“They give you a lot of support with the business side of things,” Rowlands says. “Obviously, you’re going to be a freelance performer, so you have to also be your own administrator, your own manager, your own marketing executive — you have to do all these other things. You can’t just train all the time.” Rowlands found that the school’s alumni network has been instrumental in helping her find work: In addition to performances throughout the U.K., the Republic of Ireland and India, she has gigs lined up around London and a standing contract with a resort in Tenerife in the Canary Islands that brings her there once or twice a month to perform.
The school is also actively involved in promoting circus as an art form in itself and proving that applications of circus skills are expanding. Not only are the school’s alumni pushing the bounds of what circus is in cabarets and theaters across the city, but the school’s staff is, as well: Experts from Circus Space, for example, were involved in the aerial choreography of Batman Live, a live-action stage show currently on a world arena tour. Says Nichols of their craft: “It’s just popping up everywhere.”
Then there are the school’s outreach efforts to the wider, noncircus community. Circus Space offers regular folks of all ages a place to learn, with 12-week programs for children and adults. The youth program — which admits kids as young as 2 years, 9 months — has regular waiting lists; the adult course, which teaches skills such as juggling and tightrope, have roughly 300 students enrolled at any particular time. For those looking for less of a commitment, the school hosts “experience days,” when people can come spend an afternoon learning, say, the flying trapeze, tightwire walking, or acrobatic and juggling skills, and corporations frequently hold team-building exercises at the school.
The classes are intended to do more than just teach people a few new party tricks; the goal is to show audiences that circus arts are serious business.
“The reality of it is, in this day and age, it’s quite legitimate to be a performer, and yet sometimes, people are a bit bemused that there’s training for it,” Nichols says. “These people have to come from somewhere.”
And with a degree from Circus Space, they’ll go places too.