Aerial Masterclass

November 2015 - Neerpelt (Belgium)


This is the workshop program

13:30 – 18:00 Arrival and welcome

To use all the valuable time for the masterclass program we advise to gather everyone the day before at the venue.

20.00 – 22.00 Explanation of project and program – getting to know each other

This is where the masterclass coordinator presents the preliminary program and together with the masterclass participants fills in the open spaces with the input and wishlists of the participants.

09:00 – 12:00 Physical safety with aerials

Workshop awareness of physical preparation – warming-up and cooling-down


13:30-15:30 Exchange


  • long term / short term
  • working with different age groups
16:00 -18:00 Practical session

Practical session by participants on aerial games. Personal project presentation participant on impulse and emotion into motion.


20:00 -22:00 Free exchange time

Free exchange in the program is essential for informal learning. Provide a safe and well equipped space and a clear time slot.

09:00 – 10:00 Warming-up by Participants

Check GAMES for more input

10:00 – 12:00 Workshop on spotting


Cooling-down by participants

13:30-15:30 Workshop on social/emotional safety


16:00 -18:00 Workshop on social and emotional safety


20:00 -22:00 Free exchange time
09:00 – 10:00 Warming-up by Participants
10:00 – 12:00 Skill-based masterclass by Vicky Amedume


13:30-15:30 Exchange Teaching Creativity on aerials

CHECK: our webpage TECHNIQUE – Circus Mash Teaching Cards on aerial hoop, trapeze and silk and Joe’s explanatory video CHECK: our webpage GAMES- No.10: Warming-up game for kids with autism and their families

16:00 -18:00 Free exchange time and Preparation teaching Day 4
20:00 -22:00 Technical safety: rigging and approaches to risk


Special program: exchange between masterclass participants and visiting trainers and teachers in their early stages of teaching. This proves to be a valuable asset to the program, to both masterclass participants and the visiting trainers and teachers from the hosting party.
09:00 -15:30 Teaching the visiting trainers

Four aerial workshops in three rounds plus information on the PEYC Project.

Topics of workshops:
  • aerial games/ trapeze
  • basic skills in silks
  • aerial hoop tricks
  • physical preparation for aerials
  • double trapeze/swop roles
  • aerial games/ silks
  • use of slings/rigging
  • circus theatre for groups
  • spotting – obligatory for all participants
  • creative trapeze stuff – all levels
  • doubles on silks/ropes
  • manipulation body work – all ages
16:00 -18:00 Free /exchange time and cooling down for everyone – end of program visiting teachers and trainers
20:00 -22:00 Free exchange time for masterclass participants
09:30-12:00 Evaluation
13:30-15:30 Free exchange time on aerial technique
16:00 -18:00 Departure time – cleaning up and goodbyes


Find inspiration for your lessons

foto bij teachingRead everything on:

Working with groups:

Rigging, safety, equipment and responsibility:

Also check Circus Rigging by Noé Robert

foto bij rigging 1 foto bij rigging 2 foto bij rigging 3



Fun games for warming up and to teach aerial techniques

Before you begin

These exercises – on the edge of fear – will make you (and your particpants) widefoto games head of page awake. While doing warming-up exercises, you keep the group excited all the time!

Please note:

  • Do not do this with untrained people.
  • Start with just small, simple and general warming-up the joints like roll shoulders, etc.
  • Use rhythm to keep attention.
  • End the warming-up games session with a group stretch for shoulders: stand in a circle as a group, hands around each others shoulders and then help each other to stretch.

Very important:

  • With small kids avoid competition. The younger the group, the less competition the better.
  • Practice the games with the mats a few times to be able to feel comfortable.
  • You need to know your self and your group very well.

Later on you can do for instance the Rugby Game: divide the group in two’s: one person tries to hold the other at the hips to prevent him from reaching the middle of the circle.

1. From impulse and emotion to motion

Description and aims of the session:

First you lay down on the floor. Now you find your personal impulse and use it to get into motion. Then use this impulse to move in the air. Don’t think about what you want to do, let the impulse move you. It is not new, you just use a different way to get into positions you already know.
>>Fundamental is that to find your personal impulse, you start with 1 emotion, coming from yourself, influenced by music and external factors. This takes time.

The most interesting, funny, important discovery in this session:
First it is very difficult, but the rhythm makes it much more playful. For 10-year olds you can adapt the exercise by telling them to go to an end position but the way to get there is from an impulse.

The most important insights regarding your knowledge on handling fear and safety when teaching in this particular topic:Make sure you don’t hurt yourself – so first do a warming up.

To find your impulse, Valentina advises a three week research – don’t expect a 1 hour session to be enough.

Other topics:
The project gave Valentina the opportunity to discover much more. The technique stays the same but allows you to find a different way to get there.

NOTE: it is annoying to do this work with silks, because you need much more preparation and it is more difficult to be surprised into a trick.

2. Hit each other

Make a circle with 6 to 8 persons around the knotted silk. Move it around.
You cannot move your feet.
If the silk hits you, you have to go to another group

3. Friend & enemy

You choose someone in the circle as a friend and you choose another one as an enemy.
Nobody can know.
When you start walking, your friend has to be between you and your enemy ALL THE TIME.
Reverse roles when the person leading the game gives a signal.

4. Mat games

Friend & Enemy can also be played underneath a crash mat (or if you are with a bigger group use 2 mats).
Don’t do this with untrained people.
With all mat games you need to practice a few times to be able to feel comfortable.
When working with small kids, do not use competition.
You need to know your group and yourself very well.
> All particpants are holding a mat above their heads.
> One lets the mat go, crawls over, crawls under and rejoins : everyone does this.
> Lying underneath a mat:foto bij mat games
Push up with your arms:
Same with someone on top of it,
One lets go, crawls over, under and rejoins.
> Lying underneath: balancing the mat on your feet:
> Running with mats in circles:
Run one circle, then throw mat on the floor and the whole group sits on the mat.
Same with one person on top of the mat.
One runner breaks out, runs around the mat and joins the group again.foto bij mat games 2
> Running with mats straight lines
Flip with someone on it
Flip in other side with someone on it.
> Sliding the mats (depends on the floor)
With 2, 3, 4, 5 persons

5. Annemaria Koekoek

Also known as:
Ein zwei drei Ochs am Berg(und ein Zwerg) or: Punainen valo valahti yksi kaksi kolme,
We call it One two three Trapeze using aerial exercises in it.
On the way to the person who calls out, you need also to do some given exercices like roll on the ground, shout out your name, climb on the silks, hang on the trapeze….before you are allowed to run to the shouter

6. Society game with dice

In pairs, every duo is playing at the same time
The great fun is working together, and it is nice to do with a whole group, it speeds up the energy. ..
Take care of safety and of warming-up positions

7. Statues

StatuesPlay some music.

Whenever you want , you make a statue. This can be an aerial position on the floor,

To free somebody, go and copy the position of another person and then this person can continue.

Use high and low positions.

8. Memory Game

Make your own memory game, with pictures you take from books, magazines, the internet.
In doing the game, insert assigments making the participants do warming-up and stretching.

9. Wolf and Tail

Start with warming-up, first just small general warming-up of the joints.
All participants hold on to a rope in a circle.
One has a scarf – his or her tail- and there is a wolf, outside of the rope running around, trying to get the tail while changing directions etc.

10. Warming-up game for kids with autism and their families

AIMS of this game:

  • To enable a free exploration of movements that are fundamental to developmental movement/wellbeing.
  • To offer a structure in which there is no right or wrong – we experiment with each movement and all explorations and choices are valued.

Start with music and walking around the room. If the music stops, find a position to see the world upside down. Variations:

  • crawling any way you like across the floor
  • spinning around in any kind of form
  • jump
  • shake

NOTE: focus on experimenting

  • Moving through the room, watching and touching the aerial material and use all the positions you did on the floor now using the material, with the same variations of shaking, spinning, etc… take lots of time and have lots of materials to choose from.
11. Tagging game with juggling materials

The taggers hold a piece of juggling material in their hands. For example, if a tagger holds a club and tags you, you need to do 2 push-ups, etcetera. Just choose whatever you want them to do to warm up.
You can not be tagged if you are jumping, but if the tagger turns around in front of you he can!
Exercise: Warming up in a circle: turn your arms but don’t take a lot of space. Come closer and take notice of the others, until you are shoulder to shoulder. Then put your arms around your neighbours and stretch together.

12. Falling and Flying

Everybody is walking around the room. Somebody says:
– I am falling – the others run to catch, or
– I want to fly – the others lift this person|
You can add:
– I need some space – the others back away.
Everybody can call whenever they want.

13. Warming up in the air


Warming up in the airDancing with all kinds of aerial equipment in the space. When the music stops and you are the last one to het up in the air you need to do for example 3 push ups, sing a song, etc.

> Everyone is moving on an aerial prop. When the music stops, freeze on the prop.

> Moving on different music styles – slow, fast, crazy, smooth, etcetera.

> Without music: when one person stops, everyone needs to feel it, and stop as well.

NOTE: in general, you can try and use every theater/ dance exercise in the air as well (adapt it).

14. Games to stimulate creativity

> Come together in groups of 3, find one aerial prop for your group, and each one does his/her favorite trick (but everybody needs to be able to do it).
> Find ways from one trick to the other trick – (finding in the transition at least two new tricks/transitions)
> Find a start for presenting your little routine, only one person can do it, but all the others need to be involved on stage.
> Find an closing of the routine.
> Show it to the others, asking the audience to watch with an special eye:
– one person just describes what he/she has seen
– second person tells what was very nice/interesting/boring/ exciting and explains – what emotions came up while watching.
– third person tells what can be improved.

15. Throw the dice - aerial board game



PLACE No 2,32&40 : Boomboomboom – out go the lights, close your eyes.
PLACE No 3 : Start up the game and already tired? Do your exercise very relaxed!
PLACE No 5&30 : Too late! Try to decide and do your position as quick as possible.
PLACE No 8&12,41 : The joy of circus is for everybody. Stop the game if you are ready, call all other participants, and show your exercise to the group.
PLACE No 9 : You arrived in the act Living Cannon Ball, and you will be shot to No. 19.
PLACE No 14&22 : You are selected to perform in the famous Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. Do your act as gracefully as possible.
PLACE No 15 : What a wonderful double drop you did! Back to No. 10, but you can throw extra,THROW DICE EXPLANATION
two times. Last throw counts for the exercise.
PLACE No 16&27 : Bad luck, you both broke one arm. Do your exercise with one arm each only.

PLACE No 20&37 : Do your exercise slapstick-wise – remember Charley Chaplin?
PLACE No 21 : You can climb the ladder to No. 24 – take care!
PLACE No 29 : Bad luck … again: one of you broke a leg and has to keep it straight all through the exercise.
PLACE No 31&43 : You just had a fight. Find your position, backs turned to each other.
PLACE No 35 : Disaster: fall down to No. 11.
PLACE No 45 : You won! You are now the prince/princess of the air, rich, beautiful and loved for ever….


These techniques will improve your teaching aerials and performing

Joe's System

Joe invented a way of teaching aerials by himself – and the result is amazing!


These people were involved

Isabel van Maele

Isabel van Maele

teacher Cirkus in Beweging multi and aerials

This is Isabel van Maele. Steady force, member of the educational team of Cirkus in Beweging and coordinator of the BIC training of Circuscentrum Vlaanderen. Specialized in multi circus and aerials, co-author of Circus in School.

Contact Isabel at:

Carina Pousaz

Carina Pousaz

youth circus trainer

This is Carina Pousaz; she is a performer, dancer and choreographer from Switzerland, based in Leuk, CH. She studied at the Conservatory for Contemporary Dance and worked for different companies. She toured with the company Zenzero and in 2013 she created with Jennifer Skolovski the company Digestif. Carina is teaching and choreographing the aerial parts of the École de cirque Shanju since 2012.

Contact Carina at

Carla Fontes Dias

Carla Fontes Dias

youth circus trainer

This is Carla Fontes Dias from Spain.

Contact Carla

Esteban Vin

Esteban Vin

Youth circus trainer and aerialist

This is Esteban Vin from Belgium – he is an ‘irrealist aerialist’. Works as a performer and as a aerial teacher in amongst others  Turn&Taxi (Brussels), Cirkus in Beweging (Leuven), Salto (Tienen), Circomedie (Charleroi) and also walks on stilts and clownery.
After a masterclass on height & safety, Esteban became a rigger.
He’s now learning iron works and hopefully in the near future will build his own aerial structures and modules.


Helena Skovierova

Helena Skovierova

Youth circus trainer

This is Helena Škovierova. She is one of the co-founders of the first youth circus school in Slovakia: CirKus-Kus. She is teaching circus for kids and youngsters (general circus and aerials), and  aerial classes for adults. She studied Puppet acting in University of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) and also works with different theatres and companies.

Contact Helena on More information on

Ilona Jääski

Ilona Jääski

Youth circus trainer

This is Ilona Jääski from Finland.

Contact Ilona at:

Isabelle Noel

Isabelle Noel

Youth Circus trainer

This is Isabelle Noel from Germany. She works for circus Harlekin in Freiburg.

Contact her at:

Joe Fearn

Joe Fearn

Youth Circus Trainer

Joe Fearn is the founder and director of CircusMASH in the UK. He has a strong passion for educational circus and developing circus arts within the region I currently live. I also work as a freelance choreographer and director for arts projects. Background includes performance, education and social circus in the UK and USA.

Contact Joe at:

More information on: 

Kriz Hoeylaerts

Kriz Hoeylaerts

Mime Clown

Kriz Hoeylaerts from Circus Locorondo in Belgium.

Contact Kriz at

Lizzl Shakti

Lizzl Shakti

Youth Circus trainer

This is Lizzl Shakti Winkelmann, originally from Holland, now working both there and in Belgium (Circo dell fuego in Antwerp). teaching aerials and general circus. Lizzl is also founder of Lizzl Spectaculaire Acts and performer in aerials (tissue, aerial hoop and trapeze and works with stilts (Amazonas, Batwoman &amp, B-Boy). Her background is besideds circus also gymnastics, dance and fitness.

Contact her at:

Marika Riggio

Marika Riggio

Youth Circus Trainer


This is Marika Riggio from Italy. She works for Collettivo di Bottega.

Contact Marika


Magali Simeone

Magali Simeone

Youth circus trainer

Magali Simeone works for the École de Cirque in Lausanne (Switzerland).

Contact Magali at:

Mandy Kempers

Mandy Kempers

Youth Circus trainer

This is Mandy Kemper, who works for Circuswerkplaats Boost and Circus Blixem in Amsterdam. Went to the pedagogical school in Montreal.

Contact her at:

Lynn Campbell

Lynn Campbell

Youth Circus Trainer

Lynn Campbell (Newcastle, UK) has over 10 years experience in teaching aerial. She ran projects for all sorts of people, as she is passionate about creating opportunities for people to hang and swing and fly: from pregnant women in cocoons to children with autism in harnesses making massive scale art (squeezing paint whilst swinging like a pendulum) and many more.

Her teaching is grounded in a teaching qualification, active birth yoga work and a MA in Movement Psychotherapy.

Contact Lynn at:


Marjolein Wagter

Marjolein Wagter

Youth circus trainer

Marjolein Wagter is a youth circus teacher with over 23 years of experience. She travels the world as an artist with Compagnie with Balls, and has delivered considerable input tot the CATE Handbook.
She is also designer and coordinator of the PEYC Masterclasses. 

Contact Marjolein at:

Sonni Ossapofsky

Sonni Ossapofsky

Youth Circus trainer

Sonni Ossapofsky (DE) started circus classes as a kid, and continued at an English circusschool to become a circus artist specialized in trapeze and tightwire. Travelled asperformer in different countries and locations, and started teaching circus to kids, youth, adults. Co-founder of  the Circus Akademie Berlin in 2009, where she teaches trapeze and tightwire in the full time course for circus teachers. She also teaches circus in public school during physical education hours, and in different youth circuses in Germany and abroad.

Contact Sonni at:

Talvi Janatuinen

Talvi Janatuinen

Youth Circus Trainer

Talvi Janatuinen is from Finland.

Contact Talvi at:

Valentina Caiano

Valentina Caiano

Youth circus trainer

Valentina Caiano works for Circo della Luna in Italy.

You can contact Valentina at:

Vicky Amedune

Vicky Amedune

Aerial trainer

Since 1997 Vicki has worked across all spheres of circus from large-scale touring to intimate and experimental performance. In 2006 Vicki founded Upswing, which is now one of the UK’s leading circus and aerial theatre companies creating innovative work, with a deeply embedded commitment to participation. An experimental company by nature, Upswing develops work through a process of participatory research periods, experimentation and playful encounters with audiences and creative accomplices using physical skill to explore themes of place, identity and our relationships with each other. We translate ideas using a circus language fused with text, dance and multimedia to create unique accessible multidisciplinary productions.
For the PEYC project she was main teacher of the aerial masterclass.

Contact Vicki at:

Yessica Balbas Labrador

Yessica Balbas Labrador

Youth Circus Trainer

Yessica Balbas Labrador works in Spain for MalabaraCirco.

Contact Yessica at:


Steven Desangere

Steven Desangere

Youth circus trainer

Steven Desanghere, also one of the main teachers at the aerial masterclass of the PEYC project (Belgium) has spent a lot of time in youth work and in a wide variety of community circus projects. He is fond of juggling and exploring the wonderful world of group dynamics. He tries to strike a balance between work and play, and between being a good citizen and being an activist for a greener and juster world. Steven likes to read, to listen, to learn, and to facilitate groups full of diversity. Inn June 2016 his book on social circus, Look at me!, will be published.

You can contact Steven at:


Useful reading material


kids and grown ups – what’s the difference

Physical safety


  • Beginning aerial fabric instructional manual, a step-by-step guide for teachers and students of aerial silks (Rebekah Leach, Fourth edition, 2011)
  • Intermediate aerial fabric, instructional manual part I, a step-by-step guide for teachers and students of aerial silks (Rebekah Leach, fourth edition, 2010)
  • Intermediate aerial fabric, instructional manual part II, a step-by-step guide for teachers and students of aerial silks (Rebekah Leach, fourth edition, 2011)
  • Méthodologie trapézoïdale, volume 1, pratique du trapèze solo fixe, Yvette Challande (imprimerie Gérard Challande , 2002)
  • Méthodologie trapézoïdale, volume 2, pratique du trapèze fixe à deux avec portés, Yvette Challande (imprimerie Gérard Challande , 2002)
  • Méthodologie de corde et Tissus, Yvette Challande, imprimerie Gérard Challande , 2005
  • Méthodologie de cerceau, Yvette Challande (imprimerie Gérard Challande, 2008)
  • Aerial circus training and safety manual, a guide for teachers and students, Carrier Heller (National Writers press, 2004)
  • Cate Handbook
  • Theater of the oppressed, Augusto Boal (Psychological Theorician, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, 1993)


  • Facebook: Safety in aerial arts
  • Our group: Let it Go!!

foto bij titelbar media v2

For participants

Only available for people who participated

For participants to enter the masterclass detailed information, click here: