Kids' Circus Summer Camp Teaches Thrills & Skills Under the Big Top - Parentology

Kids’ Circus Summer Camp Teaches Thrills & Skills Under the Big Top

by Jenny Heitz

There is a plethora of virtual and hybrid classes and summer camps for kids out there, but very few offer challenging physical skills, cooperation, and community the way Cirque School Kids classes and camps do.

The youth program for kids ages 7-12 was running for years pre-pandemic at the Los Angeles-based circus school. But when COVID lockdowns hit, Cirque School performed an elegant and seamless pivot to online classes.

“We’ve been consistent through the whole year,” Cirque School Kids program director and head coach Tristan Cunningham tells Parentology. And, amazingly, the kids in the virtual classes not only thrived, they even improved their acrobatic and flexibility skills.

“Being only able to focus on their bodies has helped them hone in on their skills,” says school founder and owner, Aloysia Gavre. She tells Parentology she was impressed with the kids’ progress and overall attitude. “It’s been an extraordinary learning lesson that I wish adults would absorb. Their growth from acrobatics is incredible. They don’t have spots, and they’re navigating couches and chairs, and coffee tables turned on their sides by their parents.”

Cirque School Kids Learn Skills & Thrills

Cirque School
Photo: Cirque School / Mari Provencher

In terms of recreation, the closest comparison with circus classes is gymnastics. But, while gymnastics is an often fiercely competitive and hard-driving pursuit, circus is a performing art, combining incredible physical prowess with theater-kid vibes. 

At both virtual and in-person classes, children can learn splits, backbends, aerials and handstands, but they’ll also learn choreography, juggling, flexibility, hula hooping, and clowning as well. In-person classes also feature lessons on aerial equipment, such as silks, static trapeze, hoop/lyra, and more. Plus, students taking classes in any format can also be part of either a virtual or an in-person performance. 

“In circus, they say: Here are the skills, and you perform it how you want to perform it. You add your own style and own flavor to the performance,” Cunningham says.

Safety Protocols & Hybrid Option

All the coaches and staff at Cirque School are vaccinated for COVID-19, and the school safety protocols have been firmly in place since its May 1st in-person re-opening.

Masks are required while inside the airy school’s walls, each student has their own training pod, complete with apparatus (for in-person students) and a crash mat. Every student also cleans and disinfects their area at the class’s end.

The Cirque School Kids hybrid class model means that remote students (or students who feel uneasy about in-person instruction) can still take the class, sans apparatus training. Regular kids classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-5:30, and Tuesday is a completely remote option (get ready to move that living room furniture and corral your pets).

The Camp: A Week-long Circus Journey

Cirque School’s “World Circus Day” Kids Virtual Performance

Cirque School Kids Camp runs from 9-12:30pm, so it ends just in time for lunch. The curriculum includes all the circus skills, presented by coaches who’ve worked professionally in the circus arts for years. “It’s hard to access the type of coaching you can find at Cirque School,” Cunningham observes.

Indeed, Cunningham got her start at the prestigious Circus Smirkus youth program before going on to become a professional actor and circus performer. School owner, Gavre, started in the Pickel Family Circus as a teenager before spending years as an aerialist touring with Cirque du Soliel.

At the session’s end, your child will have something more valuable than the splits or a perfect cartwheel. They’ll have true mental confidence and a camaraderie with their fellow cirque performers.

“Circus celebrates all types of bodies and skill, and mental coordination. As you build ensemble shows, the youth starts to discover the value of that. And learn respect, and their place in it,” Gavre says.

The school offers two one-week camps. The first session is in-person, while the second session is completely virtual. This second option is ideal for kids who crave the circus experience but don’t live in the Los Angeles area.

Session 1 (in-person): June 14th-18th
Session 2 (virtual): July 12th-16th

Session 3 (in-person): July 26th-30th

Watch the teaser video from the first kids session of 2021, and learn more at Cirque School.

Kids Photos: Mari Provencher