Monday, 19 December 2016

Chapter 167: Aircraft Circus - Greenwich Circus Festival

Photo: (click here)

Once upon a time I had pictures taken by boudoir photographer Stormy Sloane. Following her Instagram account from then on, I noticed one day a circus image that would fit a post I was writing at the time on The Snake Charmers (click here). That was in the days before I started writing about shows. When my blog was simply styled as "life through a circus lens" - a space to share random thoughts through a metaphor where anything is possible. The model in question was a circus performer called Kat, who coincidentally was appearing that week in show called Midnight's Circus (click here) at a theatre up in Highgate called Jacksons Lane, so Stormy and I went along with my husband Xav, and a couple of friends. Ah, it was a great evening, and that was how I encountered Aircraft Circus.

Aircraft Circus is based at The Hangar, on an industrial estate in Woolwich, and, as well as creating shows, it is a training school offering 15 and 16 week intensive full-time courses for artists, as well as recreational classes. It is one of those places that I've heard so much about but never visited, being a nightmare to get to from where I live. This weekend however their Greenwich Circus Festival coincided with Christmas lunch at old friends' down the road, and Sunday driving  outside of rush hour made it all the more accessible. 

It was funny to walk into a circus space where I knew literally no-one, but none the less welcoming for that, buzzing with that familiar festival vibe. My 8 year old and I arrived just in time for the All-Sorts family cabaret show, compered by a Christmas star of an elf. We both sat cross legged on the floor and watched fantastic displays from a mix of students and teachers, compered by the bright Christmas Star of an Elf, Emily. I was delighted to see Aircraft Director Moira in the air again after her sexy wildcat trapeze duet at Jacksons Lane (click here). It was announced that she had been out of action due to injury for a couple of years, so this really was a special occasion, and the performance gave me goosebumps. I also witnessed the most fluid of mermaids on hoop, the youngest aerial ninja on trapeze, a bowler-hatted Malcolm McDowell in a surprise descent from the ceiling on silks, and Moira's students, a duo of sisters executing feats of superb strength and flexibility with insouciant attitude on trapeze. Of course, my daughter's favourite was "the youngest act, Mum" who was so nimble and quick with her turns and her drops. 

Despite her appreciation of all things aerial, the workshop that interested my daughter most was acrobalance. She had a terrific time, despite Nik warning that it was used as a form of torture in medieval times. It certainly stretched her! Watching her with the younger ones, reminded me of how good she is with our littlest monkey, so I was not totally surprised when she said that while learning how to fly was cool, what she enjoyed most was being a base. The kids had lots of fun balancing on each other, and the activities culminated in a three-high human pyramid, that held for at least a second or two before they all collapsed in a tumble of giggles. Meanwhile I went along to the juggling workshop, learning a few neat tips to take home and practice, before we moved onto the inflatable slide downstairs. 

While we would have loved to stay on for the next "Movie Nights" performance, which I heard was excellent, we had to get back to one of our own, arriving just in time to curl up with the rest of the family on the sofa and catch Luke Skywalker's hand-balancing act on Dagobah, with the ever-vigilant Yoda. There you go, I thought, circus everywhere. 

For more information about the festival programme, split between day and evening passes, click here.

The evening included astounding alumnae acts, and the superb Midsummer Night's Circus with aerial, fire-eating, stilts and all-sorts. Check out @nzboyzabroad's (aka Rafiki character in previous chapter!) posts on Instagram and the hashtag #greenwichcircusfestival.

For more information about courses, parties and events run by Aircraft Circus visit

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