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The World on Circus: December 2013

Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal Ladies on The Ellen Show. December 3.

The Word on Circus: November 2013

Performers without Borders recently posted a video from its trip to Granada, Nica, in early 2013.

Brattleboro native’s documentary reveals beauty, art of the circus industry. November 1, 2013. By Brattleboro Reformer newspaper.

[Angela Snow] said her film follows five top circus acts from around the world to the Monte-Carlo Circus Festival, which she described as the industry’s equivalent of The Sundance Film Festival or the Olympics. She said it lifts the veil on the history, culture and behind-the-scenes life of the circus on an international scale through interviews with the founder of the Big Apple Circus, the owner of Ringling Bros. Circus, and the artistic director of Cirque du Soleil.

Watch the trailer:

Visit the World Circus website: http://worldcircusculturemovie.com/

A unique circus school in Palestine. November 14, 2013. On gulfnews.com.

For Shadi Zmorrod, it began as a love for juggling. Soon, the Palestinian Circus School took shape, and now he is aiming for a wider social impact.

Circus performer brings message performance to Northfield. November 2, 2013. On Glencoe News.

Born in Awasa, Ethiopia, Tamrat and other children in the village had little to no food to eat. At the age of 8, Meshu and his peers formed the Debub Nigat (Southern Dawn) Circus. The circus performed in the town market as a way to earn money for food.

The Circus Project. November 29, 2013. The Oregonian.

“Gradually, I got a lot stronger. I could do pull-ups, which was really exciting! As things have progressed, I have more confidence in the way that I carry myself, not only up in the air but also just in the world around me.”

Fruit Flies at Sydney Opera House

The Flying Fruit Fly Circus will be performing at the Sydney Opera House in January 2014. For more information click here.

The Word on Circus: September 2013

Studio to Boost Dance, Circus Skill

Stuff.co.nz. September 9, 2013.

Christchurch could become the dance and circus capital of Australasia if a custom-designed performance and studio space included in rebuild plans comes to fruition. The proposed performance and studio complex could draw circus performers back to the city and provide a home for Christchurch’s nearly 400 dance groups, many of whom have been operating out of garages and sheds since the earthquakes.

Remembering the Lewis Brothers Circus based in Jackson, Michigan

Michigan Radio. September 5, 2013.

In 1929, Paul and Mae Lewis founded the Lewis Bros. Circus. The traveling circus was based in Jackson, Michigan and traveled throughout the state. They even went to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, dazzling small towns with exotic creatures and acrobats. Grace Wolbrink has put together a collection of stories from the Lewis family.

Magic in Motion 

A multimedia styled video

San Jose Mercury News. September 3, 2013.

In opening a number of South Bay performances, the internationally acclaimed Circus Vargas troupe recently transformed the Great Mall parking lot into a magical landscape of color, supplying gravity-defying flights and waves of delirious delight…As a photographer, I was allowed backstage access into a contemplative world of the men, women and talented kids who treat the public to astonishing athleticism, physical beauty and acrobatic prowess.

Oakland’s Grassroots Circus Acts Both Modern and Retro

San Francisco Chronicle. September 3, 2013.

The acrobats don’t work for Ringling Bros., and they aren’t paid, either. These performers have come from across the United States to join “tech circus,” a grassroots movement that is making Oakland a national force in the highly technical discipline of circus arts.

The Word on Circus is a collection of monthly posts with links to online content relating to circus and performance. If you spot something online that you think others might find of interest, just send us a link and we will add it to this dedicated blog page. Contact ASCA on asca@rednosefoundation.com

The Word on Circus: August 2013

The Circus Comes to Town Juggling Fun With Life Lessons

Seattle Times. August 15, 2013.

Seattle is hosting its first American Youth Circus Festival, drawing 300 students and instructors from across the country — and a handful from beyond — for five days of lessons and practice sessions in dozens of circus-related skills … By the time they head home Sunday, these visitors, from 8 to 21 years old, will be slightly better at juggling, unicycle riding or flying on a trapeze. More importantly, they’ll be a step closer to being strong, confident, goal-oriented, community-minded young adults.

How to Run Away and Join The Circus

Backstage. August 7, 2013.

Over the course of five days and more than 150 skill- and discussion-based workshops, young circus aficionados from 30 states and three countries will flock to feed their hunger for an art that occupies a niche market.

‘Absinthe’ high-wire performers show bravery and skill

Las Vegas Review-Journal. August 4, 2013.

There’s a moment — a millisecond, really — when you’re suspended in the air, only a half-inch wire between life and possible death. In that sliver of time, fear bubbles up from your belly. It’s your instinct trying to warn you that danger lies ahead.

The Word on Circus is a collection of monthly posts with links to online content relating to circus and performance. If you spot something online that you think others might find of interest, just send us a link and we will add it to this dedicated blog page. Contact ASCA on asca@rednosefoundation.com

MMCC Provides the Entertainment for a Picnic in Paghman

The Mobile Mini Circus for Children in Kabul, Afghanistan, were recently featured on Voice of America (VOA). VOA were there to cover MMCC’s first open air performance in Paghman, a popular picnic place. The video doesn’t include sub-titles, nonetheless it’s worth watching for the visuals and for a look at what Afghan MMCC are doing in their part of the world.

The Word on Circus: July 2013

Real-Estate Developer Shows His Zest for Art

The Columbus Dispatch. July 7, 2013.

Karel Appel crop

An interesting story about a wealthy property developer man who loves art (his first purchase was Circus People by Karel Appel in 1972) and has decided it’s time to share his collection with the general public through a nonprofit gallery project and a gallery space within a new $65 million hotel.

Success gave Pizzuti the means to collect the paintings his heart desired, and his collection grew rapidly. He is one of the top 200 collectors in the world, according to ARTnews magazine. The paintings, drawings and sculptures he collected filled his home and eventually a warehouse, and a rotating portion will soon be on display at the Pizzuti Collection in the Short North, an 18,000-square-foot museum in renovated space that is scheduled to open on Sept. 7.

The Pizzuti Collection is a non-profit 501c3 exhibition space dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art from the collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti.

Local Trapeze Artist Wows In Manassas Appearance

By Associated Press on the Washing Post. July 6, 2013.

About a young trapeze artist whose determination and smarts has got her to where she is today.

“I’m not the strongest, and I’m not the most flexible. It’s just that when someone says no, I don’t listen,” she said. Throughout her schooling, she repeatedly pushed her instructors to let her try more than they had thought her capable of.

She also attributes her success to the background in physics that could have led her to the engineering program at Wellesley.

Guardian UK. July 9, 2013.
A follow-up article about the recent tragic death of a Cirque du Soleil performer in Las Vegas and the ongoing issues faced by the Canadian company.

Around the world, Cirque du Soleil is known for its thrilling animal-free acts. Its colourful aesthetic forged in the bilingual city of Montreal has proved easy to export. Within the industry, however, the company is equally well known for the steps it takes to protect the performers that help it pull in an estimated $1bn (£674m) annually from ticket and merchandising sales.

Juggling Ways to Beat Scourge of Sniffing

The Australian. July 9, 2013.

An Aboriginal community plagued by petrol-sniffing just a few years ago, is starting to come back to life with the development of a local circus troupe boosting self-esteem and lifting the spirits of elders.

Circus is a collection of monthly posts with links to online content relating to circus and performance. If you spot something online that you think others might find of interest, just send us a link and we will add it to this dedicated blog page. Contact ASCA on asca@rednosefoundation.com

Circus: A Modern Education Tool

There was a time when the circus was a travelling show with performers, freak shows, and a herd of animals as good old family entertainment. In the early 20th century, though, television and cinema stole the audience and so the performers found other places of employment and the activists returned the monkeys, bears and lions back to their natural habitats. The circus had all but disappeared.

But, for reasons too complicated to explain in the next 700-or-so words, circus has reinvented itself and has re-emerged as what people are now calling contemporary circus.

It’s a broad term that encapsulates everything from traditional circus skills such as clown, object manipulation (juggling, among many other things) and acrobatics (trampoline and trapeze), as well as a range of performance arts. In the 21st century, you’re more likely to see these types of performers on the street, at a festival or in a theatre than you are in a big top circus tent.

The elite in this new world of circus are groups such as Cirque du Soleil, an international entertainment company that is built upon all the elements of contemporary circus and recruits the best of the best to perform in their spectacular shows.

Slowly but surely, as circus reintroduces itself to the world, that element of elusiveness that circus has for so long possessed is evaporating. It is still far from being mainstream, but it is gaining popularity as a hobby and, in some cases, a good work-out. It seems that the simple fun of learning a few circus skills has drawn people of all sorts out to join (not runaway with) the circus.

According to Jay Che, principal instructor at Circus in Motion in Singapore, those who are new to circus would usually begin with developing their coordination skills by learning to juggle, spin plates and spin a spool on a piece of string (a prop commonly known as the diabolo or the Chinese yoyo).

For balance, or “your equilibristic skills,” as Jay refers to it, you could expect to begin with a bit of stilt walking and the rollabolla (a balance board) before maybe having a go at the walking globe (literally, walking on top of a big ball).

Intermediate circus students would begin working on more complicated juggling and diabolo tricks and learning how to juggle flower sticks (also known as devil sticks) and might even try their hand at twirling fire poi or fire staff.

Circus is physical and fun, but there are other benefits to circus that are much less obvious. Circus teaches self-esteem, self-discipline, creativity, teamwork and social skills, and it is multidisciplinary, meaning anyone can find something they can do within the freewheeling world of circus. There are no limits to who can benefit from circus arts and social circus. For all of these reasons, circus is widely used as a tool by community workers to help them engage with marginalised and at-risk youth and communities. Social circus, as it’s known, is a growing movement that is already being used across America, Australia, Europe, and here in Southeast Asia.

Jay Che uses circus to engage with youth in Singapore. Having studied social work at the National University of Singapore and after receiving training in social circus under Cirque du Monde, the international social circus network of Cirque du Soleil, Jay says he is convinced of the benefits associated with circus.

“I was inspired by the stories of fellow instructors from Asia-Pacific and was convinced that social circus was a better tool than conventional counselling.”

In 2012, six years after it was founded, Circus in Motion was recognised as a “social enterprise” and is now a member of the Singapore Social Enterprise Association.

“In the school settings, we are working with the lowest 15 percent of the academic cohort. They often do not turn up for school. With the circus programme in place, the school has reported a higher attendance rate on circus workshop day. Teachers have also viewed non-academically inclined students differently, more positively, for doing circus at school.”

Jay sees circus as a way of teaching perseverance, helping students gain self-esteem, discipline and teamwork.

Andrea Ousley, a circus trainer under Cirque du Soleil who has spent the past six months in Jakarta working with the staff and children at the Jakarta-based social circus the Red Nose Foundation, says a sense of community, too, is one of circus’ best attributes.

“It’s amazing how many cultures still possess that same idea about circus, that marginalized people or those who don’t fit in run away to join the circus. That still sits in the back of people’s minds.”

And that’s why it works, Andrea argues, regardless of someone’s experience, physical ability, age, culture, language, and socio-economic status.

“The circus is a place where people can fit in… People crave being a part of a community, and circus is wonderful because it gives you that sense of community.”

That fact is certainly not lost on Dan Roberts, the founder of the Red Nose Foundation. For six years Dan has been using social circus to engage with children living in two impoverished villages – Cilincing in North Jakarta and Bintaro Lama in South Jakarta. Five days a week, the foundation’s staff are working between the two villages, teaching circus to almost 200 children and running other arts and education classes.

Dan, who studied theatre and worked in a social circus in Chicago before jumping on a plane to Indonesia to set up the foundation, also teaches private circus classes at two of Jakarta’s private international schools.

“Circus transcends cultural boundaries. It’s fun and it’s hard. There are steps that you have to follow if you’re going to succeed, no matter your race, religion, or culture. No one learns to juggle three balls without juggling one ball first,” says Dan.

“Circus is an almighty equalizer. It brings everyone to the same level.”

The article originally appeared in the Jakarta Expat magazine.

Dan Roberts is the president of ASCA, and the founder and executive director of the Red Nose Foundation in Jakarta Indonesia.

Jay Che is the principal instructor at Circus in Motion in Singapore, a member of ASCA.

Overseas Performing Arts Practitioner Wanted


Performers Without Borders is looking for experienced and adventurous volunteers who can perform and teach a range of performance skills to travel to either India or Nicaragua on a 3 or 4 month PWB tour. Volunteers will be spending up to a month at a time with various groups of disadvantaged children in one of these countries, teaching the children and performing in the local area with various partner organisations.

All candidates must fill out an online application form for this role. Please visit http://performerswithoutborders.org.uk/volunteer for more information and to apply.

Overseas Performing Arts Practitioner

Location: India Or Nicaragua

Duration: 3 – 4 Months (India 4, Nicaragua 3)

Dates: Start Jan – April 2014, exact dates TBC

Job Description

We are looking for experienced and adventurous volunteers who can perform and teach a range of performance skills to travel to either India or Nicaragua on a 3 or 4 month PWB tour. Volunteers will be spending up to a month at a time with various groups of disadvantaged children in one of these countries, teaching the children and performing in the local area with various partner organizations.

About The Organization

Performers Without Borders (PWB) is a volunteer run charity that believes in the transforming power of learning and performing the arts. We have been running tours of India annually since 2007, and ran our first tour of Nicaragua in 2013.

PWB works towards giving vulnerable children the opportunity to explore their potential. We understand that, through teaching performance skills an individual’s learning, creativity and team working skills are developed. Further, it helps to build confidence, develop empowerment and overcome social barriers. PWB’s methodology of following the tradition of travelling show, and the principle of fostering long-term relationships, is ideal in not only engaging children, but also ensuring community trust in the project.

PWB envisages a world where all children are able to realize their full potential, and has an understanding of different cultures, the complexity of development issues and the importance of personal action.

PWB will work with partners who engage with vulnerable children in their community to develop centers of performing arts around the world. These centers will act as a means by which international development issues are explored and cross cultural understanding is promoted.

PWB has completed tours in a number of different countries, including in India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. You can view PWB’s videos, photos and blogs from these tours on their website and Flickr page.

A PWB Project

We give volunteers from around the world the opportunity to come together and work for 3 – 4 months with groups of deprived young people in developing countries. We give these young people the chance to learn performance skills, and through this develop their own show to be performed at the end of the month visit.

We aim to build long lasting relationships with the organizations we work with and in the communities we work. We do this through regular visits and on-going work in these groups

 A tour consists of:

  •  A 1-2 week training camp in country to allow you to get acclimatized, put together a show, and finalize the curriculum you will be teaching.
  •  2 or 3 projects with one of our key partners, approx. one month each project. These are organizations that work to support some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the countries we work.
  • Regular out-reach projects. These are performances and workshops that last just one or two days.

 About The Opportunity

 A single tour last 3 to 4 months, but your commitment to PWB begins at the assessment. We ask volunteers to be actively involved in fundraising and promoting PWB’s work before and after the tour. As a volunteer you will be responsible for fundraising the cost of your tour, putting together a show with the rest of the volunteers and planning a teaching curriculum around your unique skills.

As a group you will also have further responsibilities whilst on tour. These include:

  • Finding external groups and organizing shows/workshops
  • Documenting and reporting back on the tour thorough newsletters and videos
  • Managing Budgets
  • Buying and cooking your own food
  • Managing transport logistics
  • Supporting the development of your team mates
  • Organizing ‘rest’ days and activities
  • Ensuring the health and well-being of other team members
  • Reviewing your daily / monthly activities

All accommodation on your tour will be organized centrally by PWB. Costs for meals, accommodation and transport will be covered by your initial contribution to PWB, but it will be up to you as a team to manage these budgets whilst on-tour, following the PWB guidelines.

Auditions and Training

Auditions will be held on 27th July, and will run from 12 – 5 PM.

PWB will be running two separate training weekends for the 2014 tours. These are on the 31st August/1st September and 7th/8th September

Tour Dates

Tours begin in the first week of January, and last until the end of April at the latest.

About You

PWB candidates must demonstrate the following;


  • A mid to high level of skill in one or more circus skill or performance art
  • Experience teaching to mixed groups of children and young people
  • Experience of creating and performing shows


  • Experience living/volunteering overseas
  • Experience of working in a team/touring
  • Experience of coordinating travel logistics
  • Experience of creating/editing short videos
  • Experience writing blogs/social media
  • Mid to high-level skills in 3 or more circus / performance arts.
  • Experience in working with multiple partner organizations.

To Apply

All candidates must fill out an online application form for this role.

Please visit http://performerswithoutborders.org.uk/volunteer for more information and to apply.

The Word on Circus: May 2013

“I wanna Juggle Too!” – Teaching Juggling to Little Kids

eJuggle, the official publication of International Jugglers’ Association. May 20, 2013.

The saddest part for me was watching the youngest kids leave with the impression that they had failed and that juggling was no fun at all. My heart went out to the little guys, so my juggling partner and I began to divide and conquer … I set out to learn what I could about how to make juggling fun for the little ones. Those pre-school and early elementary kids taught me a lot through trial and error, and I would like to share what I have learned.

Battambang, Cambodia: Achieving Fame Through a Circus

Travel Daily News. May 15, 2013.

Their names are Dina, Sothea, Sovanna or Vanthan. These young men are all in their early twenties. They generally share the same difficult background: no parents, poverty. But they are all animated with the same will of achieving a new life through art. But they are currently travelling through France with a spectacular show, a mix of theater review, dances and circus performances. They all share the dream of Phare Ponleu Selpak, one of Cambodia’s most innovative cultural institutions.

Duncan Wall’s top picks for the best acts in contemporary circus

Men’s Journal. May 7, 2013.

“Contrary to what many Americans still think, [Duncan Wall] tells ‘Men’s Journal,’ the circus has come along way from scary Bozos and elephant poop. There are definitely efforts underway to create an intellectual approach to the circus in North America,” he says. “We want to teach people how to think about the circus.”


Circus is a collection of monthly posts with links to online content relating to circus and performance. If you spot something online that you think others might find of interest, just send us a link and we will add it to this dedicated blog page. Contact ASCA on asca@rednosefoundation.com