Testimony – Nicola’s project in Estonia


Nicola Hemsley from kaos youth circus Ltd  (United Kingdom) tells us about her mobility project with Tsirkus Folie ( Tallinn, Estonia):

My Name is Nicola Hemsley and I am the founder and managing director of organised kaos youth circus Ltd·  during a chance meeting in London on the 14th February 2015, I found out about Suitcase Circus, and attended  a meeting in the National Centre for circus, where we discussed partnerships and mobility with a variety of international circus partners. Terje Bernadt,  invited me to Estonia in September 2015. I was motivated to become involved having met Terje on a previous exchange in Berlin, and was excited to be finally able to visit Tallin, and work alongside Circus Folie and Terje.

During my mobility in Estonia, I job shadowed Terje, as she delivered her new term of circus activities,

as well as attending the Circus Tree festival, which Folie were hosting. We also supported Terje on some of the company’s outdoor events and shows post festival, and worked alongside Terje and her staff to raise the profile of circus in Estonia. During the festival I was fortunate enough to attend all but one of the programmed shows, and had a fabulous opportunity to attend a Baltic-Nordic circus network meeting which has once again enabled me to create new professional contacts as well as many new circus friends.
The performances scheduled for the festival were inspiring and included one performance from a French-Italian company which had not only me, but the entire audience crying with laughter for the duration of the show. It was a reminder and a lesson that Circus does not need to be complicated in its narrative, and that truly less is more.
My accommodation was a fabulous room at the top of the Tallin Royal Opera House, it was spacious and well thought out. It became an interesting experience nightly wandering through the building to get up to the rooms. Food during my stay was more problematic, and I found I was catering for myself most of the time, as well as eating out in some of the old towns fabulous and traditional restaurants. Tallin, is a walled town, close to the sea, and surrounded by some amazing parks. During my down time I visited churches, museums, parks and a lovely stroll along the beach. Terje also took us out to the family’s summer house, where we picked berries, and Rika and Ohiane were brave enough to go for a swim! The shout of this is Team building did not entice me in to the water, I watched from a safe and dry distance!!
English is spoken widely throughout Estonia, and communication was not problematic, the older generation do not speak much English, however this did not present a problem as everyone I met was warm, welcoming and keen to help and advise, even if it was using the international language of hand gestures and smiles!

“Erasmus, it’s a wonderful way to connect the world, create opportunities to grow and share, and experience different cultures”.

Professionally I learnt a lot through conversations with Terje, Rika, and Ohiane, we discussed practice and methodology regularly as well as addressing issues all our organisations faced such as funding, income generating activities and how to increase the profile of Circus in a positive and constructive manner.
What I loved from Folie, was the circle time between staff and students at the start and end of all sessions, I will now put that into my practice going forward with my project.
I would recommend getting involved in Erasmus as it’s a wonderful way to connect the world, create opportunities to grow and share, and experience different cultures. For me the best thing was learning that organisations across a continent work in the same way, and face the same issues as we do here in Wales. Thank you Erasmus for creating this project and subsequent mobility, I had a great time with great people.

Nicola Hemsley