Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Happy stories: trapeze mum

I wrote this happy story, about a high flying mum, as an antidote to the frustrations of trying to make sense of the 'hard news' leads I am following. Happy stories can be interesting and informative to read, and fun to write, and bring blessings to all involved! Also, showing other lifestyles can be as effective an agent of change as telling people to live better. I will do more of them.

Trapeze Mum original copy
By Russell Honeyman
March 19, 2010, corr March 23, published March 27

A high-flying Brighton mum returned to her dream job as a trapeze artist and is facing up to the changes brought on by the birth of her first child.

Aerialist Hazel Maddocks gave her last public performance dangling from a rope 20 feet off the ground, two months after her daughter, Mea Maeve, was conceived. Hazel, 35, of Hollingdean, Brighton, gave birth to Mea on July 1, 2009, at home in a water pool.  Eight weeks after the birth, she was back in training. Now, eight months later, she is within 80% of her pre-pregnancy strength. She is teaching aerial performance on trapeze, ropes and silks to children and adults in Lewes and Brighton, and is applying for funding to stage a cabaret and children’s circus show in Lewes.

“I’m still battling to get the balance of being a working mum,” she said. “It’s hard to manage when you’re not living close to your family.”

Hazel is self-employed in her own company, Zu Aerial Dance, and is part of the Firecracker Circus, Lewes.  She gives lessons at the sports centre at Falmer University, and the All Saints Centre in Lewes, where the ropes, silks and bar hang from the high rafters of the converted church. She worked right through her pregnancy, giving lessons, then doing admin, and starting training again after the birth.

Some people might think trapeze is a risky job for a new mum. Hazel said: “My mum does think this job is very risky. But then any physical job is risky. Having a child makes you think about it. It is dangerous, and it’s too easy to become complacent, even experienced people can forget to tighten karabiners (safety clips), or experience equipment failure. But this is what I do and I just try to be mindful always.”

“When you have a child you loose so much of yourself. I need to maintain who I am other than being a mummy. I hope Mea will be inspired by what I’m doing, to do the things she wants to do in life.  I’ve been taking her into the studio since she was eight weeks old. [Laughs]. Who knows maybe she’ll be a banker.”

Hazel trained as a dancer. She re-trained as an aerial artist six years before her pregnancy. “One of the really difficult things was letting my body go,” she said. “I was just starting to get to a professional level, when I noticed my body clock ticking away. It was really scary to let go of my professional standing.

“I’m still missing 10-20% of my abdominal strength. But the good thing is that I managed to teach throughout my pregnancy, that didn’t involve any heavy physical work, so training has become my secure income. The teaching has become a real blessing. It’s great showing people how to do things they thought they could never do.

“I was desperate to become a performer, but teaching has become a comfortable nest. And now I’m less desperate, the performance side is really developing. Since having my baby, I’m getting some of my best work.”

You can learn more about Hazel’s work at or search for Zu Aerial in

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