Social Circus Program – Method learned by Jonas Van Soom in Argentina

Jonas Van Soom from Cirkus In Beweging (Leuven, Belgium) presents a method he learned during his mobility project in Argentina:

The ‘Method’ I will describe is actually a social circus program that is developed in different countries in South America and is supported by Cirque Du Soleil and the local authorities: The project aims to develop the ‘soft skills’ for young unemployed people.
The program has 2 parts, a practical part where they learn computer skills and the ‘soft skills’ part where circus and circus-theatre is used to develop them.

The class is observed consisted of a group of 15 men and women. Some of the  women even had their kids with them in buggy on the side.
I noticed that the teacher Lionel took a lot of time for each exercise and takes little steps  when changing exercises. He wants to create an atmosphere where the participants feel comfortable and  discover their capabilities.

The session started with simple individual clapping exercises which developed to more complex clapping games with 2 or more people. At the end of the session the participants had to create a performance related to the different clapping exercises. During the rehearsal they could do their routines but no one could do it right when they were showing this to the group. The Teacher gave feedback during the different performances and let them try again and again, also here he took a lot of time, the participant were surprisingly motivated to do their routine right. After the performance the teacher started with some juggling exercises. At that point one of the participants wanted to leave, it looked like the participant could already juggle because he had some juggling equipment with him, the teacher took his time to talk with him, I could not understand is but from his gestures I could understand that the teachers wanted to respect his decision to leave but tried to convince him of the importance to stay in the course.

For me this ‘Method’ is quit new, it links social circus with the labor market. In Belgium we have from time to time our circus team-building workshops but that is mostly orientated to bigger companies. These kind of programs are  socially orientated but also have a direct functional orientation to the labor market.