The circus has come to town!
More focus and quicker thinking; improved coordination and better maths … who knew circus skills could achieve so much?! We talked to JL Circus in North London
Q: Why do you do circus skills – and what has it given you?
A: My friends didn’t take my circus skills seriously – they thought it’s all about clowns and animals in horrible cages. But when you’re juggling or balancing, you’re very focussed and you have to get into the zone.
I didn’t have much hand-to-eye coordination before but I’m good at maths, so I use numbers and do equations in my head to help me with the rhythm. It’s hard to explain – but when I’m juggling I basically throw one ball when I count two and catch at three…
Through JL Circus I also got to successfully audition for the London Youth Circus (for 11-25 year-olds) – doing the trapeze — and I started in September! (Inaya – 11)
A: I was confident before though not in big groups, but I don’t mind going in front of 1,300 at a school assembly now and I’m also on the JL Youth Board. We meet a couple of times a month to pitch ideas.
I’ve been coming for three years to circus and theatre skills and am doing things I wouldn’t normally do: trapeze, juggling (which I’m not so good at!) and improvisation, which can really keep a show moving. I’m mixing with people I wouldn’t normally meet, including someone from Scotland at the National Circus Space summer school that four of us went to.
It’s fun and in the senior group you get to learn about leadership and are encouraged to control a group of people and guide them through what they should be doing. (Adam - 15)
A: I’ve more confidence now to show the fun side of my personality – like when I’m flying off the trapeze! And when we do the drama I’ve learned to shout out my ideas in a more creative way, so if I’m doing a reading in school I can make it more entertaining.
We went to see a show with the group –Smashed – which was amazing; I loved it, there was loads of puns and secret messages. That’s something I wouldn’t have thought to do before, when I would more likely read at home in my room or listen to music.
I also think the Arts Council Award Scheme we did looks really good for a child my age, especially as I don’t come from the best of areas in London. (D’Avion – 14)
Q: Have you got any top tips?A: When you’re juggling you have to throw the first ball in the air, and when you think it’s going to start to drop you throw the second one up. You start with two and progress – I’m on three now. You need to concentrate and practise with whatever you can. (Berkam – 9)
A: I get distracted at school, but if you want to balance something you need to focus. To balance a peacock feather on your finger or forehead you need to keep looking at the eye. (Amy – 10)
A: Stilt walking is the hardest so you have to keep moving and your eye on a certain object. You have to work as a team as one person leads the other at first to stop them crashing. (Jamalah – 11)
A: You have to walk like a penguin to get your balance on the stilts. You need your arms by your side and feet moving one at a time: left, right, left, right. (Hulya – 10)
Q: So, what’s been the best thing so far?
A: Learning the basics of doing magic tricks. And doing acrobatics, like when we do the pyramid: older ones at the bottom and the younger ones on top. (Nia – 8)
A: Walking on stilts by myself and balancing on them so I can catch a ball at the same time. My goal would be to juggle with three balls. (Nasteha – 9)
A: Stilts! Everybody likes them. I feel confident from being up high and it was a new thing to try. I balance on anything I see now when I’m out, a bit of rope – anything! (Zerda – 10)
A: Hula-hooping, which I was good at before, but I’m better now; balancing on stilts, juggling… I used to like the Wii or video games before, but I prefer these more active things now. (Melda – 10)
A: My favourite is being up in the air on the stilts, it’s like being a giant or flying. I wanted to join since seeing my brother in the display last year – walking forwards, backwards, sideways on the stilts and spraying water at the audience. (Chyla – 8)