Sunset Talent

The Sunset Contortionist

By Kari Vides

Imagine eyes focused on you and lights shining down so brightly every drop of sweat on your forehead is illuminated. For Sunset District resident, Dwoira Galilea, multi-disciplinary circus performer, this is just another normal “day at the office.” Except her office is never stationary and is always eventful. 

Galilea has a multitude of talents that have made her marketable to several performing companies, which is how she has made her living. She is currently employed with the company Circus Bella. 

Galilea’s skill is the art of contorting her body. 

Dwoira Galilea, a Sunset District resident, has made a career as a contortionist. Courtesy photo by Daisy Rose Coby.

As a young child, raised in Coney Island, New York, Galilea’s major influences came from her childhood. She lived in very artistic household. 

“My mom was a huge influence on me,” she said.  “She would take my sister and me to see Broadway shows. We would go wait in line at six in the morning to get tickets and try to get all the deals to see as many shows as possible. We saw a lot of music, dance and theater.”

Galilea had always been interested in testing the limits of her body’s physical abilities.

“From the age of nine I knew I was curious about physical stuff,” she said. “I liked movement and I was very interested in the performing arts in general – theater, dance, singing, all of those kinds of things.” 

At age 11, Galilea attended a performing arts camp and joined the circus program. Her primary interest was in theater, but she decided to dabble in the circus program as it piqued a deep interest.

“I continued dabbling there for the next seven summers after that, up until I graduated high school. And at some point, a little before I graduated high school, I started wanting to pursue it a little more outside of camp.”

Galilea chose to train her body throughout the entire year, instead of only for the summer. 

“I became really interested in being in shape, especially since I would spend all year deconditioned and then get to camp and be extremely sore. The first week would be brutal,” Galilea said. “I wanted to be ready, I wanted to be more advanced, and this ended up guiding the course of my life.” 

The life of a performer takes hours of rigorous training and maintaining a strict regimen to keep the body in shape. In Galilea’s line of work, it is even more imperative for her to continue her exercise routines, especially as a contortionist. The glamour of performing does not hide the grueling effects of putting your body through such tough conditions. 

“I may not have always been the ideal body type,” she said. “Body image was already a tough one. I struggled with eating disorders and getting into the right physique.”

There are many hardships that go along with making a profession out of performing. However difficult it may have gotten, Galilea said she has worked very hard to build a positive and healthy mindset to continue in her career. 

“It’s really hard and not for everyone, but I persevered even when things didn’t look so bright,” she said. “I was able to learn what I needed to in the industry and I’m grateful for it.”

Galilea has traveled all over the world touring with performing companies and worked with different coaches who have helped guide her career. 

“When I moved to San Francisco and joined Circus Bella, I was opened to different and new opportunities,” Galilea said. 

The conception of Circus Bella began with an idea and a passion for performance. The program’s director, Abigail Munn, and a former circus performer, David Hunt, had the idea to build a company that would eventually tour major cities. Beginning with weekly meetings on Valencia and 22nd streets, it is now a well-known production with a family of talented performers. 

“It is a very supportive community,” Galilea said. “Whether you are seeing people at a circus gym or at a rehearsal, or even just seeing people at a gig, there is definitely this camaraderie. People are generally just sharing information and helping each other out. The family within the circus performer communities is always willing to lend a hand to one another.  

“I love what I do. Getting to do what I love is huge. Besides the performing and the training, I love getting ready,” she said. “The hair, the makeup – it’s all so enjoyable. And connecting with the audience is amazing and making people feel like the impossible is possible is just a very rewarding career.” 

Dwoira Galilea is continuing her tour with Circus Bella and can be seen in various productions in the Bay Area. For more information, go to circusbella.org.

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