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Simply Circus. 14 Pierrepont Rd (617) 527-0667 Newton, MA 02462 Info@SimplyCircus.com www.SimplyCircus.com. Skills Pathways and Progressions.

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simply circus

Simply Circus

14 Pierrepont Rd (617) 527-0667

Newton, MA 02462 Info@SimplyCircus.com

www.SimplyCircus.com

skills pathways and progressions

Skills Pathways and Progressions

A look at how and why we classify and rate circus skills the way we do

Presentation by Steven Santos

key points for this presentation
Key points for this presentation
  • Pedagogical Models in Common Use
    • Neighbor model (My first Advanced Juggler)
    • Teacher Specific Model
    • Applied Skills Model
    • Skill Grouping Model
  • Developing a written pedagogy
    • Why? Why not?
    • Recording your schools pedagogy
    • Implementing and standardizing your schools pedagogy
slide4
Pedagogy is defined as:

“the art or science of teaching”

When we talk about circus pedagogies, we are usually talking about the individual skills we teach, and the order and context in which we teach them. 

slide5
As students and as teachers of the circus arts its important for us to understand and recognize that all of the various pedagogical systems in use are valid methods of looking at circus skills, and that these systems contain a tremendous amount of embedded knowledge.
slide6
By comparing and contrasting various circus pedagogies we are able to unearth a great deal of this otherwise hidden knowledge.

By comparing and contrasting how a given school looks at circus arts you gain an understanding of what they teach, when they teach it, and more importantly, why they do it the way they do.

circus pedagogical models
Circus Pedagogical Models
  • Today we have a great many pedagogies or classification systems for circus skills.
  • We will discuss the 4 basic approaches to developing circus skills pedagogies
  • We will take a brief look at some of the systems created using those approaches
  • and finally we will help you plan your own.
neighbor model
Neighbor Model
  • Pros
    • Always keeps advancement within reach
    • Easy to use
  • Cons
    • Not stable
    • Not clearly defined
    • Makes advancement a moving target
teacher specific model
Teacher Specific Model
  • Pros
    • Easily adaptable to the individual teacher
    • As a teacher you base the class off of
      • what you are comfortable with
      • what you have for equipment
      • the order you like to teach
    • Most prevalent pedagogical model for circus skills
slide10
Cons
    • Hard when more than one teacher teaches the same skills
    • Advancement is entirely teacher dependant
    • Difficult to move from teacher to teacher
    • Mediocre teacher may not be able to help students consistently advance
    • Advancement tends to be more subjective
    • From an administrative point of view, its a lot harder to replace a teacher who is also the pedagogy. 
applied skills model
Applied Skills Model
  • Background
    • The Applied Skill Model is a quasi-pedagogical approach where an individual skill is defined, and then all possible applications of that skill are defined.
    • Historically done by fans and researchers, and not by performers / teachers
slide12

On a moving apparatus

    • On aerial silks
    • On aerial straps
    • On a trapeze bar
    • On a slack wire
    • On a rola bola
  • On a partner
    • Hand-to-hand handstand
    • Etc…
  • On an animal
    • On a horse
    • On an elephant
  • Handstand Variations and transitions
    • One handed handstand
    • Handstand Jumps
  • Handstand
    • Types of hand stands
      • Banana Handstand
      • FIG Standard Handstand
      • Modified FIG Handstand
    • On the ground
      • Against a wall
      • Supported by a partner 
      • Free standing
    • On a fixed apparatus
      • On hand balancing blocks
      • On hand balancing canes
      • On a chair
      • On a pommel horse
      • On a balance beam
      • On a tight wire
slide13
Pros
    • For someone that is new to the world of circus, the attraction of the applied skill method is clear; “I can learn a few skills and implement them 25 different ways!”
    • The Applied skill method is a great way for non performers to understand what they are seeing.
    • Useful to performers when looking for new applications of existing skills
slide14
Cons
    • Due to the complexity of this model, it is rare to find it in use, though versions have been published
    • Nightmare to use for teaching
    • Nightmare to try and keep updated. 
skill grouping models
Skill Grouping Models
  • Background
    • Second most prevalent pedagogical model
    • Groups skills that are commonly used together, and places them under logical organizational and teaching groupings.
    • Uses a pragmatic approach, with categories, sub-categories and individual skill grouping being based on clearly defined, objective criteria.
slide16
Pros
    • Reproducible across classes, sections, teachers, and programs
    • Allows for clear, objective pathways for advancement
    • Not nearly as dependant on the pedagogical skills of the individual teaching as other models are. 
    • When done well it doesn’t hurt a good teacher
    • When done well it can allow a mediocre teacher to perform at a higher level
    • When done well, allows different approaches to successfully coexist (e.g. Russian and Chinese Hand Balancing)
slide17
Cons
    • High level of difficulty in creating the initial system
    • Requires ongoing work to maintain
    • Requires compromises
    • Often fosters rigidity
    • Sometimes difficult learning curve needed to apply it
slide18
Examples of pedagogies based on the Skill Grouping Model include:
    • Gurevich system (Moscow Circus School)
    • Hovey Burgess (Circus Technique)
    • Simply Circus
slide20
Background
    • In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s The Gurevich system of the Moscow Circus School was created.
    • This system is the basis for the curricula of the Russian Circus School.
  • Pros
    • As far as we have been able to tell, this was the first major attempt to classify all known circus skills in an objective manor.
    • Arguably the most widely used circus arts pedagogy in the world, as it forms the basis for so many countless others systems.
slide21

Cons

    • Inconsistent
    • Branches out, but does not reconnect
    • Obvious fiefdoms present
slide23
Pros
    • Well researched
    • Compact system
    • Encompasses very large range of skills
  • Cons
    • Doesn’t expand easily
    • Hard to find things that match the system
    • Doesn’t “drill down” very deeply
simply circus system
Simply Circus System
  • Background
    • First incarnation was as a Neighbor system
    • Second incarnation was a Teacher Specific System
    • Third incarnation as a Skill Grouping System
slide25
The Simply Circus framework breaks circus skills down into 8 main categories. These categories are:
    • Prop / Object Manipulation.
    • Equilibristic Skills.
    • Aerial Skills.
    • Acrobatic Skills
    • Drama Skills.
    • Dangerous Skills
    • Trained Animal Acts
  • Each of those categories is then broken down into logical skill sets.
  • Those logical skill sets are then further broken down into difficulty levels with defined skills.
slide26
Prop / Object Manipulation. Any set of circus skills where the performer entertains the audience primarily by manipulating an object.
  • Equilibristic Skills. (1) Any set of circus skills where the performer entertains the audience by balancing on top of an object (2) Any circus skill that relies primarily on the 3 points of balance theory.
  • Aerial Skills. Any set of circus skills where the performer entertains the audience with feats of dexterity primarily performed while hanging from an overhead point or points.
  • Acrobatic Skills. Any set of circus skills where the performer entertains the audience primarily with feats of dexterity primarily performed on the ground
slide27
Drama Skills. Any dramatic skill*
    • Acting and Stage Combat
    • Clowning and Pantomime
    • Magic and Illusion
    • Dance
    • Music / Voice
  • Dangerous Skills. Any set of circus skill where the performer entertains the audience primarily with “daredevil” or “sideshow” feats of danger. (Color code: Red)
  • Trained Animal Acts. Any act where the audience is entertained primarily by means of trained animal(s).

* This section will be further broken down

slide28
Pros
    • Each skill category is based on a common thread, usually a theory or central concept
    • System is easy to follow
    • System is easily expandable
    • Lots of supporting material available
    • All components are regularly revised
  • Cons
    • Complex system
    • Tracking generates fair amount of paperwork
    • Variation from the system requires approval
    • Full system is only available to Simply Circus
    • $$$ - Was expensive to develop
slide29
Syllabus – 120+ page document that guides students through all of our defined skill progressions
  • Dictionary defines every term used in the Syllabus, as well as any of our textbooks
  • Growing collection of textbooks written specifically for the system (currently 16)
slide30

Skill sheet

Handbook

recording your schools pedagogy
Recording your schools pedagogy
  • What do you want out of this system?
  • Start with what you already do
    • Record what you currently teach
    • Write up what you have taught in the past
  • Look at it objectively
    • Are you teaching what you want your student to learn?
    • Does what you are teaching fit together?
slide32
Keep revising the system
    • Add to the system as you learn
    • Don’t be afraid to do a major rewrite when needed
    • When your system stops changing, ask yourself why?
slide33
Places to look for information
    • In your own paperwork
      • Class descriptions
      • P&P
      • Handouts
    • In your library
      • Books
      • Magazines
    • Online
      • Other Circus Schools
implementation issues
Implementation Issues
  • Time
  • Staff Buy In
  • Student Buy In
  • Paperwork
  • $$$$