Are You Ready for CircusLab?

Isabella Mackenzye Sol

Spring 2018

I: Introduction to CircusLab

“The point of CircusLab is really to make us stronger,
to build our endurance to perform,
to inspire and empower us in our performance abilities,
and to teach us lots of new skills.”

I am writing to persuade you to try out for CircusLab by telling you about it. CircusLab is a group of youth that love to perform, train hard, and have fun. Many of us want to be professional performers some day. If you want to try out for CircusLab, you have to be able to do some tumbling and acrobatic stuff, but nothing major. We’ll teach you more! I encourage you to try out on June 1 or 2. I also encourage you to come to one of the CircusLab shows on May 19 (at 6:30pm) or May 20 (at 2:00pm) to really feel the vibe of what we do. 

II: What We Do in CircusLab

The purpose of CircusLab is to learn how to perform and entertain and audience; how to project your voice to an audience; and how to tell a fabulous story with all the aerial and acrobatic arts. In CircusLab, we also do lots of partner acrobatics, clowning through everything, and improv arts. We are acrobats, aerialists, hula hoopers, parkour practitioners, dancers, contortionists, clowns, and lots more. Most of all, we’re performers. CircusLab training takes place at AcroSports. I’ve been in it for about 10 sessions (almost 3 years) since it started in 2015. Coach Hannah is the head coach and director of our ensemble. 

We currently train 2 days/4 hrs a week with extra rehearsals around performances. Next year’s ensemble and advanced troupe will definitely train more hours. Our big show is always an original in the Spring and lasts about 45-60 minutes. We perform a shorter original show in the December showcase at AcroSports just to get extra practice in front of an audience. However, we are also starting to get more opportunities to perform in non-showcase events. Some of the CL students performed in the AcroSports’ March cabaret. Masai and I performed a contortion and hand-balancing act for a local event in April. Many of us will perform in Carnaval later this month. 

Isabella and Masai at Mission Kids Spring Fiesta

The current main specialty acts are tumbling with Coach Molly, aerial with Coach Amy, and contortion with Coach Serchmaa. Coach Ivo recently joined AcroSports to coach aerial mostly but to help CL putting all the acts together in our performances. The point of CircusLab is really to make us stronger, to build our endurance to perform, to inspire and empower us in our performance abilities, and to teach us lots of new skills. 

Tumbling/Partner Acro Act Creation performing in our “We’ve Always Done It!” Staff and Student Cabaret.  Photo credit: Scott Klein (@scootklein)

III: What is Expected of CircusLab Performers

As a CL student, you will be expected to work hard at practice and rehearsals, be on time, always be a team player, and be a great role model. As a performer, you will be expected to memorize lines on time; remember all the routines and acts, be resilient when changes are made; empower each other throughout training, rehearsals, and performances; show courage and passion through challenges; and commit to all the extra rehearsals. The new intermediate ensemble will be what CircusLab is now and the new advanced troupe will be for the students who are ready for more challenges, harder work, more performances, more commitment, and much higher expectations to meet. When you work really hard, you get stronger, better, braver, more confident, happier, and more graceful. We are all role models for younger kids that want to be in CircusLab some day. I asked a few CircusLab students to share their best advice for what’s expected and here’s what I got: 

“Things will not always go your way. The show may not take the turn of events you want it to, but this helps me and anybody who joins this amazing group to let your ideas go sometimes and move on to new ideas.”  — Louka

“Mental blocks are my biggest challenge. It takes time to build confidence and with support from teammates and coaches you can overcome anything.” — Izzy

“The most challenging expectation for me is clowning. I feel like I will be judged and people will make fun of me. I have grown to feel more comfortable with being weird in front of people. Still, I am always nervous when going up to do something that I would not normally do. But, every time after, I feel energized and good about what I did.” — Masai

“The most challenging expectation is learning to be mindful. Students in a regular class run around cutting through classmates and bothering them. But as CircusLab students we needed to learn to not do that are mind our space because CircusLab is the most advanced class at AcroSports.” — Bailey

IV: What Can You Expect to Gain from CircusLab

From CircusLab, you will gain a lot. If you are shy, it will help you come out of your shell. If you like to perform, but not speak to an audience, it will help you overcome that. You will feel and be stronger. You could learn really cool skills like clowning, improv, synchro tumbling, partner aero, acro-gymnastics, parkour, hand-balancing, juggling, stilt walking, and much more. We become such good friends, we are like family. We get together for costume making parties, social events, and go to performances together, like: Cirque du Soleil, Cirque du Symphonie, Circus Center, and college gymnastics meets. Here’s what other CircusLab students had to say about what we’ve gained from our experience the past year: 

“Of course, there is the chance to train 5 more hours a week and improve your tumbling skills. On the other side of things, there are more moral benefits like meeting amazing new people, making loyal friends who will never let you fall – sometimes literally. Becoming part of this community has been one of the best experiences of my life.” — Louka

“The greatest benefit for me is that I am now more comfortable with meeting new people and becoming friends with them. Before CL, I was always very nervous about who I will meet and what would happen. Now I am comfortable when I go to new classes and auditions, I don’t need a friend with me.” — Masai

“CircusLab has allowed me to express myself in a creative way, allowing me to truly be myself.” — Izzy

“My greatest benefit from CircusLab is my tumbling. I have improved so much in just the last 2 years that I have done CircusLab!” — Bailey

V: How Can I Get in CircusLab?

CircusLab training is at AcroSports. If I’ve encouraged you to try out, you can prepare something to show off your own specialties, but don’t worry if you can’t think of anything. Just come and try out. If you make it, you’ll want to choose your specialties wisely because you can’t do everything and you’ll probably want to, like me. Good Luck! See you there. 


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