Why Circus Works

The Vancouver Circus School aims to promote physical literacy through the circus arts. Circus skills are considered unparalleled in terms of variability, transferability, and fun, making them a great tool to develop long-term physical literacy. Physical literacy refers to the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to engage in physical activities for life, leading to lifetime benefits beyond physical fitness. Mastering fundamental movement skills and sport skills is key to physical literacy and long-term participation in physical activities and sports. A collaborative process led to the development of Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement, which defines four essential elements of physical literacy: motivation and confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding, and engagement in physical activities for life.

Circus training, along with gymnastics, teaches fundamental movement patterns and proprioception, making it the most transferable physical skill set with the most significant impact on general physical literacy. Circus covers most of the fundamental locomotor and body skills and is generally team-based and non-competitive. It has a focus on making the training fun and engaging, leading to increased motivation and confidence. Circus has many sub-specialties, allowing every child to excel above and beyond their peers in some aspect of the circus arts.

In the end, circus has as many potential sub-categories as there are participants, making each student’s physical literacy education unique despite being grounded in the most fundamental physical movements of the human body. Physical competence leads to confidence, and with confidence comes an increasingly powerful motivation and engagement. Through this process, physical literacy grows and lays the foundation of a lifetime of physical participation and health. Physical literacy is not just about sports but about giving children, youth, and adults the opportunity to succeed and live a happy, healthy, and long life.