I spent three years applying and auditioning for professional circus schools before I found the right one for me. I applied to over 30 schools, video-auditioned for five and live-auditioned for nine. Though there are countless challenges involved in this process, one of the hardest parts about the audition process is finding the information that you need. “How do I apply? When is the application deadline? What’s the audition like? Can I video audition? How much does this school cost? Is this the right school for me?” These are just some of the questions that arise when one thinks about going to a professional circus school. Yet, with all these questions, answers seem to be scarce. The available resources are out of date, hard to understand or not personalized enough.
In an effort to address this problem and help answer these questions, I founded CSAW: Connecting Circus Students Around the World in August 2018. CSAW is a networking initiative for past, current and future circus school students. The mission of CSAW is to make information about international circus schools more accessible and targeted to future school applicants. This will result in more applicants for international schools and a more fulfilled circus community. CircusTalk and CSAW have partnered to realize this mission and one of the ways that we work toward our accessibility goal is through the Ambassador Committee Initiative.
The Ambassador Committee Initiative is a mission to find an ambassador for every professional circus school. A CSAW ambassador represents the school that they attend. The role of an ambassador is to answer frequently asked questions for prospective students, and to coordinate with CSAW and CircusTalk to provide a new CSAW Ambassador upon graduation. CSAW ambassadors are current students who can provide real answers to real questions.
I am pleased to introduce the first 14 CSAW Ambassadors and the CSAW translator:
ESAC (Ecole Supérieure des arts du cirque)Alumni (Belgium)- Marina Cherry
Marina Cherry is a contortionist/acro-dancer who graduated from ESAC in June 2019. She started her circus formation at ENC in Montreal in 2014 completing the preparatory year and DEC 1 before she ended up at ESAC in Brussels. As a graduate, she is the first CSAW Ambassador Alumni.She is currently creating her own show, touring with companies in the UK, Germany, Czechia (and elsewhere in Europe) as well as taking part in several other creations still in progress. Cherry is now based out of Stockholm. Read Cherry’s ESAC article on CircusTalk!
ESAC Ambassador (Belgium)- Julian Blum
Julian Blum was born in Germany and is 25-years-old. He graduated from the German Sports University of Cologne with a bachelor’s degree in sports and Performance. During his time at this university, he developed his circus passion in the semi-professional circus groups Zirkus Impuls and Kompanie Neun. With a mostly self-taught background, he entered into ESAC, where he now developed himself as an artist and acrobat, specializing in Chinese Pole.
Cirkus Cirkör Ambassador (Sweden)- Alvin Nilsen-Nygaard
Alvin Nilsen-Nygaard is a 17-year-old aspiring contemporary circus artist specializing in handstands. He moved from Trondheim, Norway, to Stockholm, Sweden in August of 2018 to attend the Cirkus Cirkör program as a first step to pursue this career.Read his Cirkus Cirkör article on CircusTalk!
Circomedia Ambassador (UK)- Kiah Bailey
Kiah Bailey is from Leicester originally but moved to Bristol a few years ago and that’s where she discovered circus. She came from an athletics and theatre background and whilst studying her A Levels, she discovered circus and Circomedia through her friends at the time. She started attending evening classes and the youth circus before finally making the leap out of college and on to the BTEC. She’s been specializing in aerial hoop for a few years now and can’t imagine doing anything else. Fun fact – whilst at youth circus, she finally became flexible enough to do the splits, however she then got too excited, starting bouncing in the stretch and tore her hamstring! Note to self, be careful when stretching!
École Nationale de Cirque (ENC)Ambassador (Canada)- Bobby Cookson
Bobby Cookson is a student at ENC in his final year of schooling. His specialized discipline is Cyr wheel, but he is working with corde lisse as his complimentary. He is also extremely interested in finding new performance mediums, creating new disciplines, and he has created acts with clothing juggling, puppeteering, mask work, cigar boxes, and acrobatic broom. Prior to his circus career, he worked as a mechanical engineer with a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech.
El Circo del Mundo-Chile Ambassador (Chile)- Adán Salinas
Luis Adán Salinas works in El Circo del Mundo-Chile as a physical trainer and helps in the academic coordination of the circus school. He loves circus and science and hopes that someday both can be compatible.
Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC)Ambassador (France)- Helena Humm
Helena Humm is a student in her second year at CNAC- having first attended Circomedia on the BTEC diploma course. She specializes in static trapeze and is there to help anyone in (or beginning in) the circus world.
Circadium School of Contemporary Circus Ambassador (US)- Maya Zuckerman
Maya Zuckerman is a 20-year-old hula hoop artist and acrobat originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She draws inspiration from juggling and dance and her father’s terrible jokes, is passionate about consuming middle eastern cuisine, and loves smiling babies. She is currently in her 3rd and final year at Circadium.
SaSak Circus Education Ambassador (Finland)- Margot Mansfield
Margot Mansfield grew up in Adelaide, South Australia where she began circus at the SA Circus Centre. Mansfield has performed with her company Time in Space Circus throughout Australia and internationally to Prague and China. Currently based in Finland, she is beginning to specialize in acro dance and hand-balancing at SaSak in Lahti. She loves every kind of acro, laughing with others and going for walks in the forest.
Salto International Circus School Ambassador (Portugal)-Camila Muñoz Cid
Camila Muñoz Cid is a trapeze artist and acrobat. From Santiago de Chile, she is 22 years old and has been practicing circus since she was 16. She started her circus journey by taking silks classes at Elevarte Circo Yoga and trapeze classes at the Centro de las Artes Aéreas and Casa Árbol in Santiago. In 2017, she started to professionally take an integral circus course in Elevarte Circo Yoga. In the year 2018, Muñoz traveled to Europe looking for a professional circus school, and arrived at Salto International Circus School where she is currently studying. Read her Salto article on CircusTalk!
National Institute of Circus Arts Ambassador (Australia)- Aleshanee Kelso
Aleshanee Kelso is currently a third year student at NICA, specializing in partner acrobatics and tippy ring. Having grown up in Byron Bay, NSW, Kelso found her passion for circus when she ‘ran away’ with the youth circus school Spaghetti Circus in Mullumbimby. Over 10 years later she is still inverting her perspective, through flips, handstands, and shows that push creative boundaries. Kelso is also the CSAW Ambassador for NICA. Read theNICA Article on CircusTalk.
DOCH School of Circus and Dance Ambassador (Sweden)- Elaine Briant
Elaine Briant is a handbalancer studying in DOCH in Stockholm. She participated in a bit of gymnastics and a lot of dance before she entered in the circus world. She begun with a preparatory year in CRAC of Lomme (Lille) and went on to do a second preparatory year in Academie Fratellini (Paris). She then entered DOCH where she will graduate in 2020.
L’Ecole de Cirque de Bordeaux Ambassador (France) – Ignacio Pinto Cebrian
Ignacio Pinto Cebrian is a 22 year old Chilean. One month ago, he arrived in Bordeaux to start the circus preparatory training at the circus school of Bordeaux. Pinto prepared for auditions for four years, dedicating himself to training, convincing his family and gathering information about the audition processes in European schools. After that 4th year, between 2018 – 2019, he undertook the trip with his hand to hand partner and they arrived in France to audition, first for the Bordeaux school, which they were accepted into right away and then the Lido school in Toulouse where they were not accepted. Pinto and his partner will be at L’Ecole de Cirque de Bordeaux for the next two years.
FLIC Scuola di Circo Ambassador (Italy) – Maggie Rusak
Maggie Rusak is an Australian juggler known for her distinctive style focusing on kick-ups and foot stalls. Growing up in sunny Adelaide, Maggie has been involved in the vibrant Australian circus community since she was 4 years old. Starting community circus at Cirkidz, Maggie was part of their youth performing troupe for most of her teenage years before moving to Melbourne to study at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). After a year at NICA, she moved to Europe to further advance her skills, pursue her artistic goals and expand upon her cultural experiences. Maggie is currently studying as part of the Terzo Anno Artistico (3rd Year Artistic) at FLIC Scuola di Circo in Turin, Italy.
CSAW Translator- Johan Santiago Aponte
As CSAW is all about accessibility, thankfully Aponte has volunteered his time to help us translate English, Spanish and French! Don’t let language keep you from reaching out to an ambassador to ask you questions, Aponte is here to help.
Johan Santiago Aponte is a circus artist from San Juan Puerto Rico.He graduated in June 2018 from ESAC with his specialty in double straps-aerial hoop. In February 2019 Aponte participated in the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris France, being the first representation from his country. Before being a circus artist, Aponte represented his country in Cheerleading Nationals and Worlds. He is also trained in floor gymnastics and various dance styles. Aponte is currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial Development and Management and is creating a new act for the upcoming season.
More About CSAW
CSAW wants to increase student access to circus education resources. We do that through initiatives like the workshop CSAW hosted at the American Youth Circus Festival this summer titled Auditioning for Professional Circus Schools (watch a powerpoint of the workshop here)and by creating a mastersheet of professional circus school application deadlines. You can view the circus school application deadline mastersheet here for 2018 (2019 version coming soon.) To learn more about CSAW, join the CSAW Facebook group and follow@csaw_circus on Instagram, or check out the press release about the CSAW and CircusTalk partnership.Future plans for CSAW include expanding the network through exchange programs, international committee meetings, financial aid opportunities for prospective students and cultivating relationships that will benefit future students, current students and alumni. To volunteer, or nominate a CSAW ambassador, provide their name and contact information to Sierra Rhoades Nichols.
Feature image courtesy of CSAW. Photo credit: Blain Tully