Youth Circus Summercamp in Tallin
“As we grow as teachers, those we teach will grow with us”
This summer was something to remember. In August, young contemporary circus practitioners from five countries - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark and Finland - met for an intensive week at the Tallinn circus school "Studio Folie". Fifty children from different countries had the opportunity not only to expand their knowledge of the chosen discipline, but also to learn new disciplines and develop the most important part of contemporary circus - creative processes. Young people aged 12-16 could learn from very different teachers: Mikk Bernadt and Mia Erika Peterson (Studio Folie, Estonia), Aleksey Smolov and Mariano Alberto Gedwillo (Riga Circus, Latvia), Anna Lawaetz and Albert Ivarsson (Orkenfortet, Denmark), Senni Nuutinen and Maiski Tiainen (Kuopio Sirkus, Finland) and Karolina Stanionytė and Aistė Aleksiūnaitė (Delarija, Lithuania).
This camp is part of the three-year educational project ARTiculate, which is coordinated by the Baltic Nordic Circus Network. This network connects twenty-one organizations from seven countries in the region and aims to solve problems related to circus development. One of these problems is that circus schools in the region are engaged in teaching disciplines, but do not have clear methods for integrating creative processes into the curriculum. Therefore, representatives from all partners countries contributed to the development of this project. Youth Circus Summercamp was one of the activities and since it is over, we talked with Aleksey and Albert about the importance of the camp, the experiences of teachers and children.
What was the most valuable experience you bring back from Youth Circus Summercamp in Tallin?
Aleksey: To share my own knowledge and experience, meet circus people, establish new collaborations, enrich the pedagogical toolbox and understanding, enjoy together the happiness of movement and artistic findings.
Albert: It’s important for me to be part of the youth circus summer camp because it strengthens not only my abilities as a circus teacher, but it also strengthens my network and contacts within the field. It gave me an opportunity to teach in a way I’m not used to and teach someone I'm not otherwise teaching. Which provided a perfect opportunity to broaden my perspective on teaching at large, but also challenge myself. It's also important for me to be a part of the camp for what it means to Ørkenfortet as an organisation, and especially for the kids we took with us on the trip. As we grow as teachers, those we teach will grow with us as their learning will become of better quality.
And how it was for the kids? Did you notice any impact?
Aleksey: the most important part was being together as a part of whole - care for those around you and the space created. It is crucial for young people to be bold, appreciate their own strengths and weaknesses, meet new people and friends. And we experienced all that during the camp!
Albert: I would say the biggest value the camp brought to our students was broaden sense of the circus world and network. I think they got a fuller picture of the possibilities within the circus, which hopefully, they will bring with them in the coming years when they will be choosing a more independent path in their life. I think it’s critical that we give the youth active in the circus as good an opportunity as possible for inspiration and motivation so they wish to stay in the field and pursue their training and artistic goals.
Aleksey: Yes, absolutely, I’d say, I can witness it observing and listening to the students who have been in circus camps before. Not sure of the professional path though due to multiple factors influencing the choice of the professional career but actually international community or network opens up more options.
In the summer camp you meet with colleagues from the region. Could you please share if you had a chance to learn from each other?
Aleksey: I’ll be honest I hadn’t had much possibilities to learn from other teachers, but I appreciated a possibility to see the in-groups’ communication and inter-relations outside of classes.
Albert: I still think it gave us all a valuable experience. I felt very connected to the other trainers and took away quite a lot, not only from their actual teaching, but also from their own person and their artistry.
Would you agree that youth circus summer camps or other formats of meeting colleagues from the region is contributing significantly to the diversity of the circus genre?
Aleksey: Yes, surely, as most of out-of-own-box experiences allow to change the angle of perceiving things, open new doors and provide new tools and methods (and quite often reconsider own methods, values and aims of the processes)
Albert: I definitely agree that youth circus summercamp is contributing significantly to the diversity of the circus genre. It can, in my opinion, broaden the knowledge and creativity of the circus. Just as it’s important for the kids to learn of the possibilities within the region and circus, it’s important for us active professionals, artists and teachers alike, to learn this as well. It's extremely valuable to meet and hear others tell of their experience in teaching circus, however, in my experience, it’s even more valuable to get the chance to share your own thoughts. The need to structure your thoughts and feelings on the matter at hand usually evolves the subject matter. It’s when you are trying to convey what it is you do that you often find yourself rediscovering it together with the people listening. This is, for me, the key to broader knowledge and creativity within Circus.
Finally, an aspect I brought with me from the camp structurally was the way the classes had been scheduled. The program allowed for the teachers to have some “off-time” where we could relax and/or choose to partake in fellow teachers' classes. As an observer or active participant. This pause, in what otherwise is a hectic time, allowed for processing and consideration of what we were going through. A moment to think. It was a nice addition to my experience of the camp.
Thank You for the conversation!
Youth Circus Summercamp is supported by Nordic Culture Point.