• performer standing on stilts in costume
  • performers doing acrobatic stunt
  • performers doing acrobatic stunt

Gamma Phi Circus alumna Margret Ebert ‘09 has spent the past ten years doing what she loves: traveling and performing. After her time at Illinois State, she became involved in an acrobatics and comedy performance troupe called Barely Balanced.

“I was training on my own for a while and went with some friends to the Bristol Renaissance Faire where I saw the show. We introduced ourselves after, started talking, and it just worked out nicely that I got the opportunity to audition and get involved. Now I’ve been performing and traveling for ten years,” said Ebert.

Barely Balanced has traditionally performed at renaissance festivals and outdoor settings, incorporating bits of comedy, acrobatics, and circus props into every show. Ebert says her group has learned a lot this year, especially about technology, social media, and moving the show to an online space.

“I truly have learned an appreciation for people who make their entire living from online platforms. During COVID, it became so important that we learned how to stay connected with people and perform virtually. People used to be able to see our show then visit online to get more out of it, now it’s everything,” she said.

The group now performs via Zoom, putting on shows for parties and groups. They have also performed and donated to charities that assist people working at renaissance festivals. In her time spent at Illinois State, Ebert majored in theatre and specialized in costume design. She was ultimately drawn into Gamma Phi by the encouraging and welcoming community dynamic.

“When I first showed up, I had no idea what I wanted to do, no background in gymnastics, and struggled with everything. I was encouraged by so many people to come back and keep going, and I think that’s the best thing about Gamma Phi Circus. There is a fierce sense of community that people have in that group,” she said.

Some of her favorite acts that she was a part of in her Gamma Phi days included clowning, trapeze, and silks. While Ebert remembers the great moments in and out of the gym, one of her favorite memories was always the time after the big performance at the end of each season.

“When we all got together at the end, I knew I was a part of something bigger than me. After working on all the acts, going through all the magic of learning a new skill, it’s the feeling at the end of the performance that always got me,” she said.

Despite the setbacks and new performing environment that COVID-19 sparked, Ebert is hopeful for the future and looks forward to continuing her group’s performances.

“It will be interesting to see how the entertainment business will continue to be affected by COVID. We are very lucky that some festivals have started to open in a modified way, but I think all of 2020 will look very different for the entertainment industry. I love all the support we have received at this time and hope it continues.” She adds, “If you like entertainment, go out and show your support. Show people that it’s worth the fight to continue performing even in these difficult times.”

Interested in getting involved in Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State, or simply want to know more? Check out their website for additional information. To learn more about Barely Balanced, check out their website .