Penn Live Arts Blog

5 Questions with Connor Houlihan

Posted September 30, 2022


We’re thrilled to welcome Machine de Cirque for their Philadelphia debut on October 2. The Québec-based group known for their “immensely gifted performers…and spectacular routines,” (The Boston Globe) will perform its newest work La Galerie. Leading up to the troupe’s exhilarating debut, we connected with ensemble member Connor Houlihan to learn more about the Minnesota native in just five questions.

1) What first got you into circus arts?
I was born with one functioning kidney and was not able to play contact sports growing up. Of course, there were sports that were available to me, but I found a youth circus program in Minnesota (Circus Juventas), and it ended up being my outlet.

2) What is your earliest memory of circus arts?
Being incredibly frustrated at learning how to unicycle! (But I never gave up and now I can unicycle!)

3) What inspires you to create?
Anything and everything. I'm a big fan of music, cinema and live entertainment in general. I could end up going to a live show of some kind and seeing or hearing something that I might latch onto... Maybe walking through a museum or seeing a painting that could inspire me to create some new apparatus. The possibilities are endless, you just have to keep your eyes open and have an open mind.

4) What is your process?
I feel that I work best with other people. It's hard for me to sit down and just "create". I enjoy having one or more people around to bounce ideas off of, building on what we come up with together.

5) Name a few artists you love that everyone should check out.
Stromae (Belgian musician)
Polo & Pan (French musicians)
Murcof (Mexican musician)
Punchdrunk Entertainment (UK-based live entertainment company)

Bonus Question: Do you have a lucky ritual?
My partners and I do a group hug before taking the stage - non-negotiable!

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