Working life: Glen Stewart on the business of training circus skills

The National Centre for Circus Arts is a charity that provides circus education, including a BA Hons degree in Circus Arts, a training programme for under-18s and professional development for performers

Glen Stewart
Glen Stewart

We are a charity that offers circus training to young people and adults, and we focus on outreach and widening participation in circus, which is a physical activity that can span language and different backgrounds.

I started out in gymnastics and then moved into teaching circus skills such as trampolining, handstands and tumbling before I got my current job as director of training.

My role is to look at training delivery, to get a consistent methodology across the different areas and age groups that we teach. We're also developing teacher accreditation, because there isn't any formal training at the moment.

I spend a lot of time talking to senior management about how to move things forward, both within our centre and in the wider circus scene, as well as talking to teachers about what needs they have and how we can meet them.

I also spend time talking to experts from other sports - traditionally, circus training hasn't checked in with the latest sports science, for example, so I'm trying to see what I can bring back to our sector from that.

In this job, I love the fact that I'm surrounded by amazing trainers, watching circus all the time and having conversations with these teachers.

What's great about circus is that it's physically very varied but it's also fun, allows you to be artistic and doesn't have a right or wrong way to do things in the way other sports do.

But that can also be a challenging factor - because there is no set way to do things, it can be very hard to work out what standards we should teach to.

We got the title of "national centre" in March last year, and that's been great. But it means there's a lot of demand for resources. Nevertheless, we're hoping to reach as many people as possible because we can see the benefits of what we do - circus is a great way to engage young people right through to adulthood.

Click here for more about the National Centre for Circus Arts

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