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who is socirc?
SoCirC is a Toronto/Tkaronto based, charitable non-profit organization, that uses a "social circus" approach, focused on social support, encouraging personal development, and creating an access to the play, physical activity and creativity of circus arts, for young people facing barriers, ages 14-29.
what we have been upto:
SoCirC has worked in partnership with several community-based agencies . Our community partners have included SKETCH:community arts programs for young people living on the margins, CCS Settlement Services for newcomer youth, The AGO's youth programs, MLSE Launchpad, and SOY (youth programs for queer and trans spectrum youth).
SoCirC has brought social circus intensive programs into secondary school curriculum into unique school settings including The Triangle Program (Canada's only LGTBQ2S+ high school), Oasis Alternative: Arts and Social Change Program, Heydon Park Secondary (credit and non-credit programs), Contact Alternative, Quest Collegiate & Addictions Recovery Program, Urban Indigenous Education Centre, The Aboriginal Education Centre, Central Tech Special Needs Program, ODSS Special Needs program.
SoCirC youth have performed at "Pedestrian Sunday's Kensington" street festival for the past 7 years, at various Pride events, at Montreal's La Tohu as part of CIRKASKINA, a national social circus event including 17 groups from across the country. SoCirC community youth group also created a full length show "Carnival of Life" performing at SoCirC anniversary event at Toronto's Collective Space.
-our primary goal is to foster social development and provide support, more specifically building the ability to trust oneself and others, communication skills, self esteem, teamwork, sense of belonging and community, improve body image, artistic expression, resiliency, risk management, perseverance, creativity. This is done by creating an inclusive safe space, integrating dialogue in circle, social support, trust exercises, social games, and through the diversity of circus arts (there is something for everyone!).
-we focus on process using performance opportunities simply as an opportunity to exercise creativity, to work together, build confidence, over come fears, create goals, have fun, build artistic voices, and interact and share stories with the larger community. Process is the focus and performances opportunities are provides as participants feel ready.
-programs are always free for participants
-we target young people 14-29, who face barriers to access or for various reasons, and can really benefit from this adaptive, inclusive, participant based program. Although circus is a natural fit for young kids, we think it is never too late for play, and our program is focused on continuing to play through our adolescence and adult years.
-trained social circus artist facilitators run the workshops incorporating participation from community workers, counselors, social workers, not only for social support when needed, but to create new links and relationships with participants building the trust required in crisis.
-participation is ALWAYS VOLUNTARY. Each individual is ready in their own time, physically or emotionally and we encourage participation in a variety of alternative ways
-Workshops are participant based and tailored to the specific needs and interests of each individual and group as a whole. We incorporate the artistic and physical skills and interests participants already have, meet them where they are at emotionally introducing them to new unique skills and forms of expression at their own pace. -we use a progression based learning style to allow for moments of success, to build self-confidence, and risk management skills
-we use the range of circus skills to reach the diversity of participants (from pyramid building, partner balancing, clowning, theater, dance, juggling, aerial, music or plate spinning )there is something for everyone and every skill set) and also include interactive social games, and trust and team building exercises. Participants are also invited in follow-up discussion and sharing in circle to reflect on their experience, and incorporate and share some of their own artistic and physical skills with the group, and the facilitators become the learners, and the participants the skill sharers. Since circus arts includes artistic expression, humour, as well as physical activity, social circus becomes a perfect tool to act as an entry point for participants to diversify their interests with some discovering their athleticism for the first time and others finding new outlets for creativity and self-expression. Social circus creates an opportunity for participants to find their niche and celebrate their diversity while being part of a united community working towards a larger goal. As such, our programs encourages autonomy as well as allows participants to experience a sense of belonging to a community.
what's in a name?
"Socirc" (pronounced sō-serk) is short for our original, and corporation name: "Social circus circle" . it comes from multiple meanings and associations with the word "CIRCLE":
Traditionally, circus was performed on a circular stage (or multiple circular stages - hence the expression "like a three ring circus".
Toronto's circus community emerged in the 1980s when performer, one of SoCirCs lead Social Circus facilitators and founder of the Ontario's first circus school, Marsha Kennington, began running recreational circus classes as part of the Harbourfront Centre Programs. Marsha always used the "Circus Circle" as a way to bring groups of children together.
The circle is an integral part of Social Circus, and all of our workshops begin and end with participants gathering in a circle. This provides a way for us to see and acknowledge each other in a space where no one is in front of or above anyone else. In a circle, we are equal and connected to one another and can share openly.
At SoCirC, we value the community of Social Circus Workers with whom we work to create our programming and also are proud to be part of a larger circle of circus performers and instructors
Our circle of community also encompasses the many other kinds physical, social and artistic youth programs present. These are programs within the non-profit sector, community centres, and schools with whom we try to partner with to share and create social projects.
Our program is focused on leadership development, which naturally has a cyclical nature as the student eventually can become a leader, and can sometimes even acquire the skills to become a teacher to their own instructors! We also recognize students can provide instructors important lessons during the workshop process. There is a circular flow of learning, and when instructors teach a certain set of skills to the youth, it is important to keep themselves open to learning from their students as their life experience infuses their practice of these new skills.