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Stars of the future swing into action

Andy Irvine, Commonwealth Youth Circus performer

Part of the Culture 2014 programme, the Commonwealth Youth Circus (CYC) captured the spirit of the Games, bringing together young people across Scotland and the world.

The CYC brought to life high-octane and spectacular contemporary circus as performer Andy Irvine explains:

After successfully auditioning for the CYC, I was quickly launched into a three month training programme with the 17 other performers where we all did a bit of everything, including juggling, acrobatics and aerial performance.

Once we had strengthened our skills across a range of disciplines, we then picked a speciality for intensive development. I chose a mixture of parkour and acrostaff, which involves performing acrobatic tricks balanced on the end of a specially weighted pole that can support my bodyweight.

We then went on tour with the Queen’s Baton Relay. During this time I also acted as stage manager for the production and taught circus skills at beginners’ workshops, gaining valuable experience in organisation and communication. In addition to this, I represented the West of Scotland at the National Youth Circus Forum in Ireland, where I was given the chance to network with people from all over the UK and Europe.

As well as enabling us to refine our skills with the aid of top international tutors, the CYC also trained us in how to develop and choreograph material for our own personal act so that we can go on to create our own performances. We were even trained in administerial requirements such as invoicing and insurance for this purpose.  

I also found the fitness aspect of the programme incredibly valuable – I definitely gained a better understanding of my body, learning how to prevent and manage any injuries, and was encouraged to revise my diet and improve my nutrition.

Joining the Commonwealth Youth Circus was one of the best things I have ever done, and I believe anyone who is given the chance to learn circus skills should get involved. I continue to work with partnership company Bright Night International, and look forward to putting the skills I have learned at CYC into further use with other projects in the future.

Find out more about the Commonwealth Youth Circus

All the young people involved with CYC were really committed and all the performers intend to continue training in Circus skills in the future. Performer David Ullrich has started the next stage of his professional training at Circus School in Denmark, having successfully auditioned for a place in a competitive environment; Laura Harrison and Sean Smyth are about to begin one year placements with a Belgian partner organisation, Circus Planeet; Cory Johnson and Cathi Sell have formed a professional partner acrobatic duo, Dead Flexi, and are performing professionally across Scotland; and Iain Macdonald, Cathi Sell and Conor Mcilraith will appear in Pulse, Bright Night's next project with North Edinburgh Arts.