Eve Gordon, from The Dust Palace Circus School, gives us some insight into the world of circus.
Learning a new circus skill, whether it’s climbing and twisting in the silks, or juggling balls, is a highly physical task. It takes a mix of co-ordination, flexibility, balance and strength. More often than not, circus skills engage the whole body, making it an all rounded sport as well as a creative art.
But a major health benefit for the acrobatically inclined is the improvement in mental and social wellbeing.
The skills learnt in circus go deeper than the physical training. Tenacity, determination, commitment – these life skills mature faster when you’re 3 metres in the air!
Circus School: An Art Form Where Physical Strength Meets Creative Flair
Circus builds strength in all areas
A crucial part of circus school is mastering skills in a safe and supportive environment before celebrating that learning through creative performances.
At The Dust Palace circus school, students of all ages from all around Auckland learn skills such as acrobatics, aerial hoops and silks, handstands, and juggling. Parents, teachers, and kids have noticed that student’s confidence grows through classes and this confidence flows into school work too.
“There’s been a shift in attitude of 180 degrees,” said Jo Parker, whose child has become more engaged at school and commits to learning a task with the knowledge that there may be repetition and setbacks along the way.
Another parent found that her son had grown “from a shy teenager to a strong independent and confident young man,” after attending classes.
Students can take their training in circus to a new level and even find education and career pathways.
Connor Leech, a previous circus student now studies at Whitireia, the Tertiary Circus Training institute in Wellington. When he first gave circus a go, he achieved physical skills he “didn’t think possible.” Connor say that circus helps “build trust and confidence in yourself and others.”
Kids and teens can also take circus skills and apply them to academic life, and other sports and artforms.
Circus is a safe space to grow
When you walk into a circus gym, it looks a lot like a gymnastics class – with sturdy equipment all over and giant, soft mats on the ground.
Alongside specialist equipment, circus students also get the support of great teachers to guide and encourage them. Circus is an artform that builds trust among fellow performers.
When learning, you rely on each other to concentrate, protect or ‘spot’ each other and counter balance. You must be trustworthy and complete your side of the physical deal too.
On top of that, it’s an artform synonymous with diversity. Feeling safe is the starting point for creativity. A proper circus school focuses on creating an accepting and safe place for students. Positive reassurance and acceptance of all levels is key in making sure that students get to work on strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re looking for an afterschool activity for mind, body and spirit, step into the wonderful world of circus!
Eve Gordon is an aerial performer and owner of The Dust Palace circus school in Penrose, Auckland.