AYCO is the hub for all things youth circus!
AYCO is a national nonprofit organization. Our mission is to promote the participation of youth in circus arts and support circus educators.
What is Youth Circus?
“Youth Circus” means kids, teens, and young adults who practice or perform circus arts. This includes young people who are learning circus skills at home, at a circus school, through an organization, at camp, school, college, or in a professional circus setting. There are about 10,000 youth that we know of doing circus all around the USA—and hundreds of thousands of others around the world with the numbers growing.
Here are some of the skills included in youth circus:
- Acrobatics—including tumbling, partner acrobatics, group pyramids, handstands, and hand balancing
- Aerial techniques such as fabric, trapeze, aerial hoop and corde lisse
- Object manipulation skills such as plate spinning, diabolo, devil sticks, poi spinning, hooping, and contact juggling
- Balancing skills such as rolling globe, rolla bolla, tightwire, unicycling and stilt walking
- German gym wheel, cyr wheel, teeterboard, and Chinese pole
- Acting, dance, and choreography
- Puppetry, street art, magic, parkour, and capoeira
- And more!
Circus arts can be performed with almost any type of equipment in any setting. Many people invent their own tricks using whatever they can find. Circus is a worldwide tradition and there are many different names for the same thing. If you are interested in learning about circus apparatus and terms, check out the World Circus Federation Terminology Database. It’s also a fun way to learn circus words in other languages.
Once upon a time eight circus innovators got together, put on clown noses, and decided to start an organization dedicated to promoting the participation of youth in circus arts and supporting circus educators. The rest is history.
Circus has a rich and inspiring history both in the USA and abroad. Everyone practicing circus today is encouraged to learn about the rich traditions that have paved the way for our present and future circus practices and creation. Check out this Short History of the Circus by Circopedia, a project of the Big Apple Circus.
Over the last 17 years, AYCO has learned about the power of circus arts to play an effective role in accelerating youth and community development. We call this work Social Circus. We define social circus as a social change intervention that uses the circus arts as a tool for fostering personal and social development of identified “at-risk” individuals. The primary goal of social circus is to help participants achieve personal and social development by nurturing their self-esteem and trust in others, teaching them social skills, inspiring them to become active citizens, and helping them to express their creativity and explore their potential. To learn more, check out the ACE website!
Circus is Good for You
- Promotes self-esteem
- Creates community
- Helps you do better in school
- Helps you stay fit and healthy
- Offers an opportunity for self expression
- Promotes a lifelong commitment to fitness and self-discipline
- Welcomes all types of individuals
- Encourages non-competitive and collaborative approaches
- Can provide a rewarding, exciting career opportunity
Interested in circus?
We would love for you to join our circus community!