Acro Masterclass

October 2016 - Helsinki (Finland)


This is the masterclass program outline

13:30 – 18:00

Arrival and welcome


In order not to loose valuable time of the masterclass program plan extra time for getting everyone together at the venue.

19:30 – 22.00

First session – who, what, why

This is where the masterclass coordinator presents the preliminary program and together with the masterclass participants fills in the open spaces: input and wishlists of the participants, explaining the schedule, dividing the tasks, Q&A and explaining what PEYC is all about, showing the video of the balance masterclass in Strassbourg (FR, January, 2016).



Workshop on Theory of learning and teaching



Acrobalance Trick Exchange – check: MEDIA

16:30 -18:30

Free exchange time

20:00 -21:30

Session on Cohesion and teamwork



21:30 -22:00

Session on Touch and our relation to touch


09:00 – 12:00

Exchange on Acro Games 

CHECK: GAMES for more input

14:00 -15:00

MAKE AN ACT IN 1 HOUR by Niels Reynaert 

15:00 -16:00

Modern Movements in Acro by Joan Vialatte

16:30 – 18:30

Workshop on TEACHING RANK AND POWER by Steven Desanghere

20:00 – 22:00

Free exchange time


09:00 – 11:30

Preparation for the afternoon teaching session: teaching each other and local teachers

12:00 – 13:30

Workshop on European context by Steven Desanghere,  together with EYCO Board

14:00 – 18:30

Afternoon teaching session: teaching each other and local teachers

20:00 – 22:00

Free exchange time


09:00 – 13:30

Session on teaching a group with a wide variety of pupils by two masterclass participants


Followed by a session on: > TEACHING CARTWHEEL by Saila Saminen > STANDING ON SHOULDERS AND HOW TO GET THERE by Anja van Wijngaarden.

14:00 – 16:00

Sharing best practice and exchange about the effect of the discipline acrobatics in youth circus and youth work

16:30 – 18:30

Cultural trip in the city of Helsinki – Fortress Island

20:00 – 22.30

Last evening party!


9:30 – 13.30

Work to be done on the Resource Centre: gathering bios, bibliography, notes, etcetera.

14:00 – 16:00



16:30 -18:30

Free exchange time

20:00 – 22:30

Departure time – Cleaning up and goodbyes


Fun games for warming up for juggling techniques

Check out these acro games – they help you with:

  • warming up
  • creating the group
  • stimulating creativity and focus
  • practice your balance

Also check GAMES EXCHANGE on Facebook.




1. Acro tag game

When you are tagged, you put your arms up in the air. To get free again you have to do an acro trick together with the person who wants to free you. After that you can come back to the game. The tagger is allowed to tag the people who are already doing the acro.

Acro movements: sitting chair, standing chair, standing on dog.

2. Spiders and flies

The flies are walking around on their hands and feets facing the floor. The tagger is a spider walking on hands and feet facing the ceiling. When you are tagged, you become a spider.


– Other animals: frog, monkey (low cart wheel)

– Walking backwards, constant turning

– Making the sound of the animal

– When tagged: the persons who wants to free the tagged one rolls over his back

3. Horse race

Make pairs. All start at one line, the end is at another line. The bases in on hands and knees (horse). The other one going to lie on top of the back, back to back and grabs the hips. Now the goal is to go to the other line as fast as possible. When you drop of the base, you have to start from the beginning.


– without hands

– legs straight up

– standing on the horse

– change partners, change base/flyer

– 3 persons: 2 bases – thin mat – 1 flyer (also possible with 5 persons, 2 mats)

 Also check this video.

4. London bus

Make pairs. You choose certain movements the pairs have to make.

– peeing dog: 1 peeing dog and 1 standing straight with arms high as a tree

– busstop: 1 dog/horse/lion en 1 sitting on top of it

– London bus: hands and feet with stomach to ceiling, 1 on top of it the same way

– monkey and tree: 1 tree and the other one is hanging in/on the tree

– hotdog: 1 lying on the ground, shoulders and feet from the ground. The other one standing like doing a push up, 90 degrees, so over the other person.

– surfer: 1 lying on the stomach, the other one standing on top of that as a surfer

Each pair has a number 1 and 2. Numbers 1 are running in a small circle in the middle. The numbers 2 are running in a bigger circle in the other direction. When the teacher shouts an move (hotdog!) than you have to find your own partner as soon as possible and make the move. The last one standing has to do 10 push ups before getting back in the game.


– you can also choose more acrobatic tricks

– clock tower: making a handstand and the other one lift it and shakes it a little left and richt

– clap: when the teacher makes a clap, the pairs have to change inner and outer circle

– quicker or in slow motion running

– backwards

– giving high fives during the running

– dancing around until the music stops and than make the move

– with points for who’s doing it the prettiest, make the nicest sound or something like that.


And don’t forget to check this video!

5. Kie ka boom

One person (could be the teacher) is counting down from 10 to 0. All students must touch the counting person and make a trick the teacher gives (single or in pairs like the London bus). You can give points for who does the nicest one. The one counting can also walk around to make it harder. Because after counting from 10 to 0, you count from 9 to 0, and so on.


– slow motion, bouncing, turning.

– now the students have to go as far away as possible from the person who counts. Because when the counting is done he can make 3 steps and tag someone. It can also be 3 steps in movements likes a cartwheel to have a bigger reach. Also the persons who are being tagged can help the counter by lifting him so he doesn’t have to make a step so quickly.

6. Crocodile

Three crocodiles: take the position like how you start right before a push up (feet and hands on the ground, face towards the floor). Before the start of the game the crocodiles are asleep and everybody has to touch 1 crocodile. When the crocodiles wakes up the can start tagging. When being tagged, you are also a crocodile.


– for younger children you can also make an easier animal

– also with making the sound of the animal

– form one line to another. They have to cross the crocodile sea. Also possible that the runners have to cross as an animal.

7. Dame Blanche

When you are tagged you become an ingredient of the dame blanche and say the name of the ingredient constantly.

1: ice cream: lying on the ground on your back
2: chocolate sauce: dog/lion/horse over the ice cream
3: whipped cream: sitting on top of the dog
4: spoon: standing on the chair/whipped cream

If the figure is complete you all have to say ‘dame blanche’ 3 times and then you are all free again.

You have to work together so that there are not only ice creams.


– make it bigger: cherry, etc.

8. Traveling the world

One is the traveller. He/she has to go to the other side of the working space.
The others must help him with this, catch him, carry him, etc. 

9. Sumo Battle

Make pairs. Two dogs/lions/tables are facing each other. One stays static and the other one tries to push the static one so he/she rolls over. The static one has to prevent that. Don’t use the arms.


– bigger groups

– both are moving

– use of arms

– as a robot (so when rolling, don’t change body figure)

– shoulder and knee against each other

– as a rock/stone/turtle, as little as possible

– turtle/as little as possible and the other one wants to make the turtle bigger by opening a arm, than a leg, etc.


Check this video!

– other way around: start as big as possible and make everything bend

10. Ganzenbord

Work in pairs. Make a playing board on a paper and you need a rolling dice with numbers from 1 to 6. You move according to the number you rolled with the dice.

You can roll all at the same time or wait for each other. You can fill the board with figures of acrobatics and sentences like: wait one round, 3 back, 2 forward, change partner.


– twister: each colour has their own movement

– twister with somebody on your back

11. One against all

One big sheet of paper with movements. For example: 500 push up, talking against the wall, constant handstand, juggling.

The whole group has the task to make sure each movement is happening during the time of the game. They can take turns. Somebody can do 10 push ups, and then somebody else continues. The whole group is responsible. Take a certain time for the game beforehand.

12.Two pyramids - the mirror

Thick mat and two groups who can’t see each other because the mat is up. Make two teams with 5 persons are fine, can be bigger or smaller. Third team can give the movements (like: make an airplane) from the side.

The mat is to make sure the two groups don’t copy each other. Ten seconds to make the movement/pyramid.

– as high as possible
– X hands on the ground and X knees
– make an airplane


– make noise when you are ready, who is first

– ‘loser’ can make the pyramid of the winner

– one team gets a tricks and 10 seconds to build it. Remove mat/wall for 5 seconds for the other team to see the result. Put back the wall back up and have the other team to build the same figure.

– Without a mat, just looking in the other direction

 Also check this video!

13. Memory

Team A picks a card and has to build a figure (hamburger, car, house). Team B has to guess what it is.

14. Mirror

There are 2 thick mats standing. One person is in the middle and two others on either side.

They all make a movement (1=lying down, 2=lion, 3=standing on 1 foot).

The other people have to make a group figure in which all 3 movements of the 3 people between the mats are in.


These techniques will improve your teaching juggling and performing


Introducing the cart wheel quickly and with loads of fun –  for explanation and pictures go to:

Teaching Cartwheel by Saila Salminen

Back Flip

Introducing the back flip quickly and with loads of fun – please read instructions here: Back Flip solo to group – Group confidence and watch and use all these wonderful videos in the next section.

Story Telling

Introducing Story Telling quickly and with loads of fun: try this On Story telling!

Deconstruction and motivation

Find out how to inspire and motivate: read Deconstruction of Circus – How to motivate.

The Floor is not your Enemy

Learn more about the floor … The floor is not your enemy by Phil Hardy and Mathias Poelman.

Banquine – Safety and Principles

Learn more and read: Banquine Safety and Principles by Arce and Eline

Teaching tips on Slapstick

Here are some tips from the participants: Slapstick teaching tips



Research Floor Acrobatic Movements

Workshop on ongoing research about floor acrobatic movements: check the videos below.


Break dance and solo swing

We put together a dance routine/choreography, mixing break dance moves and solo swing dancing moves, relatively simple steps. We also added a couple semi acrobatic Lindy Hop moves called the Frog jump and the Freeze (head stand static position of Break Dance) and the 6 Step (floor move).

Feedback suggests that it is also interesting to work more on the different styles of our own dances, using simple steps, instead of trying to give too much info in a short time.

Check the videos below!

Standing on shoulders

Read Anja’s tips and tricks: Standing on Shoulders and How to get there by Anja van Wijngaarden.


These people were involved

Adeline Avenel

Adeline Avenel

This is  Adeline Avenel:  she grew up in a dancing environment and discovered Swind Dancing at 14 years old. Danced since Lindy hop as professional and teacher. Started circus with flying trapeze in 2011.  Obtained the French pedagogical  diploma BPJEPS circus ( Brevet Professionnel jeunesse education populaire et sport) in 2014, including all the circus disciplines.

Circus teacher at  The  Regional Centre of Circus Arts in the North of France. Member of the passing clubs company Les cirqua’cinq.

Contact  Adeline at:

Stefano Bertelli

Stefano Bertelli

youth circus trainer

Meet Joan Vialatte from France. He started his experience as a children entertainer.
After he learned basics of circus disciplines with the professional training “Passe-Muraille” and passed his BPJEPS (French national circus diploma) he is now working as a circus teacher in Strasbourg’s circus school Graine de cirque. There he teaches to a very diverse public: from 4 to over 80 years old and disabled people. His speciality is floor acrobatics movement. Joan is sure that one day circus will change the world!

Contact Joan at:

Phil Hardie

Phil Hardie

youth circus trainer and artist

Phil Hardie is a circus artist, performer and teacher with over 16 years experience. He is the director and principle artist for Spotted Stripes Circus, Edinburgh, Scotland. His specialities are Chinese pole & floor acrobatics and creative movement, character acting and improvising with audience interaction.

From the year 2000 he has trained and taught Capoeira Angola and a variety of circus disciplines and performance skills (arts). Phils loves to facilitate creative movement exploration and learning for people of all ages and to create and  perform exciting new circus shows which draw on theatre as much as circus he utilises my acrobatic ability, dance and performance experience in all he does.

Phone: 00 44 (0)7872623381

Saila Saminen

Saila Saminen

circus and physical education teacher

This is Saila Salminen, she teaches circus in Jyväskylän Sirkuskoulu and Taidekoulu Estradi in Finland. She is specialized in partner, floor and aerial acrobatics and is co-author of circus manual for schools: Sirkus – luovaa liikuntaa kouluun.
She has a Master´s degree in Sport Sciences in University of Jyväskylä, with a major in Physical Education, and a minor in Drama Education and Health Education.

Contact Saila at:


Rami Mohamed

Rami Mohamed

youth circus trainer

This is Rami Mohamed: he works in Cirkus Tvaers in Aarhus, Denmark and is specialized in floor acro and pair acrobatics, and breakdance.

You can contact him at:


Nikki Sneep-snijders

Nikki Sneep-snijders

youth circus trainer

This is Nikki Sneep-Snijders (27) from the Netherlands. She started doing circus when she was 7 years old and never stopped. As an artist she is specialized in devilstick. At the moment she is the main teacher of circus talent group TwoB and youth circus Tubantino in Oldenzaal. She teaches all disciplines but mostly acrobatics, from solo to banquine and dynamic group acrobatics. During her study theatre science she did quite a lot of research on circus and created ‘Circus Theater Events Demiori’ providing workshops, performances and walking entertainment.

Contact Nikki at:

Peter van Valkenhoef

Peter van Valkenhoef

teacher and artist


After finishing a study of architecture and social work, Peter van Valkenhoef found his passion in acrobalance en co-founded duo IJs en Weder in 1988.
In Holland he was educated by the Osmani’s, and continued in France at the circusschools Fratellini and Silvia Monfort. He finished with Centre Perfectionnement at École Superieur d’Art du Cirque in Chalon sur Champagne.
He was contracted as an artist for two seasons with the famous (notorious) Circus Archaos. Further he performed at international gala’s, variety’s and festivals like Cirque du Demain.
For years he was the acrobalance tutor at the (degree) Circus Space (UK). And is teacher on hight level acro on international acrobalance festivals (NY,Israel,Siberie)


Marjolein Wagter

Marjolein Wagter

youth circus trainer and artist

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:

Merit Ridaste

Merit Ridaste

youth circus trainer

This is Merit Ridaste: Merit is multi-circus coach in PartnerAkro. She specialises in acrobatic gymnastics and balancing disciplines, is a board member of circus centre Tsirkusekeskus in Estonia and works as a freelance slack-rope artist.  

Contact Merit at:

Niels Reynaert

Niels Reynaert



Here is Niels: I’m Niels Reynaert from Belgium, Oostende. I studied physical education. For many years I have been teaching in Woesh, the circusschool of Brugge. I do social projects and youth productions.

Together with Isabel Van Maele I am teaching the BIC program of Cirkus in beweging. Besides that I want to save the world.

Contact Niels at:

Miguel Manzano

Miguel Manzano



Miguel is an acrobat, coach and architect and has been in gymnastics since he was 6 years old.
At 2014 he became a gymnastics coach and is now working on the social circus project of Donyet Ardit, in Alicante.

Contact Miguel at:

Marco Merlini

Marco Merlini

youth circus trainer

Marco was born and lives in Milano, Italia. He worked for 10 years as an artistic gymnastic, and attended theatre school (mime, modern dance, acting) and studied martial arts (Viet Vo Dao, Aikido) 10 years.
Marco also graduated in literature and linguistics. He is an actor, working in theatre, movies and commercials and teaches in Piccola Scuola di Circo Acrobatics on floor and mini-tramp.
Marco gives workshops in acting, slapstick and story telling and teaches acrobatics in the professional theatre school of Piccolo Teatro di Milano. Last but not least,  he also is a Pilates teacher.

Contact Marco at:

Mathias B. Dons Poelman

Mathias B. Dons Poelman

youth circus teacher

Mathias is a teacher at Circus Tvaers in Aarhus Denmark, co-started BLOCK – an outside training space in Aarhus.
He visited Codarts Circus School for two  years where he specialised in floor acrobatics and juggling.

Contact Johan at:

Also check:

Martin Bogus

Martin Bogus

This is Martin Bogus. Martin is a mentor who train and facilitating groups and individuals in the areas of: acrobatics, movement improvisation, concept dance, organisation of shows and classes and the ability to be on stage in the circus.
He studied sports, adventure and movement with the focus on dance and creativity in the Sports University in Cologne. Since 2007 he loves to help kids, youngsters and adults to find there own way in the circus. He uses a lot of new methods he discovered at University to teach all the circus disciplines.
One of his favorite methods is story telling but his speciality is to teach the basics of acrobatics, pair acrobatics, acrobatic dance and hand to hand.

Contact Martin at:

Also check:
Phone: +49 176 539 343 35

Eline Vyncke

Eline Vyncke

This is Eline Vyncke: she has been doing circus since she was 6 years old, at Circusplaneet, the youth circus school in Ghent (Belgium). She has been teaching circus for ten years to children and youngsters, and specializes in acrobatics and especially partner acrobatics, dynamic partner acrobatics like banquine and Icarian games.
If she is not doing circus she likes to lift weights and dance.

Contact Eline at:

Joan Vialatte

Joan Vialatte


This is Joan Vialatte from France. he started his experience as a children entertainer. After having learned the basics of circus disciplines with the professional training “Passe-Muraille”, he passed his BPJEPS (French circus national diploma) and he is now working as a circus teacher in Strasbourg’s circus school “Graine de cirque”. There he teaches to a very diverse public, from 4 to over 80 years old and disabled people as well.
His specialty is floor acrobatics movement, and he is sure one day circus will change the world.

Contact Joan at 

Carolin Dallmeyer

Carolin Dallmeyer


Carolin has been doing impro theater for over 20 years. She does all her costumes herself. She started her career as a woodworker and she does a lot of other things. In 2010 she started with circus. At the moment she leads the Circusshool Firlefanz in Hamburg. Her favorite is acro, making costumes and to be a clown. She is interested in exchange, giving workshops, training together, gathering new ideas, breaking thinking/minds – because bumblebees didn’t know that they can fly.

Contact Carolin at:
Phone: +491776253636

Erika Forsberg

Erika Forsberg

Teacher (circus, dance, P.E.)

Erika Forsberg is head master and teacher of Jyväskylän Sirkuskoulu in Finland. She specializes in social circus and creative movement. Co-founder of contemporary circus company “Circus New World”.
Erika is co-author of circus manual for schools Sirkus – luovaa liikuntaa kouluun, and she has a Master´s degree in Sport Sciences in University of Jyväskylä, a major in Physical Education, and minor in Adapted Physical Activity, Educational Leadership and Health Education, and did specialist studies in Dance Pedagogy.

Contact Erika at:

Facebook: Erika Forsberg

Anja van Wijngaarden

Anja van Wijngaarden

Contact Anja at:

Arce López Gutiérrez

Arce López Gutiérrez

Teacher (circus, dance, P.E.)

Arce has being doing circus and theatre since she was 9 years old, first playing and slowly getting strong experience and formation in performing arts and teaching.
He is specialised in Chinese Pole, partners acrobatics and physical theatre and movement. After finishing his BA hons at the National Centre for Circus Arts, he is now traveling, performing and teaching mostly between Spain, Finland, France and UK – always up and ready for new destinations.
Arce is interested in the way we learn, interact, get in contact and listen to each other, and he really likes always tries to finish his workshops explaining how to give a nice massage.

For any further information do not hesitate to get in touch with Arce at: arkeleb@gmail.comand – he is always happy to have a talk with a nice cup of tea or coffe!



Useful reading material


  • Basic techniques in circus arts – Fondation Cirque Du Soleil


  • Social Circus Handbook for Teachers by Cirque du Monde




  • The Partner Acrobatics & Pyramid Cards – Tips and Instructions for Using the Cards (Finnish Youth Circus Association,


Newspaper article DNA on balance masterclass January 2016

For participants

Only available for people who participated