FYI Vol. VII – No. 6



Change in AYCO Leadership

Amy Cohen has announced her intention to leave her position as executive director of the American Youth Circus Organization at the end of 2018.

Tara Jacob will be taking on the role of interim executive director while the board conducts a formal search for new leadership.  Tara has been involved with AYCO for almost 10 years in a variety of capacities

In her farewell message to the membership Cohen says, “Serving as executive director of AYCO and ACE has been the most powerful and significant force in my life. I am looking forward to remaining deeply connected to this community – to participating in new and different ways, and to continuing to develop the deep relationships that have been cultivated.”


Canadian National Circus Announces New Program To Educate Circus Arts Instructors

The aim of this program is to train instructors who will be qualified to provide an initiation into various circus disciplines in the context of recreational activity. These instructors may also serve as educators in the social services arena, introducing young people at risk to the circus arts.

Circus arts instructors are able to find employment in many areas. These include: schools devoted to circus arts as recreational activity, municipal recreational facilities, day or vacation camps, or resorts that offer leisure activities. Instructors may also be called upon to animate after-school programs in educational facilities. Community and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which may also incorporate these arts as a form of social education, have occasion to call upon the services of circus arts instructors. The research has demonstrated the positive impact on youngsters of the practice of circus arts, particularly in terms of motor skills, emotional resilience and self-confidence. Practicing circus reduces the differences between genders in terms of motor skills.

The École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) now offers an online version of the circus arts Instructor program in English. The program takes place over a period of 17 weeks. It consists of mostly virtual sessions along with a week of onsite training with the School’s teachers in Montreal or another city depending on the session. Upon graduating from the School, instructors may further their professional development by enrolling in the Trainer in Circus Arts program, receiving credit for the first 5 courses and their 90 hours work experience internship.


Cirque Mechanic Debuts New Production

Inspired by the 250th birthday of circus and Philip Astley, Cirque Mechanic has titled its new show  42ft (a reference to the circus ring). It opened in Las Vegas  at UNLV on Septemeber 22. It tells the story of  a one ring American circus and a wayward roustabout looking for a job on the show (a part played by Justin Therrien) The national tour begins on October 12th. It is scheduled to hit the East Coast in December.


Site of Astley’s Amphitheatre Commemorated

On Friday September 14th,  a paving stone funded by Zippo’s Circus and was unveiled at the garden of St Thomas’s Hospital, London, on the south side of Westminster Bridge.

The flagstone is the second commemorative item to be unveiled this year celebrating the origination in the Lambeth area of circus entertainment.    A plaque attached to a building in nearby Cornwall Rd was unveiled on Easter Monday 2018, the exact anniversary of Astley’s first advertised performance and thus of the founding of the art-form of the modern circus, now a world-wide cultural phenomenon.

The Amphitheatre was the world’s first circus building, yet no permanent commemoration had previously been made.  On 14th September the founder and director of Zippo’s Circus Martin Burton brought a group of his performers to a spot in the garden of St Thomas’s Hospital estimated to be close to the site of the building’s main entrance.  Appropriately,  the group included a circus horse and its Cossack rider, Tamik Khadikov, with his wife Helena; as well as ringmaster Norman Barrett MBE; musical clowns Totti and Charlotte Alexis and their sons Charlie and Maxim; aerialists Vickki and Pablo Garcia and their sons Antonio and Connor; hand-balancer Melissa; and clown Paulo Dos Santos.  Also present in authentic period costume to represent Mr Astley was ringmaster and circus historian Chris Barltrop.

A flagstone inscribed in commemoration and celebration was unveiled by Charlie and Maxim Alexis.  Burton had asked the two young boys to perform the unveiling so as to represent the ongoing nature of the classical circus and its future; they are the seventh generation of their family to be circus artistes.

Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton commented ‘We thank St Thomas’s Hospital for their enthusiastic cooperation in our plans.  We are delighted to honour the tradition of circus and Philip Astley’s legacy. Circus has evolved but its core skills and ability to delight audiences of all ages haven’t changed. I believe circus will still be hugely popular for another 250 years”