What is Circus Circle?

Circus Circle is our circus outreach program for youth in difficulty. Circus Circle has been operating non-stop for over a decade, four times a week in 3 different locations so youth can more easily access the programs. There’s no cost to the youth so there are no barriers for them to attend.

Circus Circle assists troubled youth better their lives through the discipline and self-confidence that come with developing and mastering circus skills such as juggling, unicycling and balance work, aerials, acrobatics and more. The teachers share their joy of performing and help youth learn in a safe and supportive environment

Circus Circle is based on the Cirque du Monde, the very successful circus outreach programs of the Cirque du Soleil. Circus Circle was developed by Mike Hirschbach who worked for the Cirque for several years as a performer, and then as a Trainer of Trainers for Cirque du Monde in Canada, the U.S. and Africa.

Tuesdays: 1:00PM - 4:00 Location: Halifax Circus
Thursdays: 1:00PM - 4:00 Location: Halifax Circus

How Does Circus Circle Work?

The program is based on five key concepts:

Safety: Physical and emotional safety in the workspace are the most important elements. The circus space becomes a refuge, a place to work, play, and explore new skills and social directions.

Reliability and Consistency: The schedule and location of the program are consistent, and the teachers are professional and highly experienced in working with marginalized youth.

Skill Development: As the youth see their skills improve levels, their confidence in their physical and social abilities increase.

Mentoring: Our instructors assist youth as they learn circus skills, but youth participants who attend Circus Circle often help teach new students, and these youth are recognized as valued mentors and peer teachers.

Community Building: Over time youth develop circus and social skills, become mentors, performers and teachers. This helps change their perception of themselves, and enables the community to see them as contributors. As skills and trust are built over time, youth will often share the problems that brought them to the program, and it is here that the instructors can act as guides, helping them to access community resources in Halifax and start to deal with their individual difficulties.

Circus Circle participants when they recieved their Cirque de Soliel tickets!

Circus Circle participants when they recieved their Cirque de Soliel tickets!

Why Does Circus Circle Work?

Youth respond to circus work. It appeals to them, challenges them, and fosters effective change. They develop autonomy, solidarity, self-esteem, communication, expression, adaptability to change, and physical fitness. A social circus program can help serve as a springboard for reintegration into family, school and community.

Circus is an art form and way of training that bridges cultures, renews the sense of wonder, strengthens communities and encourages youth to explore and surpass their limits. It is a powerful tool for social and personal change. It is fun combined with hard work, and it is calculated risk and trust developed through shared experience

Circus work is a combination of visually exciting and physically demanding skills. There’s a real sense of progress as youth master circus skills requiring discipline and cooperation. It creates a sense of responsibility, belonging and a feeling of pride in accomplishment

Circus encourages participants to discover their passion. Those who don’t have a feel for acrobatics may find that juggling or the tightrope is a good fit. Theatre may be the entrance for another, while yet another might find that a technical aspect (lighting, costume, stage management) brings out an unsuspected excellence.

A circus outreach program is effective and helps change lives for the better. It has a strong combination of artistic, educational, social, recreational, physical well-being and community elements. It can help youth from even the most difficult backgrounds change from hopelessness to a renewed sense of self and participation with others.

Circus work is fun, and kids take great pleasure in their ability to surprise and astonish people with their new skills. It isn’t just the most adept, or athletic, or gifted kids who learn and benefit from circus work. It’s often the seemingly uncoordinated one who suddenly is juggling four objects, the awkward one who discovers grace on the tightrope, or the shy one who blooms on stage.

Where does Circus Circle lead?

Most youth will take the life skills they learn through social circus – discipline, trust, renewed confidence and contact with others – and apply them in their chosen directions. This may be a return to school, or contact with estranged families, or a commitment to social change and to helping others in similar circumstances.

Circus Circle work, and to see the pleasure youth take in their new abilities, to see their growth, their determination and their role as teachers, mentors and performers, is to see lives that have been radically changed and given new direction.