Adaptation Series - Greentop Circus

Create Sheffield

Following the Partner support session with schools, Create Sheffield met again with its Partners and a few other brilliant cultural practitioners on the 29th July to ask how they had changed their practice to respond to the Covid-19 situation, what innovations they were proud of, and what had been successful enough to repeat. Here is what Tim from Greentop Circus had to say. 

About us

Most of what we do is teaching circus skills – it’s hands on, and it tends to need specialised equipment such as juggling clubs and unicycles, or it needs a lot of space and crash mats (acrobatics and aerial).

How have you changed your practise?

We have remodelled our weekly aerial classes – we now run only 1 class at a time and each person has their own kit. There is lots of cleaning of crash mats and touch points around the centre.

We don’t know how to work with beginners yet as in the past we could have physically assisted them, but now we have to socially distance.

Early in lockdown we offered bags of circus kit to our youth participants, to support them whilst they were at home. We sent them video links too – some instructional and some inspirational.

Later we came up with ideas for doing circus with things you can find around your house, or making props with things you can find easily - paper balance cones, sock poi, juggling balls, scarf juggling with plastic bags. We have made videos on how to make these props and how to use them.

We have been working with our Youth Troupe, with weekly sessions, challenges and classes over Zoom. The classes went ok, but there are limitations with teaching on Zoom. Much better than nothing though.

The Youth Troup have made two great videos. The videos were made at home by each participant and then sent on to be edited into one video.

We have made videos for the Healthy Holidays scheme that are part of the package being promoted through the Sheffield Star. We have also remodelled our circus outreach workshops, and are delivering 6 a week for 6 weeks as part of the Healthy Holidays scheme.

As with our weekly classes this is all about cleaning, social distancing, and having enough equipment that no-one has to share. Also PPE for our tutors – gloves, masks, face shields

We had received funding to do R&D into our Creative and Active project that was intended to go into schools as part of their PE lessons from this Autumn. As part of this we had established a partnership with a member of staff at Beck Primary School.

We ended up putting a first draft of a 4 week programme together to support the teacher at Beck Primary in working with a Year 6 bubble for 4 weeks when schools reopened. We delivered bags of circus kit to the school, gave them lesson plans and videos to support activity both in school and at home.

This has been a success, and we are now creating a 6 week programme as a second option for schools in the next academic year. Recent government focus on tackling obesity increases our feeling that this project is timely and will be well received.

What innovation are you most proud of?

Probably the Creative and Active, because it’s a significant undertaking, done at speed that has been very well received.

Innovation aside, I was most proud with how staff and the wider circus community came together to solve problems and rise to the challenges. The amount of goodwill that has been shown to us by weekly class participants is really humbling.

What has been successful enough to repeat?

Everything has worked. Weekly classes will continue. Healthy Holiday sessions and other outreach sessions will do so too. Creative and Active is now being edited in the light of 4 weeks’ experience, and a 6 week version is being created.

We don’t have any plans to continue with any exclusively online activities, although that’s not to say that we won’t be using the videos and other resources that we have created.

Visit Greentop Circus' Partner page and read their news bulletin to keep up to date with the great work they are doing.