"It's Neverland" - that was the first thought I have got when I visited Upsala-Circus in one cold rainy day in Saint-Petersburg.
Larisa - the leader and trainer of young artists invited me inside the circus tent. There was dark, empty and rather cold. I saw trampoline and ropes all around, clubbells, big balls and other stage property I have no idea how to name it. I watched all this stuff thinking: how cool it must be to be a circus artist... I imagined children"s laughter, clowns and acrobatic tricks that amaze public, applause... I imagined young talented kids that have chosen to be an artist than to hang out with friend on the streets. That was before I saw performance and meet every artist in person.
Month later I spent 10 incredible days with Upsala Circus artists. And I know now that in real life you could be outsider, weird, not like other teens, different, slow-minded... But here in circus you are an artist. You have team and trainer, you have responsibilities. All kids in Upsala have different backgrounds. Some of them have alcoholic parents, some of them are adopted, other came from large family or from the streets...
Upsala Circus its not just sport classes, its a chance for them to get out from vulnerable difficult life situation, a chance to prove everybody, to believe in yourself, to find another person inside yourself: strong, beautiful, talented... No matter that you study in correction shcool and your classmates think you're weird. No matter that you have to spent more than 2 hours to get to the circus. No matter that you have Down Syndrome and can't even read.
Every training in Upsala Circus is a fight with dark past and unclear future, its a chance to escape real, so complicated life and find joy of being part of a team, being able to do something special, being special.
It's Neverland for those who became adults so early due to life circumstances... Its a place to be child once again.
"THE NEPHEW" Performance with Anton "special child" in main part:
We're happy to tell you that with the support of our donors, our partners and the Committee for Culture in St.Petersburg, we were able to organize another annual festival for kids and grown-ups Flying Children in September 2013.
It is a kind of festival that demonstrates that the social theatre and circus projects, and projects that work with children, or with people with disabilities, can be as splendid and popular as the professional ones.
This year our circus tent welcomed a children's circus from Estonia, a professional art company from France, a non-traditional circus from Moscow, and of course our own show - "The niece" - where the main role is played by a wonderful and bright artist with a Down syndrome.
The festival space was even more fun than the last year: the visitors could participate in circus and percussion workshops, read children books and have cupcakes and other food. And as usual, one whole day of the three festival days was dedicated to our audience from social projects: a free show was organized for underprivileged families and children from orphanages and children's homes.
Thank you for making the colorful circus world more accessible for everybody!
We are proud to tell you about our new circus show based on the drawings of a well-known St.Peterburg artist Alexander Voitsekhovsky. The main role in the show is played by a very special Upsala-Circus artist: a 9-year-old Anton, a boy with Down syndrome who is a member of our Special Child group. This show is Anton's first experience of being on stage, in front of the audience, in the stage lights. And inspite of all the difficulties that Anton and his trainers met during the rehearsals, Anton is truly the star of the show, and he draws all the attention to himself when he is on stage.
After the premiere in June, the circus group went on tour to Europe for 1.5 months, all 9 artists of the show including Anton (to ease his experience in the tour far from home, his trainer from the Special Child group came with him). They have already visited France and England, and are now on their way to Luxembourg and Germany.
We are extremely thankful to all our donors and friends, who made this show possible: the props, the costumes and the special effects cost a lot, but the show is always the high point of our work with children. It is during those moments on stage that the children realize they can bring joy to others, that they are respected and admired by other children and adults, their own parents and trainers.
In 2012 our longterm dream has finally become true: 12 years after the organization was founded, we managed to open our own big circus tent for children that is functioning all year round. Before that we had only a small tent that was set every summer and kept in the garage for the rest of the year. The new tent is the whole world for the children we work with -- and it's important for them that the trainings, the rehearsals and the performances are conducted in this bright and colorful space where they can feel not only like young artists performing for the audience, but also like hosts welcoming guests in their own private territory, on their own terms.
The initial capital for the tent was donated by our private donor in Germany, and later we organized a fundraising campaign and cherished every small donation we got to finally build the tent, to construct the seats and the stage, to buy the necessary sound and light equipment. We still need to design the outside of the tent, which now looks just like an ordinary round building, but we believe that with the help of our supporters we can make this happen.
Our tent is a huge benefit for all our projects: now we are able to transfer our projects with children with disabilities (Special Child project) and children in a closed correctional institution (Circus behind the Fence project) at least partly to our own circus tent, so that the children will have a possibility to rehearse in a space very different from the dull pale green walls of their schools.
Please see for youself the joy of children from groups of social risk performing at the opening ceremony of the first circus tent for children in St.Petersburg -- on our photos.
Thanks for your support!
In March we participated in a Bonus Day and raised the great amount – more than $2,500 in a day! Once we received the funds, we used them to buy necessary acrobatic equipment for group “Circus behind the fence” training. It is just two mats and a mini-tramp, but opportunity to jump in and train new tricks has returned interest of circus trainings. As a result guys’ motivation has increased and now they are preparing a new performance for festival "Flying children" which will be held in September.
Moreover the amount collected has allowed to organize a summer camp for the new group. Just recently the children have finished their studies at school and very soon they will go to rest and train in the Upsala-Circus summer camp, where they will spend the whole summer. Thanks to your support the children of the new group will receive not only a full summer vacation out of town, but during the camp will learn basic living and social skills and also prepare a new circus show for the September festival.
Thank you for the new opportunities that we can give children with your help!!!
The next BONUS DAY – 13th OF JUNE, we look forward to your support!
We are looking forward to see you on the Upsala-Circus premiere play "Dogs" on June 21, as well as at Upsala-Circus festival "Flying Children" in September!
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Upsala-Circus address: Sverdlovskaya embankment, 44; Business centre “Benoit”
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