Backstage at a traveling circus

Story highlights

  • Dutch photographer Wiesje Peels has followed several traveling circuses in Europe
  • The photos in her book "Mimus" capture a glimpse of the performers' "hidden life"
  • Her fascination with the circus began as a child, when she worked with her dad's one-man show

(CNN)Just outside of a white and yellow tent in Germany, an elephant heaves a heavy sigh. His ears are lowered, his skin relaxed -- his trunk arched into a final pose.

"That's my favorite part of the circus," Dutch photographer Wiesje Peels said. "When there's a moment, five minutes before (performers) get on and five minutes after they get