Testimony – Isabel Van Maele ’s project in the UK

Isabel Van Maele from Cirkus In Beweging (Leuven, Belgium) tells us about her mobility project in the UK

My name is Isabel Van Maele. I live in Belgium and  I am 46 years old.
I discovered circus during my Physical Education studies at university. Additionaly, I finished a circus trainer programm in Brussels in 1993 and  I have been teaching circus ever since. This is my job and  I love it.
I am based at Cirkus in Beweging in Leuven. This youth circus school started little, but has expanded a lot. Our team of two main teachers grow as well, as more than 1000 participants come each week to attend our classes.
I am teaching teenager, students and adults to become a circus trainer. I am responsable for our national teacher training programm, and  I took part in the writing of the European Trainer Programme Handbook of the CATE project you can find online. I am teaching multidisciplinar skills to all ages, but am also specialised in teaching acrobatics and aerials! I developed a method for myself, combining creativity adn technical training.

During this 23 years of teaching  I never got the chance to go and observe other trainers teaching aerials to their kids.

I was delighted to go and visit the Circus Project in Brighton-Hove. a little school, specialised in teaching aerials for all ages.

I am very thankful to this Erasmus+ project and the people that made it happen.

I was generously hosted by Vicki McManus, artistic director and head instructor. I got to know a couple of their friends too, mainly all artists. I went to see some circus performances, as the yearly Brighon Fringe Festival was on. We admired an emotionally touching light&sound show, projected onto the Royal Pavilion. It was based on the letters that injured Indian soldiers wrote to their families, during World War I. Another day we went for a drive and  spent a day at the amazing cliffs of Beachy Head.

One day, we travelled to London and visited the National Centre of Circus Arts (former called Circus Space). We got a tour in the building and had a interesting talk with one of the trainers ,

who is  involved with their internal teacher training.
The last weekend, there was a family festival in Hove Gardens. The youth performance group showed their solos, and I got a change to improvise on the trapeze as well.

I was very pleased to be able to stay two weeks. It gave me the possibilities to watch their methods of teaching, in all their classes and to see the continued work the next week.

I appreciated a lot the joyfulness that was very apparent in the children’s classes. Vicki as a teacher and as a person laughs a lot! This brings a happy atmosphere!
The kids were very noisy and felt very clearly at home. Being able to express themselves and learning to be  respectful for each other and each other work. They were all very busy creating and rehearsing their  personal routine. It was all written down by themselves, in notebooks Vicki kept for them on a shelf. At the end of the class, some boys showed their work. Even the music they’ve chosen themselves! (Mysterious,adventurous music!)
What was great to see as well, was that there was a lot of freedom of choice. Every child could choose their own aerial equipment, choose if they wanted to play or to train, to work together or alone, to fly or to juggle…
Some elder siblings were assisting, as well as Caterina, an italian aerialist, ending her 3 months of volunteering at the Project. So the children could get a lot of attention and feedback if they wanted.

I felt more at ease the second week to share some aerial games.
The children, youngster and teachers were having a great time with it.

I not only met new collegues, I made new friends! I will go back for sure to be together once more!
The Circus Project will try to organize a teacher training in November, and i will be guest teacher.

I want to thank everybody involved in this SCREAM project to create this opportunity
and will surely recommend job shadowing with Erasmus+  to new people!