How a circus performer got back in the ring after losing her lower legs

Erin Ball talks about her rehabilitation journey and about the freedom she's discovered in performing without her prostheses.

Watch the extraordinary story of Erin Ball

Losing her legs could not stop circus artist Erin Ball from getting off the ground

7 years ago
Duration 3:19
Featured VideoAfter suffering the loss of both lower legs, it was love of the circus and intense training that made Erin Ball want to carry on.

Erin Ball had been performing as a circus artist for nine years before an accident in the woods in 2014 led to the emergency amputation of her legs below the knee. After learning how to walk again — a painful rehabilitation process that had Ball in the hospital for months — she was determined to return to her passion for circus performing.

Imade a decision that I wanted to get out of the hospital and I wanted to live, and for me, living includes circus.- Erin Ball

In May 2016, just two years after her accident, the Kingston, Ont.-born Ball collaborated with fellow circus artists in the week-long Circus Sessions workshop at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre to choreograph her astounding first performance on aerial silks. During her performance, her prosthetic legs are removed and she dances, climbs and hangs from fabric 10 feet in the air.

In this segment, CBC Arts met Ball at a rehearsal for Circus Sessions 2016. She talks about her rehabilitation journey and about the freedom she's discovered in performing without her prostheses.  

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.


Mercedes Grundy is a producer for CBC's Unscripted division. She has played an integral role in the creation of series like Exhibitionists, The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag as well as special projects like Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Grundy 5 Canadian Screen Awards. She has an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC.