Green Fools inviting public to try circus skills for free

Public invited to try learning some new skills, and working on their cardio in a fun, non-competitve environment

Green Fools Theatre Society circus coach Skinny McLeod shows off one of his plate spinning, juggling, ball spinning, and hat balancing at the Green Fools circus school in Calgary on Monday, August 29, 2022. Green Fools has a pair of free open house nights on August 30 and 31, which promise fun and no-pressure ways to learn some basic circus skills like aerial, stilt walking, and juggling. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgarians wanting to learn to stilt walk, juggle, tight-rope walk, and even spin some non-metaphorical plates, will get the chance to do so for free this week.

The Green Fools Theatre Society is holding a pair of open house nights on Aug. 30 and 31, at their Studio G circus school at 7056G Farrell Road SE.

“It’s a very fun, unique thing to do that really gives people the opportunity to move around in a way that’s super fun, but also gets them a little bit exercise,” said Maggie MacKenzie, marketing coordinator for the Green Fools Theatre Society.

“What I love about circus is that it fosters this love of movement.”

The open houses are being offered to anyone six or older, by donation. MacKenzie said that anyone who has as interest in trying something new and different would be able to take away something from the classes.

“I was a classic theatre nerd growing up and I did not have any coordination, so if I can learn how to do circus things, anyone can,” MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie said that due to the pandemic, the circus school which was opened last year, hasn’t been able to hold any open houses. These two nights, she said, were the first ones the society were able to hold.

Kids between the ages of 6-12 will have their open house class between 5-5:45 pm. Teens 13 through 17 start at 6 pm and go to 6:45 pm. Adult classes start at 7 pm and go to 7:45 pm.

“It’ll be broken down by age group, just because developmentally we want to make sure that we’re teaching things that people are able to do,” said MacKenzie.

Registration for the open houses can be done online at greenfools.com.

Circus skills can be learnt by anyone

The Green Fools are also launching their fall classes

MacKenzie said that the introduction to circus skills gives people a structured way to approach doing things that look hard, but that can be learnt by anyone.

“It’s not necessarily like you’re gonna be flying trapeze in your first class,” she laughed.

“It’s really broken down into the steps to help people start that progression into learning about circus and the different things you can do.”

Skinny McLeod, one of the Green Fools instructors, said that although some circus skills take longer to master than others, everyone will be able to pick up at least something.

He said that something like unicycling takes on the order of 50 hours to truly master. Something like stilt-walking—one of the things taught at the open houses—takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

“Maybe even five for your more intuitive, but it’s just walking but you’re gonna balance a little differently,” said McLeod.

They’ve even had a 74-year-old student take up stilt-walking, said McLeod.

He said its exciting to see people trying circus for the first time, and then continuing on with it as a hobby and building different skills.

“I think it’s a lot like singing. A lot of people have the belief that you have to be a natural born singer, but it’s how many hours you put into it. That’s how we get hit those high notes, and whether you can do it or not.”

Circus a great way to foster sense of belonging for kids

Regular circus classes for children, teens, and adults begin mid-September and run until December.

McLeod said that the school has only been in operation for the past year. Still, they’ve had students coming to learn with the Green Fools for the past five.

“It is kind of really it’s very neat to me to see the kind of community it fosters, especially within the social circus area,” he said.

Over the past five-years, the society has worked with more than 14,000 children, including providing free classes to over 1,100. In the past year, they’ve worked with more than 300 at-risk youth through classes, camps, and programming. They have plans to further increase that capacity.

Green Fools instructor Erin Czypionka said that circus was a way of connecting kids across age ranges.

“It gives them a good sense of belonging to know like, ‘hey, I can see this person around in the community or at my school, and they can be years older than me, and we have this relationship,'” Czypionka said.

“It’s like, ‘hey, you do something that I do and we’re pretty cool.'”

It’s also a great way to build confidence in kids who need it.

“I say to all my students, no matter the age, that you just have to try it once and if you don’t like it you don’t have to do it again. And 100% of the time, they’ll try it and they’ll be like, ‘okay, that wasn’t that bad, I want to do it again,'” she said.

“Nothing is stopping you from having fun and learning something new.”

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