School’s out for summer, but a group of 23 students got schooled in all things circus.
Kids Circus Summer Camp, which ran from July 4 to 8, featured instruction in juggling, hula hooping, slacklines, stilting, aerial, gymnastics, and creating a clown character.
“Our focus here is to have a lot of fun and enjoy the process,” said Marcia Tofer, creative director at Dream Dance Circus and instructor at the camp.
She noted how the circus embraces individuality and creativity through movement, and the camp was a place of encouragement for the young performers.
“It's not necessarily always about creating a perfect movement, but a characterized movement or one that allows the person practicing to be themselves and achieve a skill,” said Tofer.
“One of our favourite sayings is practice makes progress, so we're not perfectionists, though we do a lot of really amazing stupendous achievements, but achieving perfection is not necessarily the goal in what we're doing.”
This outlook allows for an inclusive area for the children to make their own style.
Students would watch instructors demonstrate technique first; for example, climbing on each other in a way that is safe for everyone. They then would try the stunts with their teachers and classmates, all while being closely watched by their instructors.
They learned where to place their feet as they stand on a classmate's back and open their arms to the world with a big smile.
As children walked the slack rope, they would walk next to their peers, ensuring they did not fall or hurt themselves by offering the help of balance.
After the first day of camp, Tofer told Town & Country News that many children needed individual encouragement throughout the day but were becoming more confident.
She believes the camp teaches the children self-confidence, self-esteem, co-operative learning, how to work together, and learn scary things in front of their peers.
“They're more willing to share how they're feeling on a moment-to-moment basis,” she noted; children were then able to describe their feelings and how they felt before trying new activities and then feel accomplished doing them.
“It's okay to have these emotional experiences, and you just keep moving through them,” said Tofer.
The camp came together with the help of the community.
The Grande Prairie Live Theatre also sponsored 12 students to attend the camp with a $3,000 donation.
“I think it is outstanding for an arts community organization to support another arts-based activity.”
The Swan City Rotary Club also helped sponsor the event along with Aquatera donating water bottles, and New Horizon Co-op donated snacks for the camp.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News