Professional Preparatory Program (P3)
Taking Circus Arts to the Next Level
What goes into the education of a modern circus artist?
The SANCA Pre-professional program curriculum is designed to address the skills and performance styles expected of high level circus artists by both touring companies and professional schools. While many circus traditions and styles are present and thriving in the circus world, the expectations of companies that hire circus performers are heavily influenced by one company. Cirque du Soleil’s reinvention of the circus into a stylized and refined form of performance art created a venue for circus artists who had a high level of skill as well as the ability to act, move gracefully, and command an audience.
The National circus school of Montreal has been creating circus artists in the same vein for over 30 years with students who create prize winning acts in worldwide competitions on a regular basis. This school in Montreal is the primary source of students in the style of circus arts made famous by Cirque du Soleil, and was started by some of the original founding members. The graduates of their school have become the defining example of quality in circus arts training in North America.
Their curriculum includes Ballet and Modern Dance, Hand balancing, Tumbling, Trampoline, and Partner acrobatics. Lecoq based theater method, Mask, Mime, European Clown, Physical improvisation, Ensemble movement, Basic stage craft, and Choreography. To a lesser extent, students are required to have a general education in all circus arts that they are not specializing in. This includes introductory lessons in Tightwire, unicycle, stilts, or rola-bola as a balance prop, Juggling, acrobatics, wheeled apparatus, as well as some aerial experience on rope, and trapeze.
Students are expected to be formidable on stage. They need to fearlessly hold the attention of the audience, faithfully embody wildly diverse characters, and be peripherally aware of every other performer and prop on the stage. They work very hard under enormous pressure, to get incredibly difficult and daring skills. They practice these skills endlessly to ensure they can be performed safely on a touring show, where they are performed more than six times a week, all year long.
SANCA recognizes a wide variety of circus culture
At the SANCA pre-professional program, we address the individual elements that go together to form Montreal’s style of circus training so that students have a foundational basis in the core subjects that define quality in a modern circus artist. But SANCA also recognizes a wider diversity of circus styles and performance that come from many parts of the circus world. These influences include traditional American and European circus performance, fringe and independent small troupe shows, street performance, vaudeville, and cabaret styles of circus performance. The traditions and performance choices available in each style create in our students the opportunity for many imaginative combinations of genre in their original work.
The SANCA gym is recognized nationally as a circus gym where professional performers can train and create new work when they have down-time in the off-season, or between contracts. Circus artists in a wide variety of performance styles are continually interacting with our students because SANCA is home to many circus artists that are currently performing professionals. Artists in Residence who train at SANCA throughout the year come from a wide diversity of styles and disciplines.
Many of them interact with our pre-professional students, offering advice and insights in a classroom setting, speaking about real world challenges and solutions in the business and lifestyle of a circus performer. Artists in Residence guest coach, passing along the skills and techniques of their specialty. Our students train alongside working professionals while they are in the process of creation, and have the opportunity to see works in progress for future productions.