My circus story

Hello and welcome to my page. I am dr. Fleur van Rens, a university lecturer and researcher at Murdoch University in Perth (Australia). I fell in love with circus during a holiday in 2011, when I saw incredible aerialists perform jaw dropping skills in the streets of Montreal during the annual Jazz Festival. After seeing a flying trapeze act on the river side, I had the chance to talk with an artist. I mentioned I was mesmerized by the breath-taking show and said, ‘where can I train to do this, because I would love to try it!’. He asked about my sports background (trampoline), and to my astonishment he then said, ‘if you come back in an hour, I will teach you’. A bit nervous, I came back an hour later. After doing some basics on the ground, I was strapped into a safety harness, and jumped off the platform to swing through the sky. I am forever grateful for this wonderful first circus experience.

Fleur on flying trapeze

A year later, I broke my ankle during trampoline training. This injury forced me to find a new form of physical activity while I moved from the Netherlands to Australia to pursue my PhD in sports psychology. I decided to try lyra (aerial hoop), and instantly loved it.  Soon, I began training more and more, and the friendly circus community became my home away from home. After achieving my PhD, I continued to train circus skills at various schools across the globe, dependent on where I lived at the time. I also got to perform in a few amateur shows.

When I moved to Perth to work at Murdoch University, I began to chase my dream to combine my passion for circus and psychology. My circus research stream was born, in which I investigate factors that facilitate the well-being, mental health, safety, and performance of circus artists. Today, I still train lyra and aerial acrobatics, but I also enjoy floor acrobatics such as Chinese pole.

My education

  • 2012-2016 PhD in Sports Psychology at Victoria University (Australia)
  • 2009-2010 MSc. in Social Psychology at Tilburg University (Netherlands)
  • 2008-2009 MSc. in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Bangor University (Wales)
  • 2005-2008 BSc. in Psychology at Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Professional memberships and accreditation

  • I am an invited member of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare (ASPAH) For more information see
  • I am a Mental Health First Aid Australia accredited mental health first aid instructor. For more information see


  • Native: Dutch
  • Fluent: English
  • Basic: French, German