When you were a kid, did you ever swing on the low-hanging trapeze on your backyard jungle gym? Or clamor happily on the monkey bars at the local park? Maybe you dangled upside down by your legs for a long while and let the blood rush to your face, getting a kick out of the inverted view.
We tend to do those things as kids – the swinging and climbing and dangling upside down. But somewhere, as the years tick by, we stop. We tell ourselves we’re “too old” for that stuff.
But that is straight-up nonsense. We CAN swing from a trapeze and climb silks and do hand stands (we might just need some help learning the basics and getting our – ahem – more mature bodies used to the movements).
And The Sellam Circus School in Biddeford is just the place to learn.
The Sellam Circus School started in 2015 with a focus on kids circus camps around the state (no joke, they have a real big top circus tent, under which kids learn tumbling, juggling, aerials, unicycle, and more).
Last year, the school found a permanent home in Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill, where they offer a host of classes for kids and adults.
The Sellam Circus School was co-founded by Sellam El Ouahabi and Amity Stoddard. Sellam has worked in circus for nearly four decades, starting at the age of 13, when he got a professional touring contract with an acrobatic troupe from his home city of Tangier, Morocco. He’s been a performer (acrobatics, equestrian vaulting, human pyramids, hand balance, aerial straps, trapeze, the Wheel Of Death, aerial silks, among others) and coach. Amity – who trained as a competitive gymnast and dancer – began working in circus in 2003 and has worked at a collection of circuses in a variety of roles.
And while Sellam coaches circus artists who intended on performing professionally, the schedule of classes is geared toward folks like you and I who just want to learn something new and cool – and have a grand time in the process. No experience is necessary.
The spring session 2 just started on April 29 and ends on June 1 (you can still sign up!). The Sellam Circus School will be closed from June 2-23 for rigging inspections and equipment installation as they gear up for eight weeks of Summer Circus Arts Camp sessions and Adult Summer Circus Intensives. See the entire class schedule and descriptions at www.thesellamcircus.com/learn
Hand Balance 101
6-7:30 p.m. Mondays
The Hand Balance 101 course is our intensive workshop geared toward handstand and hand balance development for the beginner student. “Hollow body” is the building block of this course; you will build a strong core, coordination and control, and work toward ‘stacking’ (it’s cool, you’ll like it!) Participants in the Hand Balance 101 course will partner off and learn drills for rapid core strength-building. Bring your partner, best friend, or just yourself!
Aerial – Silks
6-7:30 p.m. Mondays
The Aerial – Silks course introduces basic techniques, strength and skill building for the Aerial Silks (also known as “Fabric” or “Tissu.”) This class is designed to facilitate a broad spectrum of abilities and allow each student to work at his or her own pace. The Aerial-Silks course will focus on building coordination, flexibility, and a strong core. In this class, you will develop confidence and stamina, and work to hone proper technique.
Aerial – Trapeze
6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Our Aerial – Trapeze course introduces basic techniques, strength and skill building for the static trapeze. This class is designed to facilitate a broad spectrum of abilities and allow each student to work at his or her own pace. The Aerial-Trapeze course will focus on building coordination, flexibility, and a strong core. With the ultimate goal to develop confidence and stage presence, this is a class you can really feel good about!
Acrobatics & Ground Skills
6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays
The Circus Tumbling & Acrobatics course focuses on the fundamentals of acrobatic performance in the circus. Students will learn traditional circus tumbling technique, and how it varies from the gymnastics style. We will build strength and flexibility while progressing in tumbling skill levels. Classes will focus on floor acrobatics, with some introduction to human pyramids, mini-trampoline and adagio. Class time alternates between full-group activities, and small-group skill building.
6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
In Partner Acro, we will continue to develop valuable skills in balance, strength, and proprioception. Class participants pair off and learn how to build trust and confidence as they explore ‘basing’ and ‘flying’. Human pyramids and adagio technique are key to the Partner Acro curriculum. Partner Acro technique often involves significant height from the ground, and use of a body harness is commonplace. This is a good class to increase your knowledge of safety-first in circus!
Aerial – Lyra
6-7:30 p.m. Thursdays
The Aerial – Lyra class introduces basic techniques, strength and skill building for the Aerial Hoop, or Lyra. This class is designed to facilitate a broad spectrum of abilities and allow each student to work at his or her own pace. The Aerial-Lyra course will focus on building coordination, flexibility, and a strong core. With the ultimate goal to develop fluidity of movement, smooth transitions, and a stage presence, Lyra is also a good apparatus for increasing flexibility in the shoulders and lower back.
The Sellam Circus School
40 Main Street, Bldg 13, Suite 135, Biddeford (Pepperell Mill)
Classes in circus arts – aerial silks, lyra, partner acro, hand balancing, and more for adults, as well as youth troupe and youth circus arts for kids ages 8-15.
The second spring session just started – you can still sign up!
See the entire class schedule and descriptions at www.thesellamcircus.com/learn
FMI: www.thesellamcircus.com and www.facebook.com/TheSellamCircusSchool/