By Daisy Coleman
During the pandemic, we all experienced a radical change. Whether it was a newfound love for online shopping, devotion to cooking, or even, some new form of circus! I personally took up handstands because I was spending so much time surrounded by walls I might as well use them for something! Here are some experiences my fellow Hup Squaders and AYCO Staff had while they were stuck at home.
Lyra went from training circus 3-4 times a week to training almost everyday after the pandemic hit. She feels that circus was a huge help during the pandemic, because she was able to practice more often, as well as work on her solo pieces. She says that circus was great at keeping her busy when she was spending so much time at home. Lyra also discovered a new studio to train at – Le Petit Cirque – and she explains that this gave her many opportunities that she might not have found.
Olivia trained about the same amount before and during the pandemic – around ten hours a week! She feels that circus was a way for her to regulate her emotions and get away from an “uhealthy mindset.” She was able to grow and learn about herself while in the midst of a very different experience. She feels that she was able to stay positive throughout the pandemic because of this. In addition, Olivia was able to find the time during quarantine to get her teaching certification, and is now able to teach circus!
Annika trained 6 hours a week before the pandemic, but during and after it hit, she trained about 10 hours. She feels that her experience in quarantine during the beginning of the pandemic made her more independent and gave her a chance to focus on flexibility and ground skills. She was also find ways to be creative with circus, like performing at home for other families. She did about 20 shows in only a few months!
Before the pandemic began, Emily trained about 12-15 hours a week, or five days on average. After it began, she was training about 6 hours a week, but worked up to get back into routine, switching up by taking virtual classes as well as pilates training. Emily was able to use the time during the pandemic to train skills and find focus in circus when the outside world felt a little overwhelming. She had the opportunity to be the Festival Assistant for the “Circus International Film Festival,” which is an online festival hosted by Emily, Marisa Diamond, an AYCO board member, and Jonathan Meehan, a Cirque Du Soleil artist who tours with Alegria. In working at CIFF, Emily was able to host interviews with circus professionals, and she got to work behind the scenes and experience fantastic circus films! She feels that this opportunity helped her forge new connections with circus professionals that she might not have otherwise known.
Jocelyn began training 8 hours a week before the pandemic, but during most of quarantine, she began to increase her training, and currently does about 12-13 hours a week. For Jocelyn, circus was a big help through the pandemic, as it gave her a creative space during quarantine, and she was able to channel her boredom into something unique. Specifically, during the pandemic, Jocelyn took many virtual circus classes, and she feels that that was a great way to find her love for circus.
Marah trained about 2-3 hours a week before the pandemic, and after it began, she started training about 3 times a week, or an average of six hours. Marah feels that circus was a great way to stabilize her routine through a period of inconsistency, and by the end of the pandemic’s quarantine she joined her studio’s acrobatics team, increasing the amount of time she trained. She feels that doing both acrobatics and circus are a great way to feel better and keep her healthy at the same time! Marah improved greatly in her basic skills at home, and feels that this was a very interesting observation, because she would not have realized if she was not stuck focusing on the smaller details.
Daisy Coleman (Me!)
Before the pandemic, I trained on average 6-7 hours a week, but now I train about 12-15 hours. During quarantine, I focused a lot on ground skills and conditioning, and I was able to consistently juggle three rings, a skill I did not have before the pandemic! I also really came to appreciate circus, because it gave me a way to be active when I sat on zoom all day, and I came to realize that I wanted to continue training. I found a love for trampoline! I also got to train in my studio’s (Aloft Circus Arts) “Jolt” program, a circus intensive that ended with a performance of our solo acts. During Jolt, I trained about three hours a day, five days a week. This was a great opportunity for me because I had the chance to train with adults, and I loved that experience.
Before the pandemic, Audrey (one of Hup Squad’s excellent directors!) trained about 5 hours a week, and by the end had increased it to 10, being able to train at home. Audrey feels that circus during the pandemic was both a help and that there was “a feeling of loss,” as well. Having the chance to train in a new way (over Zoom) and work with old friends was great, but it was also challenging for her to not be able to collaborate with others in person, or to be able to move around quite as much. Audrey did also have the opportunity to work as a creator and audience member of performances online, a new and exciting (if not a little challenging) adventure. Audrey also had the chance to make a stop motion trapeze routine video that she says would not have been thought of if not for the pandemic. (you can watch it here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ4B0ZfYPg8)
Ashley, Director of Communications for AYCO, trained seven days a week both before and during the pandemic. She feels that circus was in fact a huge help, and a chance to see how people got creative with their training at home, using their resources. She was also able to read more about the body and become educated on circus even more in depth! She also got to give back to the community by hosting an online training program for free, creating workouts everyday and sharing them for anyone to participate. Ashley says that this was a great way to stay connected and to lift each other up!