Jazz spent a week in Barcelona as part of ASK- Assistant trainers Sharing Knowledge project. This is an Erasmus + funding project, involving 11 countries over 2 years producing a curriculum, guidelines and videos to support the teaching of Assistant TrainersWhat a wonderful experience! Not only did I get to meet so many different circus people, from so many different countries, but I also got to experience this in an amazing center in Barcelona which treated us all very well! We learned all about how the space came to be, with intergenerational conversations surrounding circus culture, teaching, and its social benefits. To be in such a place with such great people meant not only my knowledge expanded of what circus in Europe today means, but also boosted the confidence in my love for circus and how important it is and encouraged me to take all I learned back and use it in my teaching and practice.
The week was spent together but for some sessions, we were split into two groups, one making videos and the other working on the curriculum for assistant teacher trainers. It was the last of all the meetups, so the pressure was on to finalize the curriculum. I enjoyed the creative process of producing films that could be used to help future assistant teacher trainers. We made one about the importance of respecting each other and could share our experiences and tips, for example, one woman told me that speaking to people on an equal eye level was very important and that has really stuck with me. Working in a team meant we could use all the information we each had and bring it together for the future benefits of assistant trainers. On top of this, we got the opportunity to visit La Central which was a dream school, we sat in the rehearsals of the Christmas show that was on and as well as having wonderful food every day we got to enjoy an evening of music on the last night.It was an amazing opportunity to be part of the assembling of the curriculum because this will go on to be very useful and bring together all the knowledge of circus from around Europe and I look forward to its completion! Many thanks to all that made this possible and the beautiful people I met!
ASK Project Rotterdam October 2019 Kim Lazonby, Leeds Children’s Circus
I was surprised and excited to be selected as one of of the 2 participants to represent the UK for this Circusworks project, it felt like an enormous privilidge.
After some quiet reflection on a journey from Leeds to Amsterdam and then on to Rotterdam, spying on an owl and a cormorant from the train window, it was a short walk to the hostel which was easy to find.
It was cosy and friendly. I had felt a bit strange about going to meet a group of strangers in a city that I had never visited before but I remembered that they were ‘Circus people’ which are my kind of people!
The first night we congregated outside of the hostel and made our way to Whitte de Whit Strasse to meet up for dinner. It was a really fun evening, meeting everyone for the first time and a couple of familiar faces, we had a delicious meal and lots of chatting and laughter, it was a good atmosphere.
It did rain apocolyptically on the way back to the hostel and those of us that picked the wrong moment to leave were soaked to the skin!
The first day we took a water taxi to the circus school it went a lot quicker than I thought it would, hold onto your hat stuff!
We began the day with introductions and Stephen led us through the sessions for the day, it was fun and we played some games to help us come together as a group and learn each others names which I found a challenge as there was 27 of us!
Stephen and Lynn explained the project and our purpose for the rest of the week, to continue the work of the previous ASK projects and contribute to compiling a manual for training assistant trainers.
The rest of the week we split into two groups and one group went downstairs to work on video content and a group upstairs who would work on the format of the manual.
There was much headscratching and deep thinking, I was really in my element because I was talking about the benefits of circus skills and circus play without boring anyone like I usually do!
It was pretty intense in the upstairs group lots of talking and thinking, I learned a lot about things that I already knew, which has extended my knowledge and ways of thinking.
We had discussions about different education models, how classes should be planned, the different needs of the students, there was quite a bit of psychology in there so it was good to find some references to some background reading on these subjects and practitioners to look up, I came across the ‘policeman, nurse, clown’ model for the first time, I realised that I had seen this in practice many times and did it myself but it was great to have it explained to me in that way and it’s a useful tool that I’ll be talking to other practicioners in the UK about.
We had a quick tour of the Codarts building one afternoon, it’s a really incredible place, we watched some students practicing for a performance it was really professional. It would be a fabulous opportunity to study there.
By the end of the week a structure for the training manual was starting to fall into place, we really didn’t see much of Rotterdam as we were working so hard! Shouska organised a walking tour of Rotterdam one evening and it was pretty fascinating what a complex and ever growing future city!
The tour guide was really great and told us all about the history of Rotterdam and see some of the diverse architecture, I still don’t understand how stuff doesn’t fall out of the windows of the Cube Haus!
All in all it was a fabulously productive week with some rather lovely people, it felt really well organised and the structure of the week really worked.
I felt quiet invigorated to have spent so much time reflecting on circus practice, I felt like it had dusted some cobwebs off for me and I returned with a greater enthusiasm to help to get our youth session up and running again.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed manual when it is finished!
Thanks for having me!
Learner Centred Learning – EYCO – Germany 2019 by Tina Carter, Airhedz Aerial Training
I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to participate in the Learner Centred Learning week-long intensive in Germany in mid-September, 2019. A sincere thank you to Circus Works for the opportunity.
I had set up a new youth circus the year before and was keen to learn from other youth-focused teachers about their methodologies, techniques and overall practices. Despite being a circus practitioner and teacher for more than two decades, my focus had shifted to working with young and older adults. I wanted to ensure I was still doing the right thing.
I anticipated much of the information being familiar, and there was a lot that I was aware of, but the way the facilitators shared their knowledge, drew experience and expertise from all those present, and encouraged a generosity of sharing was invaluable. There was time to go much deeper into subjects than I had anticipated. We tested out different approaches, were students and teachers, explored the nuanced differences between learner-centred and teacher-centred approaches and how each can have significant benefit at different points in time, with different client groups and within different disciplines. It was a practical and philosophical week. The most perfect type of week!
And it was set in the magical grounds of CircArtive in Gschwend. We learned, ate, played and slept in the same space. No time was wasted, but there was also time to digest, contemplate, be alone. We could chat over breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks in the woodland. Oh and yes we got to climb high trees, walk with Alpaca and witness young people playing freely and working hard with and through circus. I left invigorated, inspired, exhausted but determined to keep on going. Awesome.
ASK Estonia Blog
I learnt so much working on the ASK project in Estonia, and had an absolutely amazing time. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about circus pedagogy in the ten other European countries involved and to think in depth about the role of an assistant teacher. We were hosted by Circus Folie in Tallinn who had arranged for us to stay in a lovely bed and breakfast very close to the centre where the sessions were held. It was great staying with the other participants and circus conversations went on late into the night but there was still opportunity for you to get some time to yourself when needed. We ate at a restaurant together every night and the food, service and company was excellent. The sessions were extremely well facilitated so that they were informative, fun, inclusive and enabled the group to make the most out of their collective knowledge and experience. Steven and Lynn adapted the sessions to what we as a group needed at the time and enabled a really productive and friendly group dynamic. Our masterclass was focused on the role of the assistant teacher, so we particularly looked at different structured support systems for assistant teachers drawing on current European practice. We also looked in depth about the different qualities and skills that are needed to teach circus skills well and good and poor practice in supporting assistant teachers to develop them. I found the sections on how to foster positive relationships between staff, teachers and students within a circus organisation and the sharing of practical activities for teaching specific skills particularly useful. We also played plenty of circus and facilitation games which was a lot of fun! We also had plenty of opportunities to make the most out of visiting a Tallinn. It was organised for us to go to an outdoor ice skating rink in the centre of Tallinn, we were taken on a historic tour of the town and we went to see a Giraffe Royal Theatre show. Circus Folie organised a youth circus show and gave us the opportunity to practise the feedback techniques that we had been working on in sessions. They also organised two skill share sessions in the circus centre and it was really great to have the opportunity to train with the other teachers on the project. I would absolutely recommend any circus practitioners to get involved in this project if at all possible. I am very much looking forward to the next stages of the project and meeting everyone again in Bristol for the final presentation.
Review of ASK training in Lodz Poland April 2019 – Stephanie Hay
I was lucky to be given a place at the 3rd ASK event in Lodz, Poland.
The main task of the week was to produce an information booklet which would be given to Circus Schools across Europe to support their assistant trainers. I spent the week working on the introduction pages along with 4 other trainers and assistant trainers.
I found this booklet to work very well as it provided me with some further insight as to what trainers want their assistants to know and showed me the similarities in circus schools across Europe.
Alongside the booklet we also got the opportunity to have training and discussions in a range of topics such as Conflict management, creativity, engaging young people, funding and potential collaborations and exchanges. I found each of these topics deeply interesting and realised that each theory mentioned throughout the week was relevant to my circus school and my own teaching methods.
At the start of each session, trainers and A.T’s were encouraged to present a game which they used at their own circus school; For me, this was one of the highlight’s of the training as Modo uses games at the start of each session to focus the young people and by playing and learning new games I have come home inspired to try new things with my group.
I think that the group of people attending this training worked really well as there was a mix of ages, ethnicities and experience (Over 300 years circus experience all together!). This meant everyone in the group was able to learn from each other and share their own experience and I learned a lot about the running and beliefs of different circus schools. Although the age range was so varied, I found that I got along with everyone and could approach anyone with any questions I had.
The organisation of the event was excellent – Prior to the trip we were given all the information we needed including tram/bus routes, times and addresses, I found this very helpful as I would have been completely lost without this information!
On arrival, we were met in reception and given all the information we needed for the following week and the tram tickets we needed to get there. The training centre was also excellent; the space was large and with the large park outside we never struggled for space. I also found the heritage of the city and the centre very touching and this made me futher research the city on arriving home.
We were given plenty of time for socials, this included meeting with the local juggling group, an Escape room, a visit to an art museum and time in the evenings to sit down and talk with the other members of the group.
I felt that the introductions on the first day of training played a significant part in how the group mixed over the week. One of the facilitators read out a number of statements and you had to ‘cross the line’ if this was true. This gave everyone a good chance to learn about their peers without having to initiate a conversation. We were also regularly split into small groups for further discussion which allowed me to speak to everyone individually and learn more about them.
Overall, I found the week inspiring and have returned back to Scotland excited to try out some new games with my group and apply some of the new theories I learned to my own work and teach my colleagues about everything I learned over the course of the week.
Review of ASK training in Lodz Poland April 2019 Peter Duncan
I was lucky enough to get a place on the ASK training programme in Lodz Poland
The big picture was gathering the information needed to support assistant trainers in circus schools – a curriculum, advice for schools, videos , handbooks etc,
The tasks are being tackled over the course of five weeks spread across Europe over a year – we were the central week – two events already completed.
Participants travelled in – from Estonia,Finland, Germany, Slovenia, Cataluña,France, Italy, Belgium, and Netherlands as well as the UK,
Each country had spent an experienced trainer – often leading a circus school and young people starting out on their lives as teachers and performers
As preparation we had been asked to think about key information for trainers to know, and instructional videos we liked – more about teaching than circus skills
The journey was OK , I met up with another UK representative from MODO in Scotland at Stansted Airport and after navigating trams and busses we arrived at the hotel.
The organisation was excellent- we all ate together and were given tram tickets to travel around the city. The venue was a “dialogue centre” build on the site of the Ghetto in Lodz
The five days were fast paced – excellent facilitation meant we got to know each other and produced lots of materials= challenging discussions and exploring issues were mixed with people sharing their favourite games. The programme was altered to meet the needs and requests from participants. Sessions on conflict resolution and creativity were added.
The discussions were held in English but supported by sign language , and skilled linguists supporting those using their third or fourth language.
Social opportunities included meeting the local jugglers , an “escape room” and trips to see Murals and an art gallery
The “big picture” of the project was always in sight with facilitators and people who had attended previous weeks. There was space for exploring issues important to us as well as “landing” the big tasks anticipated for the week- structure of a handbook, and videos of key elements
The week was intensive – work scheduled between 9.00am and 5.00pm but discussions continued over meals and often late into the night in the excellent pubs and bars in Lodz.
I have returned with admiration for people who can work in 4 languages, new games, new thinking about how and what to train , and contacts for exchanges all over Europe.
I am working on adapting and applying the ideas. I am happy to chat to people about the experience, take part in dissemination events, and I would encourage others to apply for the opportunities
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT AND APPLY FOR OUR TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES CHECK OUT OUR OPPORTUNITIES PAGE HERE
Blog post by Alex Clatworthy, Circus Eruption
I applied to attend the ASK conference with very little hope of getting picked as I’m very new to working in the circus (although have been involved as a volunteer for years). So when I got the email inviting me to go I was really chuffed!!
We made our way to Gschwend via bus, plane, train and van and after a long 16 hour journey arrived in CircArtive. It’s such an amazing place with a lovely roundhouse barn for skills; animals roaming around- like alpacas, goats and chickens; some great communal spaces for eating and meeting and lovely cabins for us to stay in. All situated in beautiful forests. We were also treated to some unseasonably warm, sunny weather.
I was a little nervous about what we would be doing with our week, but I needn’t have been – we started off with the usual “getting to know you” games and it was a great introduction for the group. We were a bunch of strangers who would be spending a lot of time together and it was good to find out what a lovely bunch we were! The work we did was really interesting – trying to figure out what an assistant circus trainer was and how best to train them for circuses across Europe. It was fascinating for me to discover other circuses needs and expectations, and also to have some impact on future training. It was all facilitated really well – there was never too much sitting still, we did games and skills and I felt like everyone in the room had something to offer and a space in which to share it.
I’m really grateful for the opportunity I had to go and see some of Germany, visit a wonderfully unique circus space and meet such an amazing group of people. I would definitely recommend getting involved with this project if you have the chance!