Reportáže Glynis Hull-Rochelle z workshopu Aerial Games s Isabel van Maele / On February 17-18, 2018, a group of approximately 20 circus teachers from around Europe had the unique opportunity to spend a weekend at Cirqueon with Isabel van Maele, resident teacher at Cirkus in Beweging (Leuven, Belgium) for over 20 years and circus pedagogue trainer from École du Cirque de Bruxelles. Isabel is on a year long sabbatical traveling Europe, giving workshops on a variety of circus-related topics.
On this weekend, Isabel took us through an analytical and enriching exploration of how to teach circus disciplines, particularly aerials, through games. As has been proven over and over, people learn best when they are having fun! Over the two mornings, Isabel shared some of the games she uses for teaching aerials which have proven to be popular and successful with students, so we had a chance to experience some typical lessons with her. Then she led us through exercises in which we had a great deal of creativity within a given structure, and guided us into thinking with a game-oriented mindset when teaching the disciplines. What makes a good game? A good game should offer challenge, freedom, responsibility and the chance to celebrate successes. A great game pulls the students in to try new and challenging tasks and gets them to practice skills diligently without any fear or even noticing how hard they are working!
Circus class is not only about learning the disciplines. Along with a major goal of having fun (which often sets us apart from simple physical training), there are many other accompanying skills which are naturally transferred in the process of teaching and learning circus, perhaps not noticed at first glance. We talked about how humans tend to learn, and tested out Kolb’s theory of the learning cycle: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. We reviewed our broader pedagogical goals, mainly physical & mental (risk taking, dedication, determination, endurance, repetition, training intelligently for skill mastery, etc), social (communication, cooperation, openmindedness, mutual support, empathy, responsibility, accepting others’ ideas…), and creative (experimentation, cultivating habits of creative process, showmanship, and more).
In small groups, we took on the task of applying all of these parameters to developing our own aerial games for specific age groups, which we then shared with each other and played, so that we could analyze what worked and what didn’t, and revise them to be fully functioning games. Our two-day intensive workshop was very inspiring and also satisfying in its effectiveness – the very next day I was already using our new games in class, with great response from the children. Thanks to Isabel for encouraging us to search for the most enjoyable way to teach the various disciplines, and helping us spice up our repertoires!