Kids Swap Streets for Circus
The model of a circus was chosen because it is often a ‘hooligan’s dream’ and provides thrills for the children.
Published: September 12, 2012 (Issue # 1726)
Larisa Afanasyeva, head of the Upsala Circus, which helps children from social risk groups to become circus performers.
The city’s Upsala Circus charity organization will hold the 5th Flying Children festival in St. Petersburg this weekend.
Upsala Circus is a real circus for children from social risk groups that offers them an alternative to life on the streets and gradually helps them to become polished circus performers. The children learn acrobatics, juggling, modern dance and mime and combine all these skills in performances.
The Flying Children festival features circus acts, music, theater and art accessible to children of all ages and abilities.
This year, the program includes performances by circus troupes from Switzerland, Finland and Brazil, as well as master classes, food and entertainment.
The festival will take place in and around the circus’s new big top, which Upsala Circus was recently able to purchase after raising funds all over the world.
Between the trees around the big top, fabric canvases will be stretched to create a so-called Photo Forest, featuring photo-portraits of Cirque du Soleil performers taken by the St. Petersburg photographer and artist Yury Molodkovets.
Master classes to be held non-stop next to the big top will allow visitors to try their hand at juggling, riding a unicycle, doing tricks and bouncing on a real circus trampoline. This year, the master classes will be given not only by performers of Upsala Circus but also by members of Finnish and Swiss troupes.
In the active entertainment zone, both children and adults can try jumpers, kites, petanque and zorbing, in which participants ride in a huge transparent ball on the surface of a lake.
Visitors will also have the chance to paint porcelain during master classes by the city’s Imperial Porcelain Factory, as well as create cartoons and listen to unusual fairy tales.
Larisa Afanasyeva, head of Upsala Circus, said that this year the organization expects up to 5,000 visitors to visit the festival.
About 70 street kids aged from six to 20 years old are currently learning circus skills with Upsala Circus.
Afanasyeva said that during the 12 years of the circus’s existence, about 200 children have taken part in the program.
“Our circus is like a small house that gives a big opportunity to some of its residents,” Afanasyeva said.
Enrollment into the circus takes place once every three years, when the organizers take their circus equipment around various social institutions for children in the city. They often take along performers whom they have found by chance in the past to inspire their audiences.
Afanasyeva explained that the model of a circus was chosen to help children from social risk groups because it is often “a hooligan’s dream” with a romantic image, and provides the “aspect of the extreme that teenagers look for.”
“And of course it’s not boring in our circus, and that is of vital significance for children,” she said.
The Flying Children festival will be held from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 15 and 16 in the park of the Benua (Benois) business center, 44 Sverdlovskaya Naberezhnaya. A free bus will run to the site from Finlyandsky railway station (Ploshchad Lenina metro station). For more information,