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Circus status: Hoxton school puts jugglers and trapeze artists on a par with ballet dancers and opera singers

PUBLISHED: 13:35 11 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 March 2014

National Centre for Circus Arts.

National Centre for Circus Arts.

Archant

British tightrope walkers, acrobats and trapeze artists have been elevated to the same status as ballet dancers, actors and opera singers, as the Hoxton school dedicated to their art, Circus Space, gains national status.

National Centre for Circus Arts.National Centre for Circus Arts.

British tightrope walkers, acrobats and trapeze artists have been elevated to the same status as ballet dancers, actors and opera singers, as the Hoxton school dedicated to their art gains national status.

From now on Circus Space, which is based in a former power station in Coronet Street will be known as the National School for Circus Arts.

The school, which was founded 25 years ago in Islington, applied to the government for the honour with the backing of the Arts Council, and Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, announced the change today.

Kate White and Jane Rice-Bowen, joint chief executives of the centre which offers the only BA in circus skills in the country, believe the title gives a “shorthand to quality” and validates their work.

National Centre for Circus Arts.National Centre for Circus Arts.

Ms White said: “Theatre has a National Theatre, we have the English National Ballet and the English National Opera so this is just as important as an art form now, circus has a national centre here in London as well.”

“People understand the word national and the fact that it is a protected term means you can only use it if the government have said you are pre-eminent in your field.

Although most of the country’s traditional touring family circuses have disappeared, the artistry and acrobatic skills of companies like Cirque du Soleil have reinvigorated the image of circus.

“In the past circus was viewed as something that wasn’t for anyone that wasn’t born into it,” said Ms White.

National Centre for Circus Arts.National Centre for Circus Arts.

“Now young people can look at circus and see it as a viable career, and they don’t have to be three generations behind anyone else that was in the circus.

She continued: “What we really want to do is create a culture of circus in this country, and when we say that what we mean is that when a parent sees little Tommy climbing up the curtains at home or doing something horrifically dangerous in the playground, they don’t immediately say, “Oh my god, just get down you naughty boy you’re going to kill yourself doing that.”

“What they’ll do is say, “Oh my god, they could be the next amazing circus artist just like that one we saw on television or that show in the west end that everyone has been talking about.”

There is high demand for graduates of the school, with 97 per cent success rate in gaining employment.

National Centre for Circus Arts.National Centre for Circus Arts.

“Most people don’t have a permanent job but a complex portfolio career, they may be doing a bit of teaching, or performing in a late night cabaret, or join a company and go on tour and then they would be salaried for a period of time, or they may get an ad and earn loads of money and then they can spend the next six months creating a piece of work they want to do on their own - it’s not as simple as saying there’s a salary they could expect to earn, but people absolutely can earn a wage and a living and can live as a circus artist.”


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