The Importance of Being Humble

By Julaine Hall

In this very small circus community, it is easy to meet people and reconnect several times after. Whether it be on purpose, or accident, you will probably wind up seeing that friend you made at the festival, or that student you had for a workshop, or that guest coach that came to your school several times after you first met. Everything in this community is tightly knit and interconnected which makes it all the more important to make a good impression and be humble to everyone you meet.

Before we begin, the definition of humble according to the Oxford dictionary is “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance,” which I know sounds kind of sad, but it is always better to underestimate your importance than to gloat and come off as rude or entitled. I have been coached by a lot of different people with a lot of different personalities and backgrounds. Every coach who I have been coached under, who has earned their students’ respect, has always been humble and kind, no matter their level. Their response to compliments are always down to earth, kind, and sometimes funny! Being humble is a sign of respect for all things. If you can be humble, you can also be respected.


In terms of peers and students, someone who is humble may not always receive the most praise but they deserve it. I have met, toured, performed, trained, and been in classes with many people who were modest and many who were not. I would much rather hang out with the down to earth person who can juggle 5 balls and do a standing back tuck, than someone who is full of themselves who can juggle ten and do a standing double back tuck. Sure, circus is about art, and it’s competitive, and you want to show that you are good to those around you, but you also have to remember, you’re going to have to collaborate and work in a team. In any show, you’re going to have to get along with people and not be cocky. If you don’t humble yourself, life will do it for you and it will sting a lot more when life does it.


Humble people are the best people to hang out with in my opinion because they restore my faith in society! I know it can be so hard to be humble, because as acrobats and aerialists, we are all literally attempting to defy gravity! You can always improve in every way because there is no such thing as perfect. I am going to start checking in with myself more often about my humbleness and I encourage every circus artist to do the same. We all have to




Hup Squad’s Favorite At-Home Conditioning Drills

Hey circusers!

We know that many of you are not able to circus in your normal way right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your circus on! Check out these at-home conditioning drills from our Hup Squad!

Submitted by Lacy:

My favorite conditioning drill is to a song called “Flower” by Moby. You can do this drill many different ways and the instructions are simple, just listen to the music and every time the lyrics say ”green sally up” you go up and when it says “green sally down” you go down, in between you hold whatever position was last said. You can do this with squats, high & low planks, push-ups, V-ups, and whatever else you can think of. For example if you are doing high low planks you would start in a high plank position with straight arms, then when you hear “green sally down” you would transfer to a plank on your elbows and repeat until the song ends. This is a quick workout because the song only lasts about three and a half minutes. Despite this it is very effective.

Submitted by Tessa:

My favorite at home circus conditioning is 30 v ups, followed by a 30 second hollow body hold, 30 second tuck ins from the hollow body and repeat.

I also love plank on elbows to plank on arms, 5 push-ups and repeat three times.

Submitted by Julaine:

My favorite exercises for at home are…

–  Handstand holds (free standing and belly toward the wall)

– “Suicides” or “Relays” (pick four different relay points and a starting point across a runnable stretch of ground. Start at the starting point, run and touch the first relay point, run back to the starting point and touch it, now, go to the second starting point, run back, run to next point, run back, run to final point, run back… that equals 1 rep)

– Holding hollow hold while solving Rubik’s cube, knitting, or playing catch.

-Wide pull-ups, wide chin-ups, regular pull-up, regular chin-up.

– Pistol Squats (Squats on 1 leg, you can use a wall or a “candlestick roll” to build up to it)

-Stair runs

-Arch holds (feet together and arms by your head. Hold as high as you can.

-“Plank hold (or any hold) Music Roulette” (Go to a playlist that has a bunch of pumped up jams and just swipe, then press! Are you holding for 2:31? 4:09? Maybe 3:47? You won’t know until you start going!)

Submitted by Maia:

Here are two of my favorite conditioning drills! All you need for these is a yoga mat or a floor that you feel comfortable lying down on.


-Start lying on your back in a hollow-body position (legs together, arms by your sides. Abs engaged with legs and arms hovering just off the floor)

-Tuck-up – come to a balanced sitting position with your knees bent and arms parallel to your shins.

-Return to your hollow-body.

-V-up – come back up to your balanced sitting position with legs extended straight, reaching for your toes.

-Return to hollow-body.

-Side Tuck-up – Just like your first tuck-up, except both arms reach across your body to the left while your knees crunch in to the right.

-Return to hollow-body.

-Other Side Tuck-up – Repeat your side tuck-up, but send your arms to the right and your knees to the left.

-Return to hollow-body and repeat the whole sequence!

I like to shout “Tuck! V! Side! Side!” while I do this to help keep the timing of the exercise. If you like to listen to music while conditioning, this exercise goes along well with most songs because it has four parts, so your favorite song can also help you keep a consistent tempo. You can do as many reps of this exercise as you choose – I like to keep going as long as I can while maintaining my form. Then I will “swim” in a hollow-body (gently kicking my legs and moving my arms up and down while staying engaged on my back) for another minute or so.

This is a very simple ab workout, but I find it to be an effective way to warm up and activate my core quickly and efficiently.


To activate and warm up my legs before I do any stretching, I start with my favorite kick sequence. I like to use ankle weights, but these exercises work just as well without if you don’t have access to ankle weights at home.

-Start lying on your back with your left foot planted on the floor, knee bent, and your right leg extended straight on the ground. You can extend your arms out to the side in a T position or lace your fingers behind your head.

-8 kicks to the front with your right leg, trying to get your knee to your nose (but don’t actually hit yourself in the face). Repeat on the left.

-Roll over to your side with both legs straight. You can prop yourself up on your bottom forearm.

-8 kicks to the side. Make sure you keep your turn out in your leg so that your knee is turned to the ground at the top of your kick. Repeat on the left.

-Come to hands and knees table-top position. Extend right leg straight back.

-8 kicks – bringing your right leg up to your shoulder. Try to keep your hips from moving out of alignment. Repeat on the left.

-8 kicks to the back, bending your knee at the top and arching. Repeat on the left.

-From your table-top position, lower from your hands onto your forearms.

-8 kicks to the back, keeping your leg straight the whole time. Repeat on the left.

Submitted by Rachel:

The best one I think is to work on the tricks that you maybe have not worked on at the gym because you would rather do something else. For example, handstands and press drills can be such an easy and rewarding thing to practice because they don’t take much space and can really help your other skills, too. Another one is juggling since it’s really just something that takes time, that you now have! And you can learn to juggle with pretty much anything (I taught my friend how to juggle with orange peels), and it doesn’t take up too much room (over a bed if there’s fragile stuff everywhere). Plus, there’s an infinite amount of juggling tricks (and you can make some up if you want) and so many videos on YouTube with cool juggling moves.

As for conditioning, the article I wrote (Tips on Injury Prevention) I think has a few good exercises that can be done at home, but for cardio, if you live in a house with stairs, maybe run up and down the stairs.

Another piece of advice is to try to connect with your circus group if you have one and do stretching or exercises over FaceTime. My troupe is actually going to do conditioning and stretching together over the app house party today, just so we can motivate each other and get some needed human interaction.

Submitted by Carleigh:

One of my favorite drills is a squat series from Suspend in Louisville! You start with 8 normal squats, then 8 plié squats (like a normal squat with feet turned out instead of straight forward).

After than you repeat with every number counting down from 8. So, after 8 of each, you do 7 of each, then 6 of each, then 5 and so on.

Another one of my favorites is backwards sit ups! This is where you lay on your stomach with something holding your feet down, maybe a family member or even just put your feet under a couch, then you try to lift your chest up off of the ground without using your hands. Your hands could be on your head or straight out in front of you and you are trying to lift up as much as possible. To make it harder you could try to go as high as you can and hold it. For the more bendy people the goal could be to try to reach back and touch whatever or whoever is holding your feet!

Submitted by Calista:

I would recommend, if you can, to have your regular teacher create a strength and stretch routine just for you.  They know you best and know what parts you need to work on to continue your training (for me it is my strength and maintaining my core).  Remember that your teachers may be out of work and arranging for a creation of a routine for you may also help them; mine have all been willing and able- using zoom to show me anything I do not understand. And, please, please remember to warm up!

Flexibility is important for me- so center splits against the wall and bridges against the wall to maintain back flexibility.

For strength, I walk across the floor on my hands, touching my shoulders with each “step.”

Here are the sites I am using for free online training during the school closures:

Acrobatic Arts (Instagram):  Flexibility and conditioning, live streamed through Instagram

CLI studios:  Dance classes live streamed, times listed on their Instagramor Facebook

I also zoom with my friends and we create our own challenges.

Submitted by Emily:

*NEW* UNICYCLE ABS! (5 min. Plank Workout) by cirqueLIFE:

This video has some great conditioning drills. I find it is a lot more fun to train with other circus people than by yourself and that can be especially hard when socially distanced. ‘Training’ with Cirque Du Soleil artists from Totem can help to fill that gap, without even having to use Zoom or FaceTime!

Handstands on the Wall: Kick up to a handstand so that your back is on the wall and hold for as long as you want.  If you’re looking to get in some great conditioning, try doing 3-5 sets of 1 minute on the wall with a 1 minute break in between.  Or if you want to work on holding your handstand on the ground, try to gently kick of the wall and hold for as long as you can, only balancing by tapping one of your feet on the wall periodically.

Tips for Performing in Front of an Audience

By Mags Farrell

You may or may not be familiar with the terms, “Introvert and Extrovert.” I’ll give a brief description about what they mean. Introverts are associated with reserved behavior, tending to be more shy and quiet in social situations. Extroverts however, tend to be more outgoing and expressive when surrounded by others. So what does this have to do with performing in front of an audience? For an Extrovert, this might be easier to do. Hopping up on that stage and getting the job done would come off as no problem. For an Introvert however, this situation would play out in a completely different way. From their point of view, it’s a little like this. Every person in the audience is watching you, waiting for your next big grand trick. The attention is overwhelming, overpowering, too much to handle. The cheers are one of two things: Louder than a shampoo bottle falling over in the shower, or that eerie silence that occurs when you do something you know you’re not supposed to do. There is no in between. At least not for an Introvert. You can take it from me, a former Introvert. I say former because I find myself with little to no problem performing in front of an eager audience these days, and that’s because I reassured myself with a few simple tips, which I will now share.


One of the most popular pieces of advice I’ve been given for overcoming stage fright is, “Picture everybody in their underwear,” which is dumb for multiple reasons. For starters, doesn’t that make it even weirder considering you’re the only one clothed? We can go ahead and throw that out the window. So what else? Remind yourself that you’re not the only one performing. There are multiple routines and acts besides yours, so it’s not your responsibility to carry the show. Unless of course, you’re a one person show. Under those circumstances, it’s easy to mess up. Play off your mistake with a joke, or a witty expression to the audience. If you can perform in front of your friends, you can surely perform in front of an audience, right? Okay okay, I can hear you all screaming in the back, “Performing in front of your friends is easier than an audience where you barely know half the names of the people in it. You’re being closed minded Mags.” But see, here’s the thing. An audience of people you barely know and a group of friends you know like the back of your hand are the same thing at the circus! We’re all one big circus family, cheering on and supporting each other no matter what! No one is out to get each other, or prove that they’re better than the rest. And nothing is gonna happen if you mess up. The ground isn’t gonna open up and start emitting dinosaurs to the top ground. The trees aren’t just gonna grow arms and legs and start roaming the earth. Not only is that scientifically impossible, we can all agree that it just isn’t gonna happen, right? 


Let’s talk about that a little more, mess ups. They’re very common, all too common. If you’ve ever said to anyone, “I’ve never messed up in my life,” It’s very obvious that you’re lying. Come on, you’re not an alien, you’re human. Unless you’re not a human. Shout out to all the other species out there. Back on topic, “What if you forget your lines, or your next big trick on your apparatus?” One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been told about this situation is that the audience doesn’t have to know that, and they don’t! Going into depth about what I said earlier, play it off with a joke, or use body movements to fill that empty void of stillness. There’s no way the audience is gonna know your routine from top to bottom. I can confidently say there isn’t one show I’ve done where I didn’t mess up at least once, but I didn’t let the audience know that, because i didn’t have to.


I’ll present a few examples to dumb it down a little. On the 27th of February 2020, I got the chance to perform at my school in a variety show. I had two jobs. One of which was to perform a Juggling routine from an earlier show. When it was my turn, I got up on stage and did the routine as best as I could. In my first minute, I ended up dropping the last catch of my trick. So what did I do? I improvised, looked up to the audience and shrugged. Playing off of this mistake, I purposely dropped the last catch of the rest of my tricks, except for the last one. The crazy part is (get this) the audience didn’t notice a thing! If they did notice, they’re automatically good people in my book because they didn’t say a thing. One more example, I promise I won’t take too much of your time. Wise Fool New Mexico has an annual summer camp show where the kids take the skills they’ve learned over the past two weeks and put it into a show. During the last 2019 show, my brother and his two friends had a scene that was supposed to introduce a Dragon into the story. I wouldn’t be telling this story if something didn’t go south, and it did! The Dragon prop was delayed for whatever reason and missed it’s cue. So what did they do? What could they have possibly done in that situation? Did they cry? Did they tense up? Not at all. They went with the flow, improvising jokes and claims questioning the Dragon’s existence. And it worked! The audience wasn’t even suspicious, and just like that they had convinced the audience that the show went exactly as planned!

And now, the last tip I’ll be disclosing and arguably the best (drum roll please)… don’t be worried about what other people think about you, they’re too busy worrying about what you think of them! Think about it. You’re never gonna get up on that stage if you let other people’s opinions hold you back, and that’s on period. There are bigger fish to fry, like the critics who boo people for nothing but their own enjoyment. That’s disgusting.

Tips on Injury Prevention

By Rachel Ostrow

We all know the rush of finally getting a new trick after so many hours of strain, sweat, hard work, (and chalk). How proud we are, and should be! Although, one misstep and all that hard work can easily go down the drain. We have all experienced when the smallest movement tweaks our ankle, wrist, or knee, and the discomfort doesn’t go away for months! Or ever! These accidents seem to happen more and more often as the level of circus tricks increase, which can be, quite literally, a huge pain. 

As someone who has had plenty of setbacks due to injuries, I have learned (unfortunately the hard way) to appreciate how certain exercises and warm-ups help to prevent these accidents. And over time, I have compiled some exercises that I learned from trusted coaches, physical therapists, or discovered on my own that I believe make a real difference in preventing injuries, and helping to build overall strength. Although, before I share them, keep in mind that circus is a dangerous sport, and exercises work differently on different bodies, so you should always be careful while testing new ones out. That being said, here are the exercises (and general tips) that I would recommend incorporating into your warm-up. 

**for some of the harder to explain or less well known tricks, I found a video of people demonstrating the skill on youtube, so just click the blue underlined text

Calf Raises: 

Calf raises are an amazing way to warm up your legs and feet while also strengthening your ankles. They can be done quickly if you are working more dynamic movements, or slowly if you want to work more on waking up your ankles and calves. If these become too easy, you can also do them on one leg or on a step. Holding the dip down from a calf raise can also be a great stretch for aerial toe hangs.

Handstand Blocks: 

Handstand blocks (and some other more difficult drills) are not only great for tumblers warming up dynamic movements, but can be super useful for pretty much any apparatus. This is because handstand blocks really warm up and engage your shoulders, and shoulder strength is super important for anything where you are hanging or just generally moving your arms a lot. Since this exercise requires good body lines and form to be executed correctly, it can also bring to light those specific areas to work on in your handstands or tumbling. 

Jump Squats: 

Jump Squats not only warm up your body for more dynamic movements but they also warm up your glutes, which help with stability. They are also just a great way to warm up your knees, legs, and body in general, since when done energetically can be a form of cardio (like jogging or jumping jacks). 

Core engaging abs: 

Go with whatever core engaging ab exercises help you warm up for your particular apparatus. If you want to warm up for aerial and you want a more difficult version of an ab exercise, combined with the stamina of hanging, stall bars leg lifts would be great. If you are a tumbler, maybe consider a set of tuck ups where you can combine abs and form refinement (since the correct reaching position at the top of a tuck up is also the ideal position and dynamic movement required for a back tuck). It is absolutely not a requirement to feel like you are pushing your limits, but rather wake up your abdominal muscles so they can perform best when you actually begin training. 


One big thing about warm ups is that they aren’t necessarily used just for conditioning, they are also used to discover if there are any tight muscles or areas where your body has some unexpected weakness. These areas may behave fine throughout your normal day’s activities, but can be uncomfortable when doing circus skills, and can become a potentially dangerous issue if you throw a hard skill before discovering the weakness. This happens pretty frequently, especially in my experience with tumblers, since one unexpected reaction from a joint can lead to a painful landing or an ankle sprain. 

Some exercises that can help with this identification are the ones that require you to engage many of your muscles while doing that exercise. A good example is holding a handstand (with or without a wall), since everything needs to be pretty active, and it is easy to get a general sense of how your muscles and joints are engaging. Another exercise that my current coach uses for this is standing on one foot with your eyes closed. This really helps with balance and understanding your present state, but it is also a great way to center yourself and focus before you start training. 

Start with the basics: 

I cannot stress this enough, if you are doing a trick that can be dangerous, or is on the newer side, then do a slightly easier version during the warm up. For example, don’t connect two skills that are usually connected, warm them up seperately. Or, move your apparatus closer to the ground. Or, if you usually spin while doing the trick, warm it up without spinning. Use these modifications to make sure you are capable of doing the tricks with lower stakes before you begin working on the harder versions, instead of just jumping right in. This does not take much time, and can drastically reduce risk of injury. Doing this easier trick successfully can also boost confidence and help with consistency in the long run.


I did not specify a number of repetitions for any of these exercises because it really depends on how strong you are and how many you need to do to feel warm. Since this is a warm up, you should do enough to feel a bit of soreness, but not too much that you are going to tire yourself out. I would start with the lowest number you can do and feel warm, and then work this number up as time goes on. 

Ultimately, you are going to be the one making choices to protect your body. I seldom do a really extensive warm up, but these exercises help so much in the long run, and can be done so efficiently, that I now have the habit of doing them before any intense skills. They will definitely help with injury prevention and building strength (leading to harder, cooler tricks). And to state the obvious, it sucks to be out due to injuries, or even just not functioning at your best level. So, I highly recommend trying these or finding others that you like better.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and good luck with your circus careers and avoiding injuries!

Hey, Hup Squad – What was your favorite circus related moment or experience of this year?

A Compilation of our 2019 Hup Squad Members

Maia Castro-Santos

My favorite circus-related experience from this year was definitely performing with Circus Smirkus. I am so fortunate to have been able to travel across New England, sharing my passion with an audience that extended beyond just family and local community members. The best part of Tour was meeting and befriending 29 other teenagers who shared my interests and weren’t afraid to embrace their eccentricities. Over the three months spent preparing and performing the show, I made friends that I know will last me a lifetime. As cliché as it sounds, Smirkus really is a family, and I am so honored to be involved with this organization.

Maia last post 2019

Maia Casto-Santos


Julaine Hall

This has been a crazy, fun, circus-opportunity-filled-year for me! I don’t think I could pick a favorite activity or moment so here is one of my many favorites! This autumn, I auditioned for Acrobatic Conundrum’s one weekend show, “Unraveling.” It is a show about rope and rope artists… It’s an all-rope opus! The creation process has been incredibly fun and I have already been working with several super talented rope artists. The show has pushed me to do more rope, gain more skills, and be more explorative in my skills and pathways. Working with others is always a special treat, especially when we’re all working together on one of my favorite apparatuses. If you are interested… You can click this link for more info on the show and tickets.


Carleigh Saberton

There have been so many amazing circus moments I’ve gotten to experience this year. From being a mermaid on aerial hammock to going to circus camp and taking classes and coaching at My Nose Turns Red to performing all over, my favorite has to be going to and performing at the American Youth Circus Festival in San Diego with my circus friends! I loved all of the workshops and the performances were amazing. A very close second would be when I went to Disney before the festival with one of my circus friends, David, and took the opportunity to get awesome partner acrobatic pictures! (Apologies to Disney because they told us we couldn’t do that after we did it, oops!) I’m very much looking forward to making many more circus memories with all of my great friends!

Carleigh last post 2019

Carleigh Saberton and David


Tessa Wallington

This year has been a circus rollercoaster ride! After recovering from a severe injury, I have achieved many goals. Beginning my professional career, I joined the Los Angeles-based troupe Le PeTiT CiRqUe while also continuing to grow as an artist at my home studio, Trapeze Las Vegas. Some highlights include performing with my acro group at the amazing Baobab Theater in a  gothic cabaret, doing ambiance at the Youth Artist Awards in Hollywood, and doing work at the Larger than Life gala held at the world famous Beverly Hilton. This year has taught me to never give up when things get challenging. Without my teammates, coaches, parents, and friends, I would never have been able to achieve what I did this year. I can’t wait to see where this ride takes me next. 

Tessa final post 2019

Tessa Wallington


Nathalie Morton

My favourite circus moment of 2019 was very recently at the November Regional AYCO festival at Circus Warehouse. I had never been to an AYCO event before and I had even more fun than I expected. It was an all day event where we took several different hour long classes and concluded with a showcase. I learned so many new skills and was really forced out of my comfort zone in the best way while trying out all sorts of different aparati, such as aerial cube and chinese pole. My favourite class of the day was called invisible transitions on silks where I was able to learn seamless ways to execute sequences that I’ve known for years. I would recommend trying out AYCO festivals to any young circus artist looking to advance their skills and to have a blast meeting new people just like them.


Chelsea McIntosh

One great circus experience I had this year was seeing the show A Magical Cirque Christmas at the Aronoff with my friend Carleigh. There were many entertaining acts including partner straps, lyra, partner acrobatics, diablo, and many more. The show really showed me what could come from my circus activities if I work hard and continue with my circus journey. It was encouraging to see that I had performed some of the tricks the performers in the show did. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had with circus.

Chelsea last post 2019

Chelsea McIntosh and Carleigh Saberton


Bronyn Mazlo

This summer I decided to challenge myself physically and mentally by applying for the San Diego Circus School’s Master Youth Intensive. It consisted of five grueling weeks of pain, sweat, and sore muscles, but I loved every second of it. It pushed me as both an artist and a person. The community at SDCC is so exceptional. From the moment you step through their door, you are welcomed into a family. The people I met at this intensive became my best friends, and not a day goes by when I don’t miss them all. To top it off, at the end of the intensive I was able to participate in the 2019 AYCO Festival in San Diego, which was a fantastic finale to an unforgettable summer. 


Nola Millet

This year I was lucky enough to have an abundance of wonderful circus experiences. I got to see a couple of really great shows, choreograph and perform many acts, and attend lots of interesting circus events. My favorite thing to do is go to workshops and learn new ways of executing tricks. I definitely learned a lot this year, especially in regards to strengthening and contortion techniques. One workshop that I really enjoyed was a stretching class taught by Micah Walters. 

I think my favorite experience overall was the AYCO Festival in San Diego. Fortunately I got to miss school so that I could attend, and it was a really great experience. I took some valuable workshops that taught new skills, and I got to try new apparatuses, which I really enjoyed. My favorite thing was working on straps, because we don’t do that much at our studio. I also really liked how there were student performances at the festival because it was amazing to see how impressive everybody was, especially in the acro field. I’m grateful that I got to see and be in the festival this year, because there were so many inspiring performers, and I hope that I can go next year too.


Ava Kapelczak

I have had many amazing moments as a circus performer but one of my favorite circus moments ever was when I performed for San Diego’s Feeding America. This was among my first paid gig for San Diego Circus Center and it was a great experience for me as an aerialist. I performed a duo Lyra routine to a very mysterious yet upbeat song. The place in which I performed was beautiful and full of vivid colors like pink, orange and purple. Backstage there were also a bunch of other performers that were extremely talented and they were very inspiring to watch. I performed with a girl named Linsey and we had such a great time creating the routine a few weeks before. Backstage we were both so nervous, especially when we had to get set on different sides for the routine. It was so cool that I was able to perform beside all of the seasoned professionals. A few moments later it was showtime. While I was backstage I was super nervous but as soon as I stepped out I felt right where I was meant to be. We performed our routine and got plenty of applause. After I walked off Linsey and I met up backstage and talked about how much fun we had. We were both so proud of each other and we were also so sad that it was all over so fast. This was a very memorable moment in my circus career that I will never forget.

Ava last post

Ava Kapelczak


Cora Williams

This summer I went to the Montréal Circus Festival and saw a show called Finale. Finale was an upbeat and energetic show by Analog. Analog is a circus company based in Germany. They were founded in 2013 and are all about telling real-life stories in their shows.  

Finale was so different than all the other shows I had ever seen. There was lots of live music like a drummer and a vocalist who added to the excitement of the show. It had me at the edge of my seat the whole time. Something about it was so fresh and different. All the acts were amazing, and they were all so unique and exciting. The clowning moments were hilarious and the drumming and singing was stunning. There was a variety of acts including Lyra, Handstands, and Hoop Diving. I think that the differences in all the acts made them so much better. They all told a different story, but they came together. 

I think that one of the reasons I liked the show so much was that I have always wanted to create a show that had that kind of energy to it. A show that got people excited and left them blown away. In the end, all the different elements fit together to make an amazing performance that I still love and remember to this day.


Finale by Analog (photo via


A note from the AYCO staff – Thank you SO MUCH to our incredible Hup Squad this year for all of your hard work and contributions to our blog! Interested in joining the Hup Squad in 2020? Click here to fill out the application (due January 1, 2020)!

Master Youth Intensive Program Review

By Julaine Hall

This summer, I had an experience of a lifetime! I went to the San Diego Circus Center (“SDCC”) and I trained for five weeks, 40+ hours a week along with 14 other circus youth from North America. SDCC put on the Master Youth Intensive (“MYI”) program this year with the help of Cirque du Soleil! This opportunity is one I will never forget and I wanted to share it with all the circus youth out there. So… here’s my experience this year!



First off, a little background information. The MYI is a program for youth ages 15-19 with intermediate to advanced circus skill wanting to improve and grow as athletes and artists. SDCC opens its doors to fifteen eager youth from all around North America for 5 weeks and trains us hard!  Week 6 was prepping and performing for the opening show of the Bi-annual AYCO festival hosted there. It’s fun, it’s hard, it’s sweaty, and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I auditioned by sending in a video application. After I sent in my video, I waited for not very long and they sent me an email confirming my acceptance to the program. 

Next, I had to try and find a place to stay while I trained. I emailed with the program director and he found me a family willing to host me and a few other kids for the summer. We got it squared away for me to stay with them. It was a blast! My house mates consisted of the  host family who’s daughters regularly attend SDCC (one of them was in the intensive with me), their son who is learning tramp-wall, and two other girls – one from Canada and one from the East Coast. It was such fun to share meals, commute together, sing, laugh and have rest days together…. be exhausted together. HAHA! Thanks to my awesome homestay family for opening up their home and being so kind. Thanks to my other roomies for being so friendly and level-headed. 

I feel that by coming to this intensive I opened a lot of doors. I was able to train with coaches from SDCC, recent ENC students and graduates, Cirque du Soleil performers, Cirque du Soleil coaches, and many other knowledgeable guest coaches. All of them had something different and helpful to give to us. Along with fabulous coaching, we got to attend a very informative talk by one of the cirque casting directors. Every day I learned something new. Our leaders, coaches, and role models were fantastic, talented, and very kind people. It was so great to work with other students from all over North America with the same circus goals as me.  As the weeks progressed we all had each others’ backs and we quickly became friends. As I’m writing this, I miss the friends I made there. From training days to rest days it was always a good time. There was never a dull day!  




For our schedule, we had lots going on and something exciting happening all the time. Our days were jam packed! For the first three weeks, we really focused on skill building in apparatuses we knew and some we didn’t. I felt that I gained the most skills in Teeterboard/Korean Plank this summer. I went from just basic knowledge of the apparatus to doing a back tuck return to board out of lines in a show. I also often got placed in the Handstand, Chinese Pole, Rope, Tumbling, Straps, and Trapeze training blocks. As a group, we would have intense sessions of active flex or conditioning usually at the beginning or end of the day. We would always get Sunday off to rest and recover for the next big week. Often, I would spend time with my homestay family or my California-based aunt and uncle on those rest days.  Some Sundays there were group outings to the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park or the beach. For the next two weeks I felt our focus really shifted to preparing the show. We got cast into acts and then created them and ran them through several times. Our director also chose a specific theme we kept in mind while making each act. We also got to work with a stellar clowning coach to make fun group acts and transitions. We had a tech and dress rehearsal then it felt like it came so quick; the grand AYCO fest was upon us! We performed with all of our new-found skills, alongside our now very close friends. I’m certain it is a night than none of us will ever forget! It was magical seeing my and my friends’ hard work culminate into a polished show! 

Now, I bet you’re saying Cirque du Soleil? SDCC? Training in beautiful SoCal? Sign me up! But before you sign up, like any program, you should make sure it’s a good fit for you! Training 6 days a week for hours (M-F, 9-5 and Sat, 10-5) is not for the faint of heart.  It’s a lot of work but well worth it! Anyone willing to put in the work and wanting to devote their summer to bolstering their abilities as circus performers would love this intensive and I would highly recommend it for them. This was a summer I will never forget. I grew and improved in so many ways, met so many amazing people, and had more fun than I could possibly imagine! 




An Interview with Tara Jacob, Executive Director of the American Youth Circus Organization

By Bronyn Mazlo


Tara Jacob, AYCO Executive Director

As a teenegaer, Tara Jacob first fell in love with the fun, creativity, and community she discovered in the circus at The Circus Space in London. Over the years, she founded the Circus Folk Unite! collective at Hampshire College, along with completing the 2012-2013 Professional Track program at the New England Center for the Circus Arts in Vermont. She is currently an instructor at SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton, Massachusetts, instilling her love of circus in the youth of her community. Jacob now holds the exceptional role of Executive Director of AYCO (American Youth Circus Organization), but prior to her promotion she served on the AYCO Board of Directors and worked as AYCO’s Operations Manager.

The intention of the interview below is to introduce Jacob and to share her passion for her new role in the circus community. This interview was conducted by Bronyn Mazlo, a member of AYCO’s Hup Squad.

How did you discover circus and what has your journey been like?

I first discovered circus as a teenager when an outreach program came to my school and taught us stilt walking, juggling, and acrobatics. I was totally hooked – it was so much fun! I moved and there wasn’t a circus school near me, but I did as much circus as I could; gymnastics classes to learn acrobatics, flying trapeze classes, and self-taught juggling. When I got to college, I started a circus club there: Circus Folk Unite! at Hampshire College in MA. I realized I wanted to do everything I could to spread circus arts to others. After college, I did the ProTrack program at the New England Center for the Circus Arts (NECCA), and started teaching youth and adults at SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton, MA. Then I began volunteering with AYCO/ACE, then served as a board member, and then came on as administrative staff. I am very excited to have been named executive director!

How has circus impacted your life?

Doing circus makes me happy! It has also become my career, through teaching circus to others as a coach and helping to advocate for, support, and grow circus arts through my involvement with AYCO/ACE. It’s a part of who I am and how I interact with the world. Circus has also led me to many human connections with new friends and colleagues, and taught me to be tenacious and flexible at the same time.

 You became a part of the AYCO family in 2015. And you became the Operations Manager in 2017. How did those roles prepare you to be the executive director of AYCO?

I have really seen AYCO/ACE from all sides – as a member, event attendee, volunteer, board member, and staff person. I’m familiar with the work and history of the organization. This has given me a lot of insight, and being involved over several years, I’ve seen the organization evolve and grow. I’ve made strong connections with many of our community members and gotten an idea of the challenges we all face, and also know firsthand the passion and resilience of the circus education community.

 As an executive director, what are your responsibilities?

There’s always a lot to do! The executive director represents AYCO/ACE as a whole, balancing big picture visioning with micro tasks and planning. This means that among other  responsibilities, I meet with the Board of Directors, do financial management like budgeting and reporting, manage staff members, supervise programs and communications, help produce events like AYCOfest, EdCon, and regional festivals, engage with board committees, and interface with our members, press and the public! 

What do you find to be the greatest challenges?

Running a non-profit like AYCO/ACE means that there is always a balance of what you want to do and what you can do with limited resources. Our events, programs, and the connections we support are important to the community. Though we always have big dreams, we need to take small steps and raise the support to keep going and growing.

  What’s the best thing about your job?

I love getting to talk to our members — the people and organizations all over the USA who are doing circus in so many different ways. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about the variety and also the common threads through people’s experiences and the work they’re doing to spread circus arts.

 What do you think makes AYCO unique?

AYCO and ACE’s success is because we are for and by the community. As a non-profit, we have always been motivated by our mission to “promote the participation of youth in circus arts and support circus educators”. It is the passion and creativity of our members that keeps us going – especially youth circus members like you!

The article was originally published at, the international online resource for circus professionals


Jenna Lowery, Circus Runaway Photography

Top Ten College Circus Clubs

By Nathalie Morton

Attention senior circus artists! Are you excited and ready to head to college, but do not want to give up your passion for the air? If that answer is yes, then worry no more, there are plenty of choices for you. Here is a list of the top 10 American circus clubs, but don’t forget to take a look at the list below the article for many more options.

#1: Flying High – Florida State University

The FSU circus tradition has been around since 1947 and the Flying High Circus is one of the most serious collegiate circus clubs in the country. A great place to continue your acrobatic education!

#2: Circus Folk Unite – Hampshire College

 A collective of acrobats, jugglers, unicyclers, and other admirers of circus arts who come together in a very collaborative environment. All levels welcomed.

#3: CirqueWes – Wesleyan University

Another great club at a great school. This new group practice and teach circus arts including acro, juggling, handstands, and aerials. Who wouldn’t want to join?

#4: Olin Aerials and Circus – Olin University

A student run club that focuses on general health and wellness through circus exploration. Learn more about yourself with Olin!

#5: Gamma Phi – Illinois State University

Since 1929, Gamma Phi has existed at Illinois State, making it the oldest collegiate circus in the country. It also performs regularly so you’ll get to show off your skills. So much fun mixed with a whole lot of history!

#6: Brown Aerial Arts Society – Brown University

Brown AAS is a student run club that also performs. You can catch some of their shows on youtube to see where you could be next year!

#7: Violet Circus Arts – New York University

The only club in New York City devoted to circus arts. They practice everything from juggling to acro to aerials. 

#8: Elon Circus Club – Elon University

Although this club is mostly ground skill focused, it is a great place to try new things. 

#9: ICircus – Ithaca College

Another serious place to continue your circus training after high school, accompanied by plenty of performance opportunities.

#10: Bates Circus Arts Club – Bates College

Bates CAC is focused on Aerials and is a relaxed place to go and keep up with your acrobatic knowledge. This club also comes with a ton of performance opportunities.

For the full alphabetical list click here! 

Don’t see a club on the list that you know of? Email and we’ll add it!

Book Review: Body Talk, Basic Mime by Mario Diamond

By Julaine Hall


Body Talk, Basic Mime by Mario Diamond is a fabulous guide for anyone interested in learning about mime. I read it having very little mime, basic theater, and some clown knowledge and benefited from it very much. Sure, one can do impressive athletic feats on stage and their audience will clap, but as artists it is our duty to give the audience the best possible experience while still being true to ourselves. Adding a bit of mime, clown, more intention with your movements, or simply thinking about proven techniques to make sure the audience can read your message well can be a great way to elevate your act to the next level. In the beginning, both the forward and introduction had me hungry for more knowledge on the art of mime. After this was a small section of definitions all for the  very same word: mime! Very detailed chapters filled with thoughtful exercises for each body part will cause you to consider the intention you give your movements with a new light. Also included was a thorough portion filled with information on The Seven Axes of mime (The Axes are a way of dividing the body into smaller expressive sections which you will learn more about if you read this book!) We then dive deeper into postures, energy and movement, general exercises such as imitating Chaplin and animals, visual effects, pantomime, and finally, improvisation. From this book, I gained an array of ideas to try to add to some of my old acts or incorporate into my new ones. It is a wonderful resource and I highly recommend it for anyone even the slightest bit interested in anything that has to do with the stage! Or as the dedication in the front says, “To anyone with a need to express themselves and cannot find the words.”

Staying Fit During The Summer

By Carleigh Saberton

If your circus is like mine, there is a time where there are no classes or camps to attend! Circus is my main way of staying active throughout the year so what should I do when I can’t do circus? With the American Youth Circus Festival coming up, we need to make sure we are keeping up with our strength and skills. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stay in shape when circus isn’t an option.

First, you could go to a gym to get a good workout. Fitness centers like Planet Fitness, YMCA, LA Fitness, and Crunch Fitness all have locations all over the U.S. that you could attend. Some gyms, like Planet Fitness, even offer FREE summer memberships for teens! Fitness centers have so many different machines and equipment that you can use during your workouts. If you don’t want to go alone, find a gym buddy! They could be a family member or even a circus friend. Gym buddies help you stay motivated and can help make you more comfortable going to a gym. 

Sometimes going to a gym can get expensive so you can always find ways to workout at home. You can start by turning everyday things into exercises. For example, choose to take the stairs or if you don’t have weights use everyday things such as books, heavy boxes, or even your dog!

Workouts don’t always include pushups, squats, and sit ups. It’s good to have diverse workouts to work all different parts of your body. You can switch between things like yoga, stretching and regular workouts. Also, you don’t have to set a specific time that you must work out, you can just workout or stretch while watching tv, listening to music, or even while scrolling through social media.


A good thing to remember is you need to rest between workouts. Working out breaks down your muscles so they can grow back stronger but if you constantly have tough workouts, your muscles don’t have time to grow back stronger which can lead to injuries if you aren’t careful. 

Other good ways to stay in shape are to take up other activities or sports. Running and swimming are great easy ways to get a good cardio workout in. But if other activities haven’t interested you, you can find other circus things to do at home. One thing to do would be to get your own props so you can practice whenever you want. Unicycle, juggling, hooping, diablo, poi and so many others are all circus activities that you can do at a local park or even in your backyard.

Although, some things such as aerials or German wheel can’t always be done whenever or where ever you want. By doing some research, you can easily find other gyms nearby where you can go to practice those things or even take more classes. For example, there is a gym that focuses on aerial arts near me and I occasionally go to open gym there to practice what I have already learned at my circus, My Nose Turns Red.


Eating healthy is also a very important aspect of staying in shape. Starting a diet can be rough sometimes so it is best to ease into it. Start avoiding foods high in sugar or calories and don’t snack on things too much. Cheating is also a must when on a diet because if you don’t cheat you are more likely to stop dieting. Don’t forget to stay hydrated especially before, during and after working out! Getting enough sleep is also very important because your body needs rest. Not getting enough sleep can be bad for you and will affect your performance when working out or doing circus.

The very most important thing when trying to stay fit is to have fun! If you are miserable then you will lose motivation to keep going. Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, there will always be people better than you but there will also always be people who look up to you. Its very easy to get jealous but with hard work you can become even more amazing than you are now.