A Nelson non-profit group has opened Discover Circus in Nelson and will be teaching circus arts to adults and children.
“Circus arts is a loose collection of acrobatic and artistic expression with your body including aerial silks, acro yoga, dance and aerial hoop,” said Caleb Hull, one of the instructors.
“And it also includes flow arts like juggling, contact juggling, and poi (a performance art that involves swinging tethered weights),” said fellow organizer Poppy Herbison.
Discover Circus is located on Baker St. above the Royal in a small gym that used to be a squash court. On Saturday the Star visited their open house and found a steady stream of adults and kids, all fascinated and engaged, experimenting with silks, hoops and acrobatics.
From left: Poppy Herbison and Caleb Hull in an acro yoga pose, Julia Langham, Gabe Cretien, Phill Maher, Joy Weick (with hoop) and Kyla Shynkar are all instructors at Discover Circus. All photos by Bill Metcalfe.
“The response today has been phenomenal,” Hull said. “There are lots of excited people here. There was a line-up at the door when we opened this morning. This is our second month of operation and we have filled most of our classes for February.”
“Kids really take to it and people are infatuated with the silks,” said Herbison. “It’s so accessible, you don’t have to be a gymnast or have a background in dance, and you don’t have to come with a partner. Come from wherever you are, and you will impress yourself.”
Hull likes the non-competitive aspect.
“My background is in competitive gymnastics and then I moved on to competitive rock climbing and then did a lot of skiing, always looking for something physical but I had a problem with the competitive part. This I find is a really inclusive and accessible way to explore motion and body awareness and build strength and flexibility.”
He said his specialty circus art is aerial hoop.
“Julia [Langham, another instructor] and I have performed in a duo act. All through last summer we did the opening of Shambhala and several other music festivals throughout the Kootenays. I have also have performed acro yoga with Poppy.”
“Acro yoga is partner acrobatics with elements of yoga mixed in,” said Herbison, who grew up in Argenta. She got into horseback riding and partner balancing when she was 12.
Poppy Herbison and Kyla Shynkar
“I grew up riding horses and always really loved that connection of natural horsemanship and building partnership, and working with another being. Then in Nelson I got introduced to acro yoga which introduced me to the world of yoga and aerials. Acro yoga was like the ultimate blend of physical movement and communication and consent.”
So she spent a summer in Montreal training to be an acro yoga trainer.
Asked what the group hopes to achieve, Hull said “As a non-profit our mandate is to promote the circus arts in the community. We offer artists a place to train and refine their craft. We want to extend to the community the joy we get out doing this.”
At Hull’s mention of joy, Herbison broke into a big smile.
“The more people who get into what you are into,” she said, “the more contagious it is, and you share. It’s really exciting when you discover that other people think it’s cool too.”
Discover Circus’ class schedule can be found at discovercircus.ca.
Joy Weick teaches Ali Thornton at the open house.