – 6 days per week.

What’s your advice to someone interested in performing on cruise ships?

My advice is that anyone taking on any contract should think what is that they want to get out of it as a performer. I think cruise ships are the most suitable for people who really love what they do regardless of the reaction of the audience, as the audience and their feedback in the cruise ship differs every night.


Want to see more of Kadri? Visit her website at for videos, biography, and more beautiful photographs.

Photograph credits: Maia Eskla, Siirri Kumari, and Kadri Hansen.

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