Circus in Brazil
In December I had the privilege to spend some time in Brazil living and training with Circocan, a circus school based in Curitiba and Florianopolis. While I was there I trained, taught, rigged and performed as part of the school while living in a beach-front chalet 20 metres from the sea.
In 2012 while training in New York I met Pedro Mello E Cruz, the CEO of Circocan who encouraged me to come and visit Brazil and get a look at the growing circus scene there.
Pedro has been training in circus since 2004 where he started as part of the Circocan youth circus in Curitiba at the start of Circocan in southern Brazil and is now a flying trapeze teacher with skills in many other disciplines.
His infectious enthusiasm and energy made me think this would be a really good idea, both for me personally as well as for Aerial Edge.
By December 2013 I was really looking forward to visiting a part of the world that was completely new to me, and after only two or three facebook chats we had everything arranged.
Never having been to South America and with no clear idea of where I’d be staying or where I was heading I landed in Florianopolis airport, 22 hours after leaving home, feeling slightly disheveled and was picked up by two of Circocan’s teachers Luiza Santini and Letycia Vitoria.
Luiza and Letycia did a great job of looking after me during my stay, introducing me to Brazil and teaching me how to survive there. English is not widely spoken locally so I did need some help to get me started. I didn’t do a great job at learning the language this time as I made more time for training and teaching than for studying.
The school in Florianopolis is at the Jurere International Sports Centre where there is equipment set up for static trapeze, silks, hoop as well as gymnastics. The core Cirocan classes are their CircoFitness classes which are designed to improve the strength and fitness of the students and give a good starting point for people as they join the school.
I really enjoyed these classes and while quite punishing they drastically improved my fitness in the short time I was here. They provided a good mix of acrobatic and aerial fitness exercises and a good skill base for people who wanted to go on to learn other circus arts.
Circocan also runs kids gymnastic classes most days of the week and on my first weekend I joined the gymnastic team on a trip to Blumenau for a regional competition, which was a good way to get interrogated by tiny English language students as a bonus part of the trip.
Flying trapeze is one of the main arts practiced in the Florinopolis branch of the school with classes held outdoors in the sun. Training in the sun took a lot of getting used to (sunburn!) but it was with the effort with stunning views from the platform.
Florianopolis is a holiday island which has a large influx of visitors from Christmas onwards, when I arrived the beeches and streets where deserted but after Christmas and into January they became very packed with holiday makers. Juice and cocktail stalls were being set up on the beaches and the hotels and apartments were filling up with cars everywhere. In contrast to other parts of Brazil there is a lot of private security in Florianopolis to enhance local law enforcement to ensure the island remains a safe and popular holiday resort.
Pedro is a great ambassador for Circocan and invites many circus teachers and performers to visit the school so during my stay I met and trained with some wonderful visiting artists and teachers, who work both nationally and internationally including some Cirque du Soleil cast members. This is a video of Jan Petrovic (Saltimbanco, House of Dancing Water) at one of his first attempts at flying trapeze since 2005 when he trained with Gino Farfan in Japan for a Cirque Du Soleil show.
This photo was of all the guys training in straps coincidently finding themselves in Florianopolis at the same time over Christmas. Jan Petrovic (Slovakia), Carlos Sugawara (Sao Paolo, Brazil), Pedro Cruz (Diretor of Circocan), Leo Abel (Brazil) & Mark Gibson (Scotland)
Living on the beach meant both easy access to the sea as well as easy access to some lovely Brazilian cocktails, although I did become quite proficient at making my own Caipirinhas due to some very willing local teachers. My chalet as you may be able to see below was used for costume storage and guest visitors but mainly as a good site for some parties!
I was also introduced to the art of the Brazilian barbecue which puts the British barbecue to shame, many of which were cooked by some very experienced chefs right on my veranda in my very own barbecue pit!
During the time I was here i found myself in a very positive environment which encouraged hard training and clean eating. Along with the circus training Pedro got me running for the first time in 25 years with a couple of 3-5k runs each week incorporating other calisthenics using pull up and dip bars which were installed in our regular running routes, this is something I’ve maintained since I’ve returned home, although the climate in Glasgow makes it a very different experience.
I found the time I spent with Pedro and his team inspiring both as a teacher and performer as well as for someone who runs a school. I enjoyed teaching trapeze to people who soaked it up like a sponge, I also enjoyed being a part of the team breaking new ground, creating shows and working with and meeting some amazing people.
The students were very welcoming and willing to try out their English, ranging from beginner to expert and made me feel at home. This picture was not from a typical welcome party but the Circocan Floripa branch two year birthday celebration party, and I have to say that acrobatics, cocktails and a swimming pool are a great combination!
The last part of this article is a video interview with Pedro, unfortunately I recorded it just shortly before I left on a particularly windy day, which means some of it can be a little hard to hear. However I think the content is worth a watch, apologies for the audio quality.
I’ll write more about my trip, Circocan and on the circus performances in Brazil soon. I’ll also write a little on some of the teachers and artists I’ve been working with.
Thank to everyone who made the trip a success although there were far too many to mention in person.
But just to say I’ve started to study Portuguese now in preparation for my next visit!