Adam Teaches Mike Williams on BBC World Service

Why Does Circus Appeal to Adults and Children Around the World?

A few weeks ago Adam was asked to teach Mike Williams from BBC World Service some flying trapeze at the National Centre for Circus Arts.

If you missed the first live broadcast of BBC World Service’s The Why Factor (asking the question above) you can listen again below. It’s also broadcast again tonight at 23.32 GMT (that’s 00.32 BST which we’re currently using in the UK).

Classes Start Next Week!


It is now only one week until our circus classes in East Finchley and Mill Hill are up and running again, so don’t forget to book your place!

Summer Term Starts Monday 13th April

Youth Circus Classes

Get class details or book your place for East Finchley classes now.

Get class details or book your place for Mill Hill classes now.

Adult Aerial Classes

Get class details or book your place for adult classes in Mill Hill now.

See you in a week!

Wednesday Aerial Class Now Open to Beginners


Our Wednesday, 6.30pm – 8pm adult aerial class is now open to beginner and intermediate students.

Get class details

This means we now have two sessions each week that are open to beginners so you have a choice of day or the opportunity to train twice as hard!

If you’re completely new to aerial and have never been on any aerial equipment before, we still recommend starting with our Thursday evening session.

Get class details or contact us for more information

How to Fix a Teddy Bear with a Broken Leg

Be in their World

Being ineffective is never fun. But if we teach ineffectively it’s even worse – it’s hard work, disheartening, and tiring. One of the things that can have us teach ineffectively is not communicating with a student in a way that makes sense to them, and that they can get.

Another way of saying this is that, when we teach ineffectively, we teach from where we are rather than where they are. If we taught from where they are they (and we) would get better results. This may sound like a strange thing to say because most of the time it seems like we are teaching from where they are. If they can juggle a 3-ball cascade, we teach them an over the top throw. If they can kick up to a handstand, we teach them a handstand forward roll. This is simply an appropriate progression for what they can do; but it is not teaching them from where they are. Continue reading

How to do Forward Rolls

How to do a forward roll

Image courtesy of Chris Totsky, Flickr

How to Do Forward Rolls

The forward roll is a fundamental gymnastic skill and is the first skill that teaches forward rotation. Knowing how to do forward rolls correctly will lead to being able to perform handstand forward rolls, dive rolls and ultimately to somersaults.

As with anything acrobatic in nature, we recommend that you only practice under the guidance or supervision of a trained professional as although a forward roll may be a “simple” skill it can still be hazardous, especially if performed incorrectly.

However, kids will be kids (and parents will be parents) and we know that kids will inevitably practice at home, sometimes without supervision – or at their parents encouragement (and occasionally insistence) – and in a less than ideal environment. So what can you do to prevent them from hurting themselves? The best solution would be to take them to a circus or gymnastic class where they can learn how to do forward rolls, with a trained coach, in a safe environment. But if they insist on practising at home, here are some ways that you can minimize the risk.

how to do a forward roll

Interlocking mats

First, clear the area and pad the floor. Use yoga mats, blankets, cushions or anything else soft. You can pick up interlocking play mats for a few pounds on online or at places like the Early Learning Centre or at some larger supermarkets. Landing with a thump on a hard floor hurts. Do whatever you can to prevent it.

If your child is young or a beginner, it is a good idea to have them forward roll down a slope. The incline encourages the forward roll and helps them get their feet over their head by raising the feet in relation to their hands as they begin their forward roll. It also helps the finishing position as it is easier to stand up.

How to do Forward Rolls Using Good Technique

The video below shows how to do forward rolls with good technique.

  1. Start standing up straight, arms up by your ears, feet together.
  2. Squat down, reaching your arms forward and placing your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart and slightly ahead of you. You shouldn’t jump onto your hands.
  3. Tuck the head in and round the back. This is critical in ensuring the safety of the head and neck. The head shouldn’t touch the floor. At best, putting your head on the floor will give you a headache. Tucking the head in and rounding the back gives a smooth forward roll. If you keep a flat back you’ll bounce and thump along the floor like rolling dice. Note for Parents: you can carefully help guide the head into a good position by placing your hand on the back of their neck but do not push or force the head as you can hurt the neck.
  4. Push on your feet, sending your hips over your head and let yourself roll along the floor in a tucked position.
  5. Reach forward as you come out of the roll, keeping tucked with your feet and knees together to allow the momentum of your roll to bring you onto your feet. Stand up with your arms stretched up to your ears in your starting position.

Although forward rolls are one of first moves that students are taught, they are by no means simple. There’s a lot to think about – especially for a beginner – and a lot that can (and does) go wrong. In our youth circus classes we use lots of exercises and drills to teach each part of the forward roll. Breaking down the skill into its component parts and then piecing them together makes it much easier for students to learn.

Again, we don’t recommend that you practice forward rolls at home but if you’re going to anyway, please be safe.

Find out more about our youth circus classes.

Airborne Youth @ East Finchley Festival


Tomorrow is the annual East Finchley Festival at Cherry Tree Woods. A group of our teenage students are going to be performing on the community stage at 12.45.

If you’re at the festival drop by and say hi to us. We’d love to see you there!

East Finchley Festival is free to attend and is open from 12.00 – 18.00 on Sunday, 22nd June 2014

How to Practice With The Juggling Pyramid System

juggling pyramid system

Jon performing with Gandini Juggling

The Juggling Pyramid System for Juggling Practice

A note from Adam

Following on from my post last week about how to practice juggling without getting frustrated, I thought it would be nice to share with you another juggling practice method that can be used to keep your practice interesting and entertaining. What follows is a guest post by juggler, Jon Udry, about the juggling pyramid system and was originally published on the Circus Geeks website.

For those of you who don’t know him, Jon is a fantastic juggler who performs all over the world. He was the first person to win Young Juggler of the Year in 2006 at 16 years old (you do the math) winning over 50% of the votes (but he feels a bit vile talking about it these days). Jon is a Circus Geek and began writing his own blog recently too.

Over to Jon…

In the ever growing world of juggling, people are improving, at different rates, all over the world. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The thing that surprises me is that a lot of jugglers are happy to spend hours practicing their hobby, but do not train in a structured and organised manner. I am constantly surprised at people who arrive at the training space, completely unaware of what they intend to practice and how to do it. I am however impressed at the increase of skill made by people with good practice discipline as opposed to those with no or bad practice structure.

As juggling is a huge part of my life, I have spent time trying to find the most efficient way to practice. I understand that not everyone likes to practice in the same way, and that some systems will suit some people more than others, but I have seen some people slog away at a trick for years with no progress, and I am shocked that they haven’t tried to find the reason why. I firmly believe that if you find a practice system that is good for you, then you shouldn’t strictly only stick to that chosen system. I feel it is important to mix things up, try other practice structures and challenge yourself.

I am not the creator of these systems. Some of the systems I have fused with others to develop them in ways that I feel make them stronger. I have also, taken inspiration from some systems, to develop others in ways that are more suitable for me. I’m not claiming that all of these systems are going to work for you.

These methods are starting points for you to test for yourself and see if:

  1. You enjoy them.
  2. See any improvements in your juggling.

I’d be interested to hear about your opinions, experiences and own training methods and how they compare to mine so please leave any comments or feedback below.

The Juggling Pyramid System

The Pyramid system is a common and efficient juggling system. Though at times it can be tedious to execute, if you are dedicated to it, you WILL get results. This system is suited mostly to patterns as opposed to tricks. The main goal of this system is to solidify patterns to a consistent level.

Example: 5 clubs

  • 5 catches (a flash) x 10
  • 10 catches x 7
  • 15 catches x 5
  • 20 catches x 3
  • 25 catches x 1

Above is a pretty classic example of a Pyramid system. Obviously the Pyramid will be altered depending on one’s level. You must complete the first layer, in this case the flash x 10, before you proceed to the next level, and so on.

Creating your Pyramid
In order to begin this splendid exercise, you first need to create your perfect Pyramid. I am sure there are many ways to do this, but here is the method that I would use if I was creating a Pyramid for 7 balls.

  1. Find the amount of catches that you know you can achieve. For me, I know I have achieved 100 catches a few times. So this is going to be the top of my pyramid, because if I get this, I will be very happy.
  2. Next, I would work my way down to the second layer, to just over half way. For me I will have 30 catches. This I will have to achieve three times. I go just over half way because I feel that if I waste my energy doing 35 catches, then 40, then 45, that I do not have enough energy to concentrate on the full 100 catches. But that’s just me.
  3. Next I will go down to the third layer which is 20 catches. I will have to achieve this 5 times.
  4. The second to last layer I use is 10 catches this I want to get 7 times. This is the amount I would ideally like to perform.
  5. Finally I get to just a flash. This I try to make as perfect as possible and do this 10 times. As one should always start from the bottom of the Pyramid, the first exercise should be easy, and should act as a warm up for what is to come.

Now that my Pyramid is designed, I would now have to execute it. Starting at the bottom and working my way up to the top. In doing this I would take regular short breaks (maximum 1 minute) every 5 minutes. If I do not achieve my Pyramid that day, then that is ok. It’s either too hard for me, or I’m just having a bad day. Give yourself a time limit. If your Pyramid isn’t complete in say 30 minutes, then admit defeat and try again tomorrow.

I hope that this practice method helps in someway. If there are any questions then please email me at

Have fun!