Testimony – Nicola’s project in Belgium

Nicola Fletcher from Leeds Children’s Circus through their partnership with Everything is Possible (United Kingdom) tells us about her mobility project with Cirkus In Beweging (Leuven, Belgium):

So a little bit about me… I also am a volunteer and trustee for a small charity circus club, Leeds children’s circus (in partnership with Everything is Possible), I’ve worked there for over 7years and I’m really passionate about the club and want to improve it anyway I can, which is why I wanted to do this trip to get an insight to how other circus projects run and learn from other teachers. Just before setting off for Belgium it was Halloween and as a professional face painter & circus artist I worked everyday up until the day I flew out so didn’t have much time to prepare or think about what things we would be getting up to in the following weeks.

“I got to participate in the workshops and really learn how other teaches teach some of my favourite skills, juggling, unicycling and multi circus”.

The first week we spent a lot of time going to meetings and watching several shows which was great fun but at the same time frustrating as I wanted to see more of the classes. This was the week the Rode Hond children’s festival was happening so went to the opening ceremony, watch our cirkus’ show at the theatre and participated in the workshops happening on the weekend in the school. We also went to see the local traditional circus show and one of our organisers had a meeting with the circus about future collaborations. We also went on a trip to Ghent to meet with the youth director of circus centrum and discussed about the running of circus schools, projects and funding. In the second week I was much more in my element as the circus schools programs were back on and I got to participate in the workshops and really learn how other teaches teach some of my favourite skills, juggling, unicycling and multi circus.
The language barrier was strange, all the lessons was taught in Belgium so a couple was hard to follow but the majority was fine to follow and join in with. Everyone was very friendly and majority of the adults could speak a bit of English so on day to day there was no problems.
Biggest culture shock was the amount of bicycles on the road it was wonderful to see them everywhere. Also the architecture was astounding, it was a pleasure to walk round and see such stunning old buildings in the middle of city’s we visited.

In my free time I spent a a lot of time walking round the city’s exploring and getting lost. I also would train in the hall and I even taught a hula hoop class to the teachers one afternoon. As a treat we went to visit the Brussels juggling convention, watched an amazing show and also played and partied with fellow circus artists. And of course I really enjoyed reading a good book in my down time.

Professionally the biggest thing I learnt was how important it is to plan, prepare and structure workshops

especially if we want to expand and offer more classes, and have teacher training within our own club. Personally I’ve realised how important it is to work as a team and have the support there to start new projects and teaching classes.

Thanks to the Erasmus+ project I had the chance to travel and learn about the the fantastic Cirkus in Beweging school, I now have more insight to how bigger schools run and organise themselves and lots of ideas how I can improve our own little club.