The Academy offers professional training in circus performance and real-world skills for life on the touring circus.
On average, ACA students will spend over 40 hours per week in physical and vocational training.
Based on previous ACA course outcomes, our training goals for the Academy are…
450+ hours in direct teacher contact training
200+ hours in vocational & trouping skills training
100+ hours rehearsal & practice time
25+ public workshops
75+ public performances
The Academy of Circus Arts course is roughly organized into three general sections. Students sit down for an in-depth interview with the ACA’s Curriculum Director to open a discussion of their aptitudes and objectives for the course. This includes the skills they wish to acquire and the act(s) they wish to develop, along with their immediate employment and overall career aims. Goals are set and a personalized training regimen is agreed upon by all parties.
In the first several weeks of training we encourage all students to try a wide variety of skills from the basic circus disciplines of acrobatics and aerials, manipulation, equilibristics, and comedy. Group classes in dance, tumbling, trampoline, conditioning and flexibility are the norm at this time. Those students who already have solo acts in development will work one-on-one with the artist-instructors to hone their skills and ready their acts for public performance. Several ensemble production numbers are rehearsed and students are tutored in presentation, choreography, costuming, stage makeup, comedy formula and other stagecraft, as well as given instruction in basic health and safety, fire safety, risk assessment and other workplace trainings. In addition, students have opportunity to join Equity VAF, the UK trade union for professional performering artists. Equity members enjoy a wide range of benefits and more information can be found here. The first gala performance takes place at the end of the first month and every student will appear in the ring.
Moving into the performance season, students will begin to work more one-on-one with their trainers, developing their preferred skills and building their solo acts over the next two months. Those who have not yet put their solo acts in front of an audience will do so as they become performance ready. Many of the vocational trouping skills that are so necessary to touring life are also learned as the ACA travels the UK, performing at festivals, fairs, galas and other events. Students gain valuable experience in tent construction, rigging, prop-building and equipment maintenance, front of house duties, concessions and sellings, as well as the many skills necessary for setting out the circus backlot and living in travelling accommodations. Many students develop new interests and discover skills they never knew they had while on tour!
The final month of the course is spent focusing on act refinement, as students concentrate on honing their presentation skills in performance. This time period is crucial to the preparation of individual acts for the Graduation Showcase performance and for professional development for post-graduate employment. Students also have the opportunity to meet with a professional circus agent, who will assess their skills and personal goals, then begin to work on their behalf, seeking available employment opportunities for those students who wish it. At the end of the course we have our Graduation Showcase, in which each student has the opportunity to perform their individual and ensemble acts before an invited audience of circus and entertainment industry representatives and agents. Friends and family are also invited to this exciting gala event!