Gemma Querida Kirby – The Human Cannonball
When asked how she’d want her personal legacy to read, Gemma Querida Kirby states she’d like to be remembered as someone who led a fascinating life and left a positive impact on the world. Well, if getting shot out of a cannon at the Greatest Show on Earth® is any indication of what is to come from the 24-year-old, we’d say she’s well on her way to achieving just that.
Born in Minneapolis, MN and having moved a total of 15 times as a child, Gemma seems to have been bred for circus life. Growing up, she not only livedeverywhere from her home state of Minnesota to South Dakota and even Alaska, she was often used to sharing a bedroom with her two sisters.
Gemma was homeschooled up until the 11th grade when she began to attend the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts. A young graduate (and valedictorian) at 16 years old, she enrolled at Circus Joventas in St. Paul to explore a new passion that crept into the center ring – the flying trapeze. It was here Gemma developed a love of the aerial arts and sought to combine her dance experience with a new kind of mid-air choreography. After four years working on the apparatus, she appeared in the 2011-2012 season of Big Apple Circus.
Though you’d see her staying fit on the road by running, doing Pilates and strength training, Gemma believes in challenging her mind along with her physicality. Obtaining her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2012, she feels confident that she would be working toward a graduate school degree involving American Sign Language (ASL) if she hadn’t joined the circus. To keep her mind/body connection sharp while on the road, however, she regularly practices yoga, ASL and plays the violin.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® marks the first time Gemma will attempt the Human Cannonball stunt. She considers this her biggest circus accomplishment to date, but hopes that she continues to advance her skill set as she meets new people while on the road.