Dentist by Day, Circus Performer by Night – Helps with Filming

Elsie Liontou in two very different roles.

Elsie Liontou in two very different roles.

Elsie Liontou in two very different roles.

At My Story, readers share their unique, life-changing experiences. This week we hear from Elsie Liontou, 36, who lives in Aberdeen.

When I’m on the silks I stop thinking about anything else. I’m not thinking about my daily routine, I won’t be thinking about my problems or what I have to do at work tomorrow. All I think is: my hand should go there, my arm should go there, my legs should go there. I put some music in the background and just streamed.

Most of my patients don’t know that after I leave the practice, I will become a circus performer and trainer.

By day I am the head doctor of Bupa Dental Care Cove Bay in Aberdeen. I work on a mixed practice of NHS and private dentistry and my book will be pretty full from day to day. I ignore other dentists and do everything from routine appointments to full oral rehabs and Invisalign treatments. I work from 8:30 am to 5 pm and then I start my second passion, the circus.

I tried pole dancing as a hobby in the past but my hands were so sweaty and I was worried about slipping off the pole! It wasn’t for me. I was looking for something similar when I moved to the UK from Greece – to de-stress, stay fit and connect with people after the move. I attended my first aerial performance class about eight years ago and fell in love with it.

Elsie hangs out at the circus.

Elsie hangs out at the circus.

Elsie hangs out at the circus.

I didn’t find it that hard, I won’t lie. And I was never afraid. I have a ballet background and competed in dance competitions in Greece when I was younger, so I think it helped me a lot to be a little more flexible. But I had no upper body strength – nothing! This was definitely a challenge for me.

A year later, me and two friends founded our own circus and pole fitness studio, Inverted. I am now a qualified air silk and hoop instructor and spend evenings and weekends teaching. I have two children aged four and two and have developed many classes for children, so we teach young learners from 18 months to 18 years on Saturdays and Sundays.

Still, performance is my passion. We organize corporate events, charities, shows of all kinds. One of the biggest was at Teca, an arts venue in Aberdeen, and we recreated The Greatest Showman.

I put on so much makeup I thought no one would recognize me, but while I was getting ready for the show, one of my patients walked through the wrong door. He took a double shot and said, “This is my dentist!” It was so funny.

I’m proud of what I do and it’s definitely rewarding when having a tooth extraction. Someone might comment on your arms – “Oh, you’re pretty strong” – and I say, “Yeah, I’m exercising” and sometimes I tell them about it. People often find it fascinating.

It’s hard to balance everything with two kids, but I think it’s doable. About three weeks after giving birth to my first baby, I went back to the studio and initially my daughter was always with me. She now attends classes and loves it.

You need a support system to make it work and you definitely need a partner to be involved. You should sit down and do a show together, and I make sure my husband gets some free time to himself, because I think that’s really important. I got a lot of support from my family while my husband was also working at sea. My mom came from Greece to help me with the kids, and most evenings she leaves the house and takes the train to say “bye!”

When you have a baby for the first time, or even the second time, I think one of the biggest challenges is motivation to act. You feel like you want to stay at home and you don’t want to leave them. But one thing I have to say is that it really, really helped my sanity.

Every time I go to the studio I will come back with a big smile and actually have a lot more energy. You don’t want to go home and be grumpy.

If you want to try the circus or a new hobby in the new year, I say give it a try. In particular, we have a lot of women who say, “This is not for me because I don’t have a body yet” or “I don’t have the strength”.

But if you come to an introductory class, you’ll find that a lot of people have no idea what to do – this is perfectly normal. You will either love it or feel that this is not the hobby for you. But you’ll never know until you try.

Elsie was interviewed by Rachel Moss and her answers have been edited for length and clarity. To be featured in HuffPost UK’s My Story series, email

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