Behind the Curtain of Vietnam's Oldest Circus
Photographer Christian Rodriguez gets an inside look at the lives of circus performers in Vietnam.
Circuses are spectacles that enchant an audience. But for me the real magic happens behind the scenes. The daily life I witnessed backstage at two Vietnamese circuses—before, during, and after performances—was a captivating parallel to the performers’ onstage personas.
During three trips from 2009 to 2012, I spent eight months in Vietnam. When I saw a circus in Hanoi, I was fascinated by its glamour. But as I got to know the performers personally, I felt compelled to show another aspect—to dignify their work and document their dedication.
Gaining intimate access wasn’t easy: Circus artists prefer that people focus on their feats, not their lives. To win their confidence I had to go slowly. On my last trip I lived as they