The cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits of the Circus!

All circus skills foster positive risk taking, personal goal setting, pushing limits and an immense sense of achievement. No one is ever too old to enjoy circus and reap the benefits of a myriad of transferable skills! Belfast Community Circus School are bringing along some of their best workshop facilitators to the Circus of Life, so come along and join us to find out the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical benefits of learning some basic circus skills! The workshops have been designed so all the family can have a go together, you don’t need any previous experience, just come along wearing something comfortable that doesn’t restrict your range of movement.

Social Circus has always had seemingly magical effects on the wellbeing of its participants, although it is only in the last 2 decades that scientific research has begun to explain the magic. Social interaction is intrinsic with wellbeing but for many the available social opportunities are challenging in their intensity.  Circus naturally promotes social interaction in a very gentle way that allows participants to be together and yet alone. Over time this becomes increasingly together. At best the shared passion overspills circus and leads to participants keeping in touch outside the world of circus.

Circus allows the participant to try tricks never attempted before. Just short bursts of focused practice allow the participant to achieve success. By its very nature tasks are consistently progressive, thus always both achievable and challenging. This promotes self motivation in the participant to remain engaged in the process.

Failure is embraced as a valuable part of the learning process. The atmosphere is encouraging with everyone making frequent and multiple mistakes. In this environment a personal tolerance of failing increases.

In several disciplines, particularly acrobalance, circus can normalise reactions to touch. Acrobalance has also been noted to boost body awareness, encourage teamwork, build trust and enhance communication.

Acrobatics has similar benefits in the areas of trust, teamwork and communication. It also promotes problem solving and sequencing ability and significantly builds physical strength.

Balance based activities such as tightwire, stilt walking and globe walking, serve to strengthen the vestibular system and promotes improved body awareness. It also develops trust both in oneself and in a spotter.

Juggling involves breaking a task down into smaller components which are later progressively recombined. It develops rhythm, hand eye coordination, body awareness and develops neural networks particularly in terms of left /right brain connection. Tasks are graded to ensure a continuous balance of challenge and success.

Manipulation involves grasping and reaching for objects and manipulating them in relation to the body and themselves. Participants explore the nature of movement possible with a given prop or props, such as a hat or spinning plate and consider how their movement, body position and body tension effects the movement of the prop. This addresses both gross and fine motor skills, through specific motor skill repetition. It improves coordination, rhythm and timing. At the same time it encourages perseverance and problem solving.

We can write about the benefits all day but the best way to discover the effects of some basic circus skills is to come along and have a go!

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