Circus school comes to Whitehorse | CBC News
The circus has arrived in Whitehorse. Sort of.
Every Sunday afternoon in October, a group of up to 15 people gather to take part in the Yukon’s first circus school for adults.
Circus Sundays is organized by the Yukon Circus Society, and held at Avalanche Athletics downtown. Participants learn and practice a wide range of circus activities including juggling, aerial hoop acrobatics and silk work.
Graham Rudge is a member of the Yukon Circus Society. He’s also one of the trainers.
“For years we’ve been travelling around the communities and doing circus camps for kids,” Rudge said. “Once we found this place, we thought that we should do something for adults as well because adults need fun too.”
Rudge calls himself a ‘mathlete’ of the circus world.
“I am not an aerialist,” he explained.
“I do stilt walking, uni-cycling and various juggling and prop manipulations. I’m not very good at climbing the silks or getting all of those lovely bruises from the hoops but I am very good at hand-eye coordination.”
The program is funded by the Yukon government. Rudge said the funding goes toward renting the facility and hiring coaches for “self-directed studies.”
“People come here and we do warm ups,” Rudge said.
“We do stretches and then they can go to whichever station they want to learn about. We’ll have a person on staff who can teach that piece of aerial equipment or how to juggle or how to climb the silks without giving yourself serious rug burn.”
Rudge said he hopes to keep the program going even after the funding runs out next month.
“We’ll just have it as a drop-in class,” he said.
“There won’t be instructors on hand to give specific direction. We’ll probably still be here but we’ll be working on our own stuff and hopefully other folks who are interested in circus will come out and practice their stuff as well, and there will be some great collaborations.”
‘Circus is beautiful’
Another trainer at the Circus Sundays program is Whitehorse resident Alyssa Bunce, who said that her love for the circus started at a young age.
“I started going to circus camp when I was 13,” she said. “Then when I was 14, I started teaching and I taught for a couple of years.”
Bunce eventually found herself at the National Circus School in Montreal at the age of 16. Four years later, she was performing with local circus groups in Montreal and later travelled abroad to train and work with other circus performers.
At the Circus Sundays program, she’s teaching aerial hoop, which is her specialty.
“It’s a steel ring that is quite heavy. It weighs about 30 pounds. It’s rigged to some secure rigging points and from there you dance, use acrobatic skills, flexibility and do different movements. There’s many different aerial apparatuses in circus but that’s the one I mostly gravitate toward,” she said.
Bunce says the program is open to all ages and skill levels.
“I think everyone should try,” she said.
“This program, it’s been really exciting to see people coming for the first time, being really brave, trying new things and it’s wonderful to learn that something you never thought your body could do, your body actually can do.
“There’s a place for everyone. You can find your niche in this array of possibilities that circus is. Circus is beautiful.”
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