After watching countless cartoons as a child centred around the circus, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run away with the circus. I have little arm strength, no balance and often find myself giving up hobbies when the challenge gets too tough, but it’s an art form that I’ve always been fascinated by.
From intense aerialist training to learning the delicate techniques of tightrope walking without wobbling, it’s an art form that takes patience, discipline and strength. And after chatting with performers from Covent Garden’s immersive restaurant, Circus, it’s clear that the rush is worth it all. It’s exhilarating, not to mention heaps of fun.
With World Circus Day – Saturday 16th April – coming up, it left me itching to try out a class for myself. If you’ve often felt the same, thankfully the capital is home to everything you could need to chase your inner curiosity. From beginner workshops to circus-inspired restaurants, here’s where to celebrate.
See the experts in action at Circus
If you love immersing yourself in the action, you’ll want to book a table at Circus, Covent Garden’s quirky cabaret restaurant and cocktail bar. Bringing the circus to the stage, it’s immersive dining at its finest, filled with pan-Asian menus and lively entertainment in front of you.
Expect the unexpected, from aerialists and contortionists to hand balancers, hula-hoopers and fire-breathers performing in front of you.
I had a chat with some of the performers to see what it’s like to work as a circus performer…
Katharine Arnold, aerialist, said: “Aerial was the first discipline I tried and I instantly loved it. Being an aerialist is like having the freedom to move in all dimensions – who needs a floor?! It’s equal parts hardcore training, calloused hands and aching limbs, mixed with sparkling costumes, strobe lights and a strong red lip. Working with such a variety of fellow performers, audience members and production teams means it’s impossible to ever get bored.”
While hand-balancer and hand-to-hand acrobatic, Sammy Dineen, said: “I get such a buzz from performing and love the exhilaration of being on stage and upside down. The circus community is like a giant family and it’s a pleasure to be part of this special world.”
Contortionist, aerial hoop and straps artist, Sam Smith, said: “I danced when I was younger and, with a huge interest in acrobatics, I auditioned for a circus school at age 11 and was accepted into the school. I think my discipline chose me. When training at Circus school, we had to study all disciplines but I had a natural flexibility. After a few years, I stuck with contortion and aerial hoops and straps. At CIRCUS, we perform so close to the audiences and we can see everyone’s reactions.”
Book tickets early for Cirque Du Soleil
The entertainment company that helped pave the way for performers, Cirque Du Soleil returns to London this summer. They’ll be bringing another beautiful story to centrefold, told through awe-inspiring performances, stunning stage designs and elaborate production.
The latest production, arriving in London from 13th until 17th July, follows the story and soul of Mauro, a clown who has passed but whose spirit lives on. Instead of mourning, the funeral cortege celebrates the here and hereafter through laughter. Expect a lively, joyous parade that’s entertaining and inspiring.
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Party at Cirque le Soir
For a clubbing experience that’ll shock, exhilarate and entertain, look to Cirque Le Soir. The Soho nightclub is renowned for its circus-themed antics and raucous atmosphere.
Great for birthday parties, hen dos or just a bank holiday night out with a bang, the club is home to fire-breathers, burlesque dancers and an indoor funfair where everyone is welcome.
Cirque Le Soir, 15-21 Ganton Street, Soho, W1F 9BN
Or, learn the techniques for yourself at one of these workshops
If you’re looking to take the leap and learn a few circus performing techniques, London is home to some great circus workshops and schools that’ll see you on your way to tightroping, juggling and perfecting aerial acrobatics in no time.
Forgotten Circus School
Helping to make circus artistry more accessible is Forgotten Circus School. They are renowned for bringing the flair and fun of the art form to life through workshops and classes that all are welcomed to, whether you’re a beginner or advanced.
You’ll learn from their team of experts, delving into acrobatic training, aerial straps and hoops, and flexibility classes. They offer drop-in classes or intensive week or month long courses for those looking to take their hobby to the next level.
Helping to make circus artistry more accessible is Forgotten Circus School.
Home to three venues across London, Flying Fantastic offers a space for inquisitive minds and circus lovers to come together to learn a new discipline. It’s an aerial fitness school, offering everything from aerial silks classes to aerial yoga, trapeze, corde lisse and more.
For those looking to go even further, the school also offers four week programmes, where you’ll master the foundations of a range of aerial disciplines, including rope, silks, hoop and status trapeze.
A space for inquisitive minds and circus lovers to come together to learn a new discipline.
Circus Glory Trapeze School
Primrose Hill’s Circus Glory Trapeze School is run by Genevieve Monstesse. With over 30 years experience working and teaching circus arts to adults, teenagers and children, she’s become one of the most respected and renowned aerial teachers in Europe.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to host a birthday party, want to level your skills or start the kids off young with a fun, energetic hobby, this is the school that covers everything from aerial to floor work and games.
Taught by Genevieve Monsters, she's become one of the most respected and renowned aerial teachers in Europe.
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