Aerial Masterclass

November 2015 – Neerpelt (Belgium)


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Rigging, safety, equipment and responsibility:

Also check
 Circus Rigging by Noé Robert


Fun games for warming up for juggling techniques

Before you begin

These exercises – on the edge of fear – will make you (and your particpants) wide awake. While doing warming-up exercises, you keep the group excited all the time!

Please note:

  • Do not do this with untrained people.
  • Start with just small, simple and general warming-up the joints like roll shoulders, etc.
  • Use rhythm to keep attention.
  • End the warming-up games session with a group stretch for shoulders: stand in a circle as a group, hands around each others shoulders and then help each other to stretch.

Very important:

  • With small kids avoid competition. The younger the group, the less competition the better.
  • Practice the games with the mats a few times to be able to feel comfortable.
  • You need to know your self and your group very well.

Later on you can do for instance the Rugby Game: divide the group in two’s: one person tries to hold the other at the hips to prevent him from reaching the middle of the circle.

Description and aims of the session:

First you lay down on the floor. Now you find your personal impulse and use it to get into motion. Then use this impulse to move in the air. Don’t think about what you want to do, let the impulse move you. It is not new, you just use a different way to get into positions you already know.
>>Fundamental is that to find your personal impulse, you start with 1 emotion, coming from yourself, influenced by music and external factors. This takes time.

The most interesting, funny, important discovery in this session:
First it is very difficult, but the rhythm makes it much more playful. For 10-year olds you can adapt the exercise by telling them to go to an end position but the way to get there is from an impulse.

The most important insights regarding your knowledge on handling fear and safety when teaching in this particular topic:Make sure you don’t hurt yourself – so first do a warming up.

To find your impulse, Valentina advises a three week research – don’t expect a 1 hour session to be enough.

Other topics:
The project gave Valentina the opportunity to discover much more. The technique stays the same but allows you to find a different way to get there.

NOTE: it is annoying to do this work with silks, because you need much more preparation and it is more difficult to be surprised into a trick.

Make a circle with 6 to 8 persons around the knotted silk. Move it around.
You cannot move your feet.
If the silk hits you, you have to go to another group

You choose someone in the circle as a friend and you choose another one as an enemy.
Nobody can know.
When you start walking, your friend has to be between you and your enemy ALL THE TIME.
Reverse roles when the person leading the game gives a signal.

Friend & Enemy can also be played underneath a crash mat (or if you are with a bigger group use 2 mats).
Don’t do this with untrained people.
With all mat games you need to practice a few times to be able to feel comfortable.
When working with small kids, do not use competition.
You need to know your group and yourself very well.
> All particpants are holding a mat above their heads.
> One lets the mat go, crawls over, crawls under and rejoins : everyone does this.
> Lying underneath a mat:
Push up with your arms:
Same with someone on top of it,
One lets go, crawls over, under and rejoins.
> Lying underneath: balancing the mat on your feet:
> Running with mats in circles:
Run one circle, then throw mat on the floor and the whole group sits on the mat.
Same with one person on top of the mat.
One runner breaks out, runs around the mat and joins the group again.
> Running with mats straight lines
Flip with someone on it
Flip in other side with someone on it.
> Sliding the mats (depends on the floor)
With 2, 3, 4, 5 persons

Also known as:
Ein zwei drei Ochs am Berg(und ein Zwerg) or: Punainen valo valahti yksi kaksi kolme,
We call it One two three Trapeze using aerial exercises in it.
On the way to the person who calls out, you need also to do some given exercices like roll on the ground, shout out your name, climb on the silks, hang on the trapeze….before you are allowed to run to the shouter

In pairs, every duo is playing at the same time
The great fun is working together, and it is nice to do with a whole group, it speeds up the energy. ..
Take care of safety and of warming-up positions

Play some music.

Whenever you want , you make a statue. This can be an aerial position on the floor,

To free somebody, go and copy the position of another person and then this person can continue.

Use high and low positions.

9. Wolf and Tail

Start with warming-up, first just small general warming-up of the joints.
All participants hold on to a rope in a circle.
One has a scarf – his or her tail- and there is a wolf, outside of the rope running around, trying to get the tail while changing directions etc.

AIMS of this game:

  • To enable a free exploration of movements that are fundamental to developmental movement/wellbeing.
  • To offer a structure in which there is no right or wrong – we experiment with each movement and all explorations and choices are valued.

Start with music and walking around the room. If the music stops, find a position to see the world upside down. Variations:

  • crawling any way you like across the floor
  • spinning around in any kind of form
  • jump
  • shake

NOTE: focus on experimenting

  • Moving through the room, watching and touching the aerial material and use all the positions you did on the floor now using the material, with the same variations of shaking, spinning, etc… take lots of time and have lots of materials to choose from.

The taggers hold a piece of juggling material in their hands. For example, if a tagger holds a club and tags you, you need to do 2 push-ups, etcetera. Just choose whatever you want them to do to warm up.
You can not be tagged if you are jumping, but if the tagger turns around in front of you he can!
Exercise: Warming up in a circle: turn your arms but don’t take a lot of space. Come closer and take notice of the others, until you are shoulder to shoulder. Then put your arms around your neighbours and stretch together.

Everybody is walking around the room. Somebody says:
– I am falling – the others run to catch, or
– I want to fly – the others lift this person|
You can add:
– I need some space – the others back away.
Everybody can call whenever they want.

Dancing with all kinds of aerial equipment in the space. When the music stops and you are the last one to het up in the air you need to do for example 3 push ups, sing a song, etc.

> Everyone is moving on an aerial prop. When the music stops, freeze on the prop.

> Moving on different music styles – slow, fast, crazy, smooth, etcetera.

> Without music: when one person stops, everyone needs to feel it, and stop as well.

NOTE: in general, you can try and use every theater/ dance exercise in the air as well (adapt it).

> Come together in groups of 3, find one aerial prop for your group, and each one does his/her favorite trick (but everybody needs to be able to do it).
> Find ways from one trick to the other trick – (finding in the transition at least two new tricks/transitions)
> Find a start for presenting your little routine, only one person can do it, but all the others need to be involved on stage.
> Find an closing of the routine.
> Show it to the others, asking the audience to watch with an special eye:
– one person just describes what he/she has seen
– second person tells what was very nice/interesting/boring/ exciting and explains – what emotions came up while watching.
– third person tells what can be improved.



PLACE No 2,32&40 : Boomboomboom – out go the lights, close your eyes.
PLACE No 3 : Start up the game and already tired? Do your exercise very relaxed!
PLACE No 5&30 : Too late! Try to decide and do your position as quick as possible.
PLACE No 8&12,41 : The joy of circus is for everybody. Stop the game if you are ready, call all other participants, and show your exercise to the group.
PLACE No 9 : You arrived in the act Living Cannon Ball, and you will be shot to No. 19.
PLACE No 14&22 : You are selected to perform in the famous Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. Do your act as gracefully as possible.
PLACE No 15 : What a wonderful double drop you did! Back to No. 10, but you can throw extra,
two times. Last throw counts for the exercise.
PLACE No 16&27 : Bad luck, you both broke one arm. Do your exercise with one arm each only.

PLACE No 20&37 : Do your exercise slapstick-wise – remember Charley Chaplin?
PLACE No 21 : You can climb the ladder to No. 24 – take care!
PLACE No 29 : Bad luck … again: one of you broke a leg and has to keep it straight all through the exercise.
PLACE No 31&43 : You just had a fight. Find your position, backs turned to each other.
PLACE No 35 : Disaster: fall down to No. 11.
PLACE No 45 : You won! You are now the prince/princess of the air, rich, beautiful and loved for ever….


These techniques will improve your teaching juggling and performing


These people were involved

This is Isabel van Maele. Steady force, member of the educational team of Cirkus in Beweging and coordinator of the BIC training of Circuscentrum Vlaanderen. Specialized in multi circus and aerials, co-author of Circus in School. Contact Isabel at:
Isabel van Maele
teacher Cirkus in Beweging multi and aerials
This is Carina Pousaz; she is a performer, dancer and choreographer from Switzerland, based in Leuk, CH. She studied at the Conservatory for Contemporary Dance and worked for different companies. She toured with the company Zenzero and in 2013 she created with Jennifer Skolovski the company Digestif. Carina is teaching and choreographing the aerial parts of the École de cirque Shanju since 2012. Contact Carina at
Carina Pousaz
youth circus trainer
This is Carla Fontes Dias from Spain. Contact Carla
Carla Fontes Dias
youth circus trainer
This is Esteban Vin from Belgium – he is an ‘irrealist aerialist’. Works as a performer and as a aerial teacher in amongst others Turn&Taxi (Brussels), Cirkus in Beweging (Leuven), Salto (Tienen), Circomedie (Charleroi) and also walks on stilts and clownery. After a masterclass on height & safety, Esteban became a rigger. He’s now learning iron works and hopefully in the near future will build his own aerial structures and modules. Contact:
Esteban Vin
Youth circus trainer and aerialist
This is Helena Škovierova. She is one of the co-founders of the first youth circus school in Slovakia: CirKus-Kus. She is teaching circus for kids and youngsters (general circus and aerials), and aerial classes for adults. She studied Puppet acting in University of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) and also works with different theatres and companies. Contact Helena on More information on
Helena Skovierova
Youth circus trainer
This is Ilona Jääski from Finland. Contact Ilona at:
Ilona Jääski
Youth circus trainer
This is Isabelle Noel from Germany. She works for circus Harlekin in Freiburg. Contact her at:
Isabelle Noel
Youth Circus trainer
Joe Fearn is the founder and director of CircusMASH in the UK. He has a strong passion for educational circus and developing circus arts within the region I currently live. I also work as a freelance choreographer and director for arts projects. Background includes performance, education and social circus in the UK and USA. Contact Joe at: More information on:
Joe Fearn
Youth Circus Trainer
Kriz Hoeylaerts from Circus Locorondo in Belgium. Contact Kriz at
Kriz Hoeylaerts
Mime Clown
This is Marika Riggio from Italy. She works for Collettivo di Bottega. Contact Marika
Marika Riggio
Youth Circus Trainer
Magali Simeone works for the École de Cirque in Lausanne (Switzerland). Contact Magali at:
Magali Simeone
Youth circus trainer
This is Mandy Kemper, who works for Circuswerkplaats Boost and Circus Blixem in Amsterdam. Went to the pedagogical school in Montreal. Contact her at:
Mandy Kempers
Youth Circus trainer
Lynn Campbell (Newcastle, UK) has over 10 years experience in teaching aerial. She ran projects for all sorts of people, as she is passionate about creating opportunities for people to hang and swing and fly: from pregnant women in cocoons to children with autism in harnesses making massive scale art (squeezing paint whilst swinging like a pendulum) and many more. Her teaching is grounded in a teaching qualification, active birth yoga work and a MA in Movement Psychotherapy. Contact Lynn at:
Lynn Campbell
Youth Circus Trainer
Marjolein Wagter is a youth circus teacher with over 23 years of experience. She travels the world as an artist with Compagnie with Balls, and has delivered considerable input tot the CATE Handbook. She is also designer and coordinator of the PEYC Masterclasses. Contact Marjolein at:
Marjolein Wagter
Youth circus trainer
Sonni Ossapofsky (DE) started circus classes as a kid, and continued at an English circusschool to become a circus artist specialized in trapeze and tightwire. Travelled asperformer in different countries and locations, and started teaching circus to kids, youth, adults. Co-founder of the Circus Akademie Berlin in 2009, where she teaches trapeze and tightwire in the full time course for circus teachers. She also teaches circus in public school during physical education hours, and in different youth circuses in Germany and abroad. Contact Sonni at:
Sonni Ossapofsky
Youth Circus trainer


Useful reading material