Ess Hödlmoser

Ess Hödlmoser (they/he) is an award-winning trans non-binary Canadian circus artist, writer, and stunt actor specializing in contortion & aerial straps. Their work blends the acrobatic body with text, video, and dance to examine the relationship between risk and spectacle, trans identity and gender performance, and the fine line between what we consider beautiful and what we find grotesque. When Ess isn’t in the air or balancing on their hands, they’re sometimes on your TV screen as an ACTRA stunt performer or actor in shows like The Boys and Motherland: Fort Salem, or lending their voice to UBISOFT games like Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Along with fabulous former duo partner Troy James, Ess’s contortion work received international recognition on stages like the 40th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, the International China Circus Festival, the Moulin Rouge, La France A Un Incroyable Talent, the Circusnext platform, and more. Ess’s experimental and intersectional solo creations have been made possible with robust support from the Canada Council for the Arts. You can find Ess’s last project, VACUUM (2020), here; and his latest project is a new work on aerial straps examining the century-old legacy of gender-bending celebrity Barbette in the context of contemporary trans rights. 

As a coach, Ess loves to help students and artists of all levels access mobility in sustainable ways, wherever they’re at in their flexibility journey. It shouldn’t hurt! And it doesn’t have to. You can expect attention to sensory sensitivities, neurodivergent accessibility, and 
lots of communication and detail in Ess’s classes.  

Read about adventures of past circus and film contracts (and their intersections with gender identity, mental health, autism, and more) and support Ess’s work at Or, check out Ess’s zines and artists’ books at  Catch Ess spinning on Instagram or oversharing vlogging on Tiktok at @strangewonderfulcreature

Rebecca Solomon