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Circus for the Early Years

This fantastic project was made possible through the support of the Devonport Council Small Grants Program along with the vital enthusiasm of Jenny Mountney from the East Devonport Child and Family Centre (EDCFC).

 

Twelve adventurous parents signed up, each with their 3 to 5 year-old child to join the circus for 8 weeks.  The group was joined by the equally adventurous Sue Horton (EDCFC Community Inclusion Worker).  Each week of a kinder project we introduce a new piece of circus equipment, suggesting various ways to use them; both individually, with their parent or with the whole group.  Throwing, catching, balancing, rolling, jumping, chasing, spinning... to name a few!  Needless to say, the kids thought of a million more ways!  We played running games, co-operative games, imagination games and performance games.  We built human pyramids of all shapes and sizes, we skipped and we played with an enormous parachute too.  By the end of each class the kids were about ready for a nap..... and so were all the adults!

 

On the final week, we had our Showtime!  Brothers and sisters, mums, dads, grandparents and friends came along to see what they'd all been up to.  A few kids naturally experienced some stage fright, while others really didn't!  In the end, everyone got up to show off something they'd learnt, and all were met with plenty of well deserved applause.  

 

Click here to see photos from this kinder project.

Circus Show with kids from Dunalley & Nubeena

It was just 3 days that we spent teaching workshops on the Tasman Peninsula, but what an awesome 3 days it was!! 

The highly passionate Dave Judge from Dunalley Tasman Neighbourhood House masterminded this weekend of workshops to lift the spirits of the young people recovering from the recent fires.  The weekend would not have been such a success without Dave's vision, and the support and enthusiasm of the Neighbourhood House team.

We spent Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and Sunday morning running back to back workshops with a group of young people from Dunalley and another from Nubeena.  As it turned out, many of the parents couldn't resist joining in, and they had a great time too.  What struck us about these participants was their ability to focus and determination to learn something new; the trickier the better.  

On the Saturday evening we ran an extra workshop where all of the participants were invited to make their own piece of circus equipment.  After less than two hours or careful measuring, cutting and assembling, there was quite the collection of newly hand-made poi, devil sticks, juggling balls and hula hoops.  The next day we heard that some of the kids had slept cuddled up to their treasured circus equipment in bed, and that one of the older lads had blisters from practicing with his poi so much! 

The Grand Finale of this jam-packed weekend saw the coming together of both the Dunalley and Nubeena groups for one magnificent performance; held on Sunday afternoon.  We had a huge turnout of supportive family and friends form an enthusiastic and appreciative audience who delivered regular rapturous applause for the performers. Three confident young ladies volunteered to host the show in wonderful comedic fashion, and every participant had something to show, even some of the adults too!  You name it, it was included: clowns causing mayhem, highly choreographed hula hoops acts followed by free flowing improvisation skits, and an incredibly difficult three-person three-way spinning plate toss!  

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Families learning circus together

This series of 8 circus workshops was included as part of the Family Learning Club at Romaine Park Primary School, funded by The Smith Family.  Families with primary school aged children targeted by The Smith Family were invited to join in on the weekly circus antics.  And what an awesome bunch of families they were!  We were also lucky enough to have Cathryn Faulkner from The Smith Family and Tony French, the school's Physical Education teacher, join us each week.

Each week the kids came in excited to get back to what they had learnt the week before.  We put aside a short time at the start of each workshop for self-led practice and no matter how much time we allocated, it was never enough! One kid was driven to learn the next fancy devil stick trick, another to keep the hula hoop going on their waist (oh, actually that was one of the dads!), another pushing his juggling to the limit; learning to keep three balls in the air was not enough, so he challenged himself (and succeeded) to juggle while balancing on a rola bola!  

All the parents involved in this project were unstoppable.  Not only encouraging their kids to take on a challenge but leading by example and taking the leap themselves.  One mum wondered aloud why anyone would bother learning diabolo, until she got it spinning, and then her face said it all!  

No challenge was too great for this group.  They readily joined in to whatever activities we suggested, often adding their own unique spin.  It didn't seem to matter if it was an improvisation activity, challenging group activity, or a high-energy game; they were always up for it.  On the final week the costumes came out and each person shared something they had learnt, introduced by a quirky, and at times hilarious, father-daughter duo.  

Click here to see photos from this family project.

Festival Circus Workshop

What a fantastic event!! For 3 full days spanning the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, we found ourselves full-time residents of the MyState Very Important Kids area.  This was by far our biggest workshop to date.  We had 3 trainers, a couple of volunteers and over 200 sets of equipment running flat out.  We estimate that we taught around 1,500 festival goers over the 3 days! 

It was an awesome, somewhat exhausting weekend, and feedback from participants was 100% positive.  Our visitors loved having something constructive to be involved with, and many stayed for hours on end and/or returned day after day.  For us, we very much enjoyed working with Alexandra and Gemma at MyState to bring something a little different to this world-class festival.   Hooray for the circus!

Click here to see photos from this festival.

Families learning circus Mission Australia

This series of 8 circus workshops was included as part of the Family Learning Club at Romaine Park Primary School, funded by The Smith Family.  Families with primary school aged children targeted by The Smith Family were invited to join in on the weekly circus antics.  And what an awesome bunch of families they were!  We were also lucky enough to have Cathryn Faulkner from The Smith Family and Tony French, the school's Physical Education teacher, join us each week.

Each week the kids came in excited to get back to what they had learnt the week before.  We put aside a short time at the start of each workshop for self-led practice and no matter how much time we allocated, it was never enough! One kid was driven to learn the next fancy devil stick trick, another to keep the hula hoop going on their waist (oh, actually that was one of the dads!), another pushing his juggling to the limit; learning to keep three balls in the air was not enough, so he challenged himself (and succeeded) to juggle while balancing on a rola bola!  

All the parents involved in this project were unstoppable.  Not only encouraging their kids to take on a challenge but leading by example and taking the leap themselves.  One mum wondered aloud why anyone would bother learning diabolo, until she got it spinning, and then her face said it all!  

No challenge was too great for this group.  They readily joined in to whatever activities we suggested, often adding their own unique spin.  It didn't seem to matter if it was an improvisation activity, challenging group activity, or a high-energy game; they were always up for it.  On the final week the costumes came out and each person shared something they had learnt, introduced by a quirky, and at times hilarious, father-daughter duo.  

Click here to see photos from this family project.

Equipment Making and Leadership

Generously funded by arts@work and Arts Tasmania, the Artist in Residence program is designed to bring genuine arts experiences to school students while giving artists an opportunity to explore new ideas.  After successfully applying to be involved in this program, we set to work developing a series of workshops that would challenge, engage and excite the students of Penguin High School.  

We had a total of 25 days at the school over Term 1, back when there were just 3 terms.  We spent 2 days per week at the school.  Each week, we were either teaching basic circus skills to various groups within the school, working with a group of budding 'Circus Leaders', or running workshops on how to make their own circus equipment so that students could continue their skills at home.

Circus Leaders:
The Circus Leaders were a group of Grade 9 students, most of whom had never experienced circus before.  They signed up to learn not only circus skills, but how to teach them.  Throughout the program, the students showed remarkable focus, determination and courage while learning all sorts of leadership and teaching skills.  By the end of week 10, they were ready!  Consequently, over the following 2 weeks, Grades 5 and 6 students from nearby Penguin and Riana Primary Schools were invited to take part in circus classes led by the Grade 9 students.  We held our breath in anticipation.... And they were just amazing!  All the Grade 6 students learnt countless circus skills, and the Leaders learnt how satisfying it is to lead a session of their own, and do it well.

Equipment-making:
Our equipment making workshops were open to all students at Penguin High.  After learning some basic circus skills from us, we offered the students a choice of making hula hoops, juggling balls, devil sticks, poi or juggling clubs.  No easy feat!  But with help from the school in sourcing materials and securing various rooms for us to work in, by the end of week 12, we were amazed at how much equipment we had created - 130 sets in total - what an achievement!  With all that circus equipment in their hands, the students of Penguin High may just become the next big circus stars!?  Who knows... but they'll certainly have a lot of fun!

Click here to see photos from this school project.