Stepping out of your comfort zone with Dublin Circus Project

By Fantine Carron

After being closed for more than a year, Dublin Circus Project reopened its doors in September to provide a space for artists to express themselves and allow young people to try a different hobby.

The Dublin Circus Project provides a space for artists to express themselves (Photo Source)

The Dublin Circus Project has been through a lot of changes before becoming what it is today. What started off in 2009 as a juggling society, has now become a true collective of artists who all share a common passion for the circus.

Angelica Santander, who joined the project in 2012, and is now the head tutor, talked with journalist, Fantine Carron about the project and the benefit of practising circus.

“The Dublin Circus Project really started to kick off in 2013 when we rented our first place, it was an old garage in Frederick Court that we renovated,” she said. “Our main goal was the professional development of artists and we finally had a platform for artists to create and represent their work and be supported in the process.”

In this new space, they were able to offer their first classes to adults and develop their initial few shows.

In 2015, they moved to a different location which was more adapted to the needs of acrobatics. This new place, situated in Cabra, allowed them to host residences, create several cabarets, and pursue their classes. They also started working with schools around the area to offer classes to children.

Now, they are located in The Orchard Community Centre in Cherry Orchard.

The pandemic deeply impacted the Dublin Circus Project as they had to close down for more than a year.

“It was very tough. We did do some online teaching but it is complex because it is obviously easier to be in person. For advanced people, it was manageable but not for beginners. At the same time, it was a good exercise to try and think outside the box.” says Angelica Santander.

Throughout the lockdowns, they posted around forty videos on YouTube allowing people to learn circus while at home.

It opened its door once again last September, and teaching was able to start again in line with the government’s guidelines.

“We are now teaching smaller groups, we wear masks, wash our hands, and open the windows regularly.”

Angelica Santander’s speciality is clowning but she is passionate about circus as a whole.

“It is a form of art,” she said, “and it has tons of benefits. It teaches resilience and empathy. It also gives a great connection with your body and your mind. You can relax and only focus on what you are doing.”

She takes the example of juggling. “You have three balls in the air, or five, but only two hands, it’s a great brain exercise because you have to find a way to make it work.”

One of Dublin Circus Project’s mission is also to give a safe space for everybody.

“We want to make sure that there is a space for everyone, circus is very inclusive. It provides a positive atmosphere because there is no competition. You are not competing with your colleagues but you are motivated by them,” said Angelica Santander.

“Art is not competitive.”

For her, the only competition is when you are competing with yourself to get better. Her advice is simple: “whatever you are good at or whatever you like the most, just practice to get better”.

“If you fail, it is okay too. Failure is part of the process, it is not against it. You need failure in order to get better and many people tend to forget that, they try to avoid it.” 

Santander shared how “hopeful” she was for the future.

“It started off as a young company run by young people. It is actually a good example of achieving your dreams because we grew so much in a short time and we worked so hard to be there so we are not going to stop now.”

For Angelica Santander, there is still plenty more to do. Her main goal now, shared by the Dublin Circus Project is for circus to be added to schools curriculum. “We believe that it is more than PE and that if you take the competitiveness out, people will flourish.”

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