Teachers & Parents
Explore these resources to learn about circus arts education. Your questions and comments are welcome! Please contact Jackie.
Youth circus is defined as “circus created and performed by youth, as opposed to an entertainment devised for youth” (Dr. Doyle Ott, 2005).
In academic circles, developmental circus arts (DCA) refers to “the theory and practice of using circus arts to cultivate positive youth outcomes across multiple domains,” particularly the physical, social & emotional, and cognitive domains (J.L. Davis, EdM, 2012).
Youth circus programs are booming in the US. In 2011, AYCO released its first census of youth circus activity, which showed that 92% of responding programs had been founded within the previous three decades. A new survey is about to go out to collect more information about the growth of the youth circus sector!
While it is challenging to get hold of the hard statistics, you can get a sense of the global scale of youth circus activity on our Youth & Social Circus Worldwide page.
Isn't Circus Just "Clowning Around?"
Because circus is fun, its benefits can be overlooked. But circus offers huge educational, developmental, and therapeutic benefits! Here are just a few examples:
YES! But peer-reviewed evidence specifically focused on circus is slow incoming. Researchers are finally beginning to notice that circus helps kids!
The following research does not reference circus skills, however, the motor skills performed by the subjects included various bimanual, bilateral, eye-hand, and balancing tasks – the same motor skills used in circus.
Circus skills that are frequently taught in youth circus programs include, but are not limited to:
Scarves, balls, rings, clubs.
Diabolo, juggling (flower) sticks, plate spinning, club
and staff twirling.
Trapeze (static, swinging, flying, single point), silks, rope, lyra.
Tumbling (rolls, handsprings, tucks), Partner Acrobatics (a.k.a. acrobalance, hand-to-hand): Human pyramids, flexibility.
Clown & Character:
Clowning (traditional, theatrical), mime, eccentric
Tightrope, rola bola, unicycle, stilts, rolling globe.
Hula hoop, poi, fire spinning. (Many circus folk prefer the term
“Object Manipulation” or “Spinning”).