Want to run away and join the circus? You can, and here are the classes that will train you!

Yes, the circus is serious work, and life as a circus showman/woman is gruelling. Just an idea of what you’re in for: the actual audition for Cirque du Soleil can take up to two days.

Singapore has several local circus groups, like Circus in Motion, and some of them have classes that you can join. But the full range of circus skills is pretty extensive, ranging from slacklining to trapezes to poi (swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmic and geometrical patterns). If you want to specialise in juggling and vaulting, there are dedicated classes that will teach you those specific skills, too.

But ultimately, you’d need to be adept at a wide range of equilibristics: circus skills which involve balancing or maintaining equilibrium.

So how do you develop equilibristics? Is it just a matter of being good at gymnastic and yoga? You’d need to attend some classes, and here are the best classes in Singapore you should take before sending in those resumes to circuses (yes, of course you’d need a resume).


1. Circus Arts

Circus skills are also known as circus arts, and that’s a good place to start if you’re joining the circus. You can learn seven different types of circus skills at the aforementioned local circus, Circus in Motion, like building human pyramids or balancing on walking globes. A walking globe is something like large, hard exercise ball which can support a human person’s weight. If you think it’s difficult to balance on a walking globe, you’re absolutely right – that’s why it’s a skill you’ll need to learn!

Advanced classes also includes slacklining (walking on a slack rope, as opposed to a tightrope), as well as using fire props (safety first!). Fire props are, as the name implies, props that are lit on fire. The most common performance art with fire props is juggling, but there are other, more complicated tricks you can do with fire props.

That’s your first step to joining the circus!


2. Aerial Arts

You know those performances where a person unwraps and balances himself or herself on a fragile-looking piece of silk? That’s called the aerial silk, and it’s taught at the aptly named Aerial Fitness Studio. Being able to perform in mid-air with the use of supporting apparatus is known as aerial acrobatics, or more poetically, the aerial arts. So all those times you saw circus performers somersaulting through the air from trapeze to trapeze – those are aerial arts.

It’s a little bit like pole dancing, except that the aerial apparatus used is usually not fixed in place – so you have to deal with holding on to something that’s constantly moving, and you have to look graceful while doing it. But if you can master it, it’ll look like you’re effortlessly gliding through the air – almost like you’re flying.

And if you train hard enough, you could even become Batman’s sidekick!


3. Parkour

The common misconception is that parkour is about leaping from rooftop to rooftop, when it’s actually about movement techniques that allow you to navigate any sort of environment, which Move Academy teaches. It has its roots in military obstacle courses, although it’s not as annoying as the Standard Obstacle Course is (and a lot more fun). You’ll learn to vault, move on all fours like a spider (quadrupedal movement), and even do specialised jumps called cat leaps.

The best part is that you don’t need a specialised studio to learn parkour – it can be practised in any sort of urban environment, as long as there are structures and obstacles for you to move over, under, around, or even through (like rails and poles). You’ll get to move like a video game character or Ninja Warrior contestant, but in real-life!


4. Gymnastics

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Of course, no list of skills would be complete without a gymnastics class, which provides a good foundation for most circus skills. We’ve all learnt basic gymnastics during P.E., but Alpha Gymnastics teaches it at an advanced level. Since gymnastics can be practised both competitively and recreationally, they offer classes at both levels. It’s a good way to start picking up circus skills in a familiar context, because you’d probably know one or two gymnastic tricks.

A gymnast isn’t the same as a circus performer, but they share a significant overlap in the skills learnt. Just saying!


5. Windsurfing

Windsurfing. Credit: ConstantWind

Windsurfing. Credit: ConstantWind

No, you’re probably not going to be doing any windsurfing performances if you’re in a circus act. But windsurfing trains you to manoeuvre with your body weight, and that’s helpful when it comes to balancing acts and anything that has to do with you maintaining your centre of gravity. The optimistic outlook of ConstantWind is also a helpful attitude towards windsurfing (in that you’ll have a constant wind at your back!).



6. Running with Baey Yam Keng

If you don’t already know, MP Baey Yam Keng holds regular running sessions known as Running with Baey Yam Keng and you can check out all the #RunWithBYK photos on Instagram. Although running is not technically a circus skill that you’d need to explicitly hone for the circus, stamina is. It takes great endurance to be a circus performer, because you’d need to sustain a tremendous amount of exertion over a long period of time.

The best part of Running with Baey Yam Keng is that it is, of course, free. Plus, you’ll get a wefie or two out of it, and you’ll be forever immortalised on our Parliamentary Secretary’s Instagram account (if he posts a wefie of you running with him after that). We think it’s a great deal.


The Greatest Showman. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

The Greatest Showman. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Which circus would you join once you’ve acquired all the necessary skills? If it were up to us, we’d say the Barnum & Bailey Circus, but it closed earlier this year on 21 May. It called itself “The Greatest Show on Earth”, but do you know the story of founder P.T. Barnum?

That’s what musical The Greatest Showman will tell you, as it spins a yarn about the birth of show business and depicts the rise of the legendary P.T. Barnum and “The Greatest Show on Earth”. It stars Wolverine and Mary Jane Hugh Jackman and Zendaya, and it’s completely original! It’s not an adaptation of an existing stage musical or a novel. That’a a rarity in film musicals these days, and such bold originality should be applauded.

Do you think P.T. Barnum was The Greatest Showman?

Credits: Golden Village Cinemas, Constant Wind