Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Final Installment of eclipseArts Circus A-Z

Night shifts.  We often have to work overnight, usually outside clubs spinning fire whilst people wittily shout, ‘YOU’RE ON FIRE!’ at us again and again and again. 

Original props.  The most recent prop we have invented is the fire ribbon.  It’s a piece of wick, two and a half metres long, based on a Chinese ribbon.  No one has been brave enough to light it yet but when we do we will post footage here, assuming we survive the experience.  

Passing.  Passing involves throwing juggling props between two or more people, whilst maintaining a pattern.  You can attempt passing: balls; rings; clubs; poi; hula-hoops; sandwiches; kittens. Balls are easy, hula-hoops are hard.

Quarter-pole.  A quarter-pole is a circus tent pole, the intermediate pole between central pole and side polls, used in massive big tops like what we don’t own or need.  YOU try coming up with a word that begins with ‘q’ though! 

Ropes (Corde Lisse if you’re feeling fancy).  If you can manage to haul yourself up a rope, you can make pretty shapes while you’re up there, or at least our colleague Kris can and will (if you pay him).

Silks.  Also an aerial skill, apparently a bit harder on the muscles than ropes are, although performed well silks are so graceful you’d be forgiven for thinking it looks easy.  Kris can do this too and he will (if you pay him).

Tight-wire.  We have a free standing tight-wire.  I have seen several small girls who know how to walk a gymnastic beam experience immediate success; I like to think they leave our workshops and head straight to the Grand Canyon, armed with nothing but raw ambition and ballet pumps.  It is far more common to fall off before managing even one step though - humbling and exhilarating simultaneously.   

Unicycles.  We have recently invested in a giraffe unicycle.  That means it’s taller than I am!  (I’m 5’6 and it must have an inch or two on me).

Velcro.  Velcro is the answer to fast paced costume changes if you are performing, sweetie-dahlings.

Xciting xperiences xspecially for you!  Xceptional, xilirating xcapades.  (I’m so, so sorry.)  

Yoga: great for strength; great for flexibility; perfect circus conditioning.

Zoology.  Is it cruel or is it cool to use animals in the circus?  Should we train our chickens?  We don’t use any animals but Laura does occasionally dress up as a stilt-walking cheetah.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

eclipseArts Circus H - M

Hula vs hoop.

If you ask Laura to show you some hula she will become slightly irritable and say, ‘it’s called HOOP.’ Other hoopers are fixated on the difference between circus hoop and dance hoop… the hooping community is strange and their linguistic foibles are impenetrable to the uninitiated. Try not to start a hooper chatting about it unless you have an hour or two to spare.

‘I can do it!’ 

this is what people shout in the millisecond between getting a trick right for the first time and then dropping all of their props due to being overwhelmed with excitement.


We work with some amazing medieval clowns. If men in tights are your bag we can find you the best unicycling, fire spinning, tumbling entertainers. They’re guaranteed to rock your court.

Kick ups.

If you perform, you need to learn kick-ups. You can kick up clubs, balls, hula hoops… so when you drop (and you will) you can employ the nifty looking kick-up and continue with your routine. Hopefully your audience will think, ‘wow that trick looked amazing!’ and forget you ever dropped.


Often when we start teaching people how to do things they’re frustrated when they don’t get it straight away, but we think this is one of the beauties of circus skills. No one can naturally juggle, everyone has to put effort into learning, so in a way circus is a great equaliser.


Because you probably won't learn to contort yourself through a tennis racquet without it.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A - G

So here we are with the first installment of the eagerly awaited (by my Mum)
eclipseArts Circus A -Z...

Alien Puppets.  eclipseArts are so called because of an eclipse scene in Tom’s UV alien puppet show, created in the long long ago, before LEDs.   Tom created ‘life size’ alien puppets and various members of the eclipseArts collective operated puppets or manipulated toys around them.  (I'll get some pics up soon.)

Bob Fossett.  One of Tom’s first juggling jobs was with Bob Fossett’s Circus.  For generations the Focett’s firstborn sons have been called ‘Robert’ to save the expense and effort of repainting their regalia.  The Bobs could do fun things like performing the splits on tight-ropes.  Cor!

Circus Parties and Circus Workshops.  Our bread and butter; often for kids.  We can teach and perform loads of stuff - juggling, poi, diabolo, hulahoop, flower sticks, plate-spinning, feather balancing, stilts, unicycle, tight-rope, staff and acrobalance.

Dog show!  My first real stage performance was at Cricklade Dog Show to about 12 people and also some ferrets.  I was terrified and got cramp in my foot whilst hooping on it, but thankfully I didn’t drop. Tom, however, has juggled all over…

…Europe.  Spain, Turkey, Prague, the giddy heights of Wales... the highlight of his career, however, was the dogshow; he preferred this even to working with the Chinese State Circus.  The Chinese State Circus didn’t have ferrets.

Fire!   Our fire shows could include poi, juggling clubs, hulahoop, staff, skipping ropes, a spot of acrobalance and a backflip or two.   We’re thinking about creating some original props too so watch this space…

Glastonbury.  Main stage!  Tom’s first  juggling job, working with Spectral FX.  He took the alien puppet show there a few times too.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Welcome to the first eclipseArts blog entry.

Although eclipseArts have been in the biz for fifteen years, it’s never occurred to us to write a blog before.   I mean, computers, what’s the point?  Can you spin them round your hips, throw them, set fire to them, balance on them?*  No?  Then excuse me while I go back outside with my hulahoop.

However, luddite ideals aside, the net does provide a wealth of teaching resources, online shops, friendly communities and inspirational footage to excite the imagination of any aspiring circus freak.  So we concede and here we are, arriving at the party fashionably late.

The next couple of entries will give you some idea of who we are and what we’ve been up to for the last fifteen years in an ‘A-Z of eclipseArts’.  We’ll start with Alien Puppets and finish with Zacariah Richards, the man who persuaded us to stop fearing technology.  

(* You can probably attempt all four but it would be ill-advised.  Although I wonder… juggling laptops… interesting.)