Lynn Carroll - CircusTalk

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Lynn Carroll
Director of CircusWorks and President of EYCO – the European Youth Circus Organisation -UNITED KINGDOM
Lynn Carroll is an internationally renowned expert in circus and education. Throughout her career she has performed globally as a multi-disciplined circus artist with some of the most pioneering and acclaimed contemporary circus companies of the time, as well as being at the forefront of developing the UK youth circus sector for nearly 40 years.

In 1982, Lynn was working with the Manchester Playbus, which brought opportunities to play to children in deprived communities in the Manchester area. She was 21 years old, and felt ‘a bit purposeless’. By chance, she ended up on Reg Bolton’s Suitcase Circus course – a six day intensive in basic circus skills – which completely changed the course of her life. Over the next few years, Lynn set up Manchester Community Circus, ran play schemes in the holidays on traveller sites for Save the Children, and performed at The Haçienda, Manchester. She went on to study at the newly opened Fool Time in Bristol – Britain’s first permanent full-time school for professional circus training, which would later evolve into Circomedia.

By the late 1980s, Lynn was performing her way across Europe and Australia as a solo performer, occasionally accompanied by Balls Up Jugglers (which would later become NoFit State Circus), Johnny Torres (who went on to be Artistic director at La Central del Cirq in Barcelona), Bet Garrell Beringer (founder of Los Galindos circus company), and Ian McKellar. Lynn went on to tour prolifically throughout the 1990s and 2000s, performing with Circus Hazzard in Spain, Skinning the Cat in Germany and completing four international tours and five site specific shows with NoFit State Circus. She also founded her own aerial, fire and theatre outdoor performance company, Chimaera, which toured internationally in the 1990s, and performed extensively as a solo artist, including at the Millennium Dome.

Throughout her performing career, Lynn continued to organise and teach youth and community circus, as well as tutoring professional artists. In 2000, she became Head of Youth Circus at Circus Space (now the National Centre of Circus Arts). In this role she transformed the youth circus, from a small class of 25 participants, to a huge programme that taught more than 200 young people weekly. Around the same time, Lynn also set up and ran Woodberry Down Youth Circus and Shoreditch Youth Circus. Lynn would go on to become the head of NoFit State’s Community and Education programme. In this role, she ran their youth circus, adult classes, outreach workshops, trainee programme, and professional agency. While with NoFit State, in 2011, Lynn became a founder member of The UK Youth Circus Network (which would later become CircusWorks). In 2012 she became a board member of EYCO (the European Youth Circus Organisation), and has since worked with them to create 10 major projects, bringing circus practitioners together from 13 countries to share experience, network, and develop training resources. Finally, in 2014, Lynn became the director of CircusWorks – the UK Youth Circus Network.

For 40 years, Lynn has witnessed first hand the effect that learning circus can have on a young person’s life. As a non-competitive, teamwork orientated form of exercise, circus is uniquely accessible. Young people who engage with circus not only improve their physical abilities and learn new skills – they gain an art-form, a mode of self-expression, and often (since so much of circus is rooted in teamwork and trust), a community. They discover a world in which they can be whoever they want to be – whether they want to clown around, or fly. As director of CircusWorks, Lynn works tirelessly to expand and improve the UK youth circus sector, so that every child will one day have the chance to learn circus.