During half term I attended the 1st UK Youth Circus Network festival but rather than write about my experience of being at the event (which I felt was similar to attending the NYCE last year) I though I’d give you some other perspectives. What follows are a few “guest posts” written by some of the young people who attended the UKYCN festival from youth circuses around the country. You can find photos from the festival here.
Lucy, 14, Five Ring Circus
For the last three days I have been at the first UKYCN ( United Kingdom Youth Circus Network ) festival. It was hosted by Wookey Hole Circus in Somerset which is run by Gerry Cottle, with Willie Ramsay and Lesley Gardener. There was over 90 youths there altogether from 18 different youth circuses around the UK.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as it was the first of hopefully many more to come. I thought it might have been a little bit like a convention and it was, but more exciting as it was the start of bringing lots of youth circuses together. The first day had a brilliant atmosphere which lasted through the whole event. There were a few faces I recognised but also a lot of new people that I had never met. That is one of the many reasons why I love circus because there is always lots more friendly people that I can get to know. Each day we did about five different workshops. I enjoyed this as some of it was totally new, like capoeira, some things I could already do but wanted to progress, like juggling, and other areas that I do a lot but still want to learn more, like unicycling. These workshops also gave us a chance to work with new people that have the same interests as us.Every night there was an open renegade which gave all the youths a chance to perform to everyone. My circus leader, Steve, persuaded me to perform a unicycle routine. I am glad I did perform because I now have a solo routine which I can expand on. Performing in front of other circuses is also a good starting point because they know what it is like to get up onto a stage and perform and also how long it takes to perfect a trick.
JL, 22, Blackpool Circus School
The 1st UKYC Network event was very enjoyable, sadly I wasn’t able to bring any other students from Blackpool Circus School but I came with my sister and we had a fabulous time.
Wookey Hole has fantastic facilities and equipment, their theatre looks brilliant and laid out rather nicely. Unlike most groups around the country the youngsters at Wookey are performing regularly to paying audiences. This means not only are they learning skills (to very high standards), they are getting to perform them, allowing them to stay one huge step ahead of others when it comes to professionalism.
Different groups have their strengths and weaknesses; I liked that everyone got to try all the different skills available. I feel it’s important for us all to vary our skills and not to concentrate on one discipline. I’ve never tried caperaria before – I wasn’t sure what I would think of it and how it would fit into a circus program. Having taken part in the workshop I can now see the links to circus with parts of it like an acro dance. The teachers of this workshop did a fantastic job delivering something that was fairly new to many sceptic youngsters.
There was more ‘free time’ and skill sharing allocated within the schedule compared to other youth events I’ve been to. I imagine this isn’t to everyone’s taste but it suited me completely; others I spoke to also gave similar positive feedback.
I was asked by Greg to work alongside Trea and Albert to push the youth forum; this is something I have always been passionate about. We’ve had good response, many are keen to get involved which is great – exactly what we need Anyone else who is interested, please get in touch with one of us, we still need representatives from each group. Fact of the matter is, if we don’t get youngsters involved, formalise the UKYCN and gain the much needed recognition, then there will be no 2nd, 3rd or 4th event for us all to go to.
The Wookey performers did a superb job, I loved watching their circus show. It was full of high level skills and perfected routines that some travelling circus’ could learn a thing or two from! Trainers/coaches really do have a lot to be proud of, so keep up the good work Wookey Hole! Equally the Reg Bolton shows were a great success, a mixture of near polished routines and demonstrations of things learnt in workshops.
The 1st UKYCN Event has left me excited for what the future hold for youth circus here in the UK, abroad a lot more is going on and I truly believe we are heading in the right direction. Keep an eye out people for a video my sister and I are currently editing of the event, I will upload it to my YouTube channel [see below]. I look forward to the next event and hope I can bring students from Blackpool Circus School so they too can have an equally amazing time. Don’t forget to keep networking everyone, share all things circusy!
Lucy, 15, Wookey Hole Circus
My name is Lucy and I’m from The Wookey Hole Circus and have been for about 4 ½ years now.
This year was the 1st UKYC Network Festival and I felt privileged to not only be a part of it but also to be part of the circus which was hosting the event. I really enjoyed myself and found it very different to the previous youth circus events I had attended in the past. My favorite part of the festival (besides the food…) was the open stage nights, in my opinion they were not only entertaining but also inspiring & allowed people who do not perform often a chance to show other members of youth circuses what they could do and potentially influence others to have a go at something they may not have originally have found appealing. Myself, Charlie and Lily (also from Wookey Hole Circus) performed a short German Wheel act, out of all performances I have done I found it the most nerve racking due to it being in front of other youth circus members, they can tell if something goes wrong or you’re in the wrong position or if your legs should be straight with pointed toes so I was very nervous to perform but I managed to stay focused and feel like I pulled it off.
I really enjoyed the workshops which took place in the mornings and evenings, I managed to learn a range of new skills from an improvement on my juggling, to having a go at some acrobalance which I had not had much experience in. It was one of my favourite events I have attended and I really liked the way the youths had a lot more freedom, more say in what took place and what we would like to happen in the future too. I met some really talented young people and really enjoyed experiencing how different trainers from around the UK teach their youths. Overall I loved the experience and am really looking forward to potentially getting involved with future events.
Mimosa, 15, Jackson’s Lane Youth Circus
At Wookey Hole, I learnt more new stuff, met more cool people and had more fun in four days than I think I ever have before! It was a circus students’ dream; all the equipment you could ask for ranging from a highwire to rollerskates but best of all the priceless help from circus teachers and trainers from all corners of the country. Some of the best things I tried were German Wheel, Acrobalance (as a flyer for a change!!) and tightrope – all of which I’d love to keep working on. It was probably the best way I’ve spent a holiday ever; everyone was so friendly and such a laugh and I truly made some friends i’ll keep for life. It was such an amazing experience; I can only hope I get to go next year- 10/10 doesn’t really cover it!
Fun & Games
Of course it wasn’t all workshops, networking and renegade performances. We also found time to have some fun. Here’s a glimpse of what we got up to in between things: