The Westside Circus Public Program offers circus classes for children and adults of all ages. Participants learn a wide range of circus skills including manipulation (i.e. juggling, diablo, hula hoop), acrobalance (i.e. human pyramids and double balances), aerials (i.e. trapeze, cloudswing, rope), tumbling, handstands, performance skills and more. As a 'social circus' we value the promotion of confidence, self expression, teamwork and leadership skills as much as we value the acquisition of circus skills. Our circus trainers are skilled in teaching circus and in creating a group culture where everybody is included and can develop their potential.
3–5 year old ‘kinder’ circus classes
Join Westside Circus’ newest 3-5 year old class, the Rainbow Team! Our circus classes for 3-5 year olds provide an opportunity for children and a significant adult in their lives to play and learn together. Both the 'big person' and 'little person' are actively involved in all the games and circus activities. Each week is themed (e.g. Magical World, Clown Day, PJ Party, Disguise Day, Pirate Day) which informs the content of the games and creative activities for the class and also provides an opportunity for children and adults to dress up as much (or as little) as they want to. This class aims to provide the building blocks for future involvement in a range of activities, not only circus. Fun, creativity, coordination, strength, flexibility, community involvement and communication are all valued in these classes.
Each class includes free play and exploration with scarves, hoops, juggling balls and other manipulation equipment, creative name games, a range of activities teaching body shapes, physical skills, balances between adult and child and introduction to circus skills/ circus equipment such as the trapeze. Approximately half way through the class there is a short five minute break for participants to have a drink and snack.
The second half of the class consists of rhythm and movement games and a circuit. Circuit activities include rocket jumps, plate / soft ball balancing, tunnels, trapeze swing, handstands on the wall, mini tramp, handstand forward rolls and many more interesting, challenging and rewarding activities!
5 to 7 year old classes
Unlike the kinder circus class, 5-7 year olds are unaccompanied by an adult in circus classes (although parents/guardians are very welcome to watch the class from the sidelines!). In these classes attention is focused on how the children work as a team, encouraging responsibility, trust and inclusiveness. Whilst it is a fast paced class like the 3-5's, the length of the sessions on equipment and skills are increased, promoting a higher level of focus. Multiple skills and longer routines are performed, developing strength, concentration and memory. Children are increasingly encouraged to articulate their experiences and offer positive feedback on each others' achievements. Each week the classes are themed allowing the participants to dress up and enter a new, exciting and playful world.
Similar in structure to the kinder circus classes, 5-7 year old classes include free play with manipulation equipment, creative games, foundation tumbling skills, introduction to aerial equipment, movement games and a circuit. Each class ends with a reflection circle in which every participant has the opportunity to say something about what they enjoyed in the class. This gives the children confidence in voicing their thoughts and speaking to a group.
8 to 12 year old classes
Classes for 8 to 12 year olds cater for young people who are beginners to circus, as well as providing opportunities for ongoing participants to build on their existing skills.
The class includes creative games, teambuilding activities, warm up - which includes revision of body shapes and conditioning exercises, and of course a range of circus skills such as manipulation (i.e. juggling, diablo, hula hoop), acrobalance, tumbling, and aerials. Participants are challenged in a fun atmosphere to build trust, take risks in a safe environment, build friendships within the group and develop confidence in their physical and creative skills.
At the discretion and under the supervision of the trainers, more responsibility is given to participants, such as moving and packing up equipment, lowering aerial equipment, running warm-ups and working on gear independently. At this age, more involved and slightly longer performance-making tasks will be offered, utilizing children's creativity and skills.
12 to 25 year old classes
Westside Crew and Westside Co are social circus classes for young people aged 12-25. Classes usually start with fun creative games which warm up bodies, build trust between participants, and promote co-operation and ensemble work. These games lead into a warm up which includes strength and flexibility conditioning and basic acrobatic skills. Some time is dedicated to learning a certain circus activity (for example aerials, juggling, acrobalance or performance skills). The last half hour of the class is free time in which participants can drive their own training by focusing on a certain skill, mastering tricks and/or rehearsing a routine. The aim of the classes is for participants to have fun, learn skills and work safely and supportively in a group.
Once people have trained with the Westside Crew or Westside Co there are opportunities to perform with the Behind the Wall youth troupe and in our large scale shows. We are also interested in supporting pathways for young people to become circus trainers, performers or arts workers.
The adults class is a generalist class providing opportunities for adults to learn a range of circus skills (i.e. acrobalance, manipulation, handstands, aerials, tumbling, performance) whilst building fitness, strength, flexibility and coordination. As with all Westside Classes the adults class also promotes confidence, teamwork, trust, a sense of community, as well as a lot of fun and laughter. This class caters mostly for adults with beginner and intermediate level circus skills.
BTW Youth Troupe
Behind the Wall is the performing arm of the Westside Circus youth class. It gives committed young people a chance to train up performance skills, create characters and acts and rehearse short performances. Throughout the year Behind the Wall perform short stage shows or roving characters for festivals and events around Melbourne. Sometimes guest artists are asked to come in and teach specialist skills, other times are spent rehearsing up acts. This program gives young people a chance to work with professional artists and perform regularly, honing their skills under the public eye.