Blue Hanley is a tutor with Galway Community Circus. She is 21 and from Galway. She is a NUI Galway student of Irish, Psychology and Theatre, who works as circus tutor, performer, theatre front of house staff, scholar and general circusser. Often appears in random countries. Drinker of tea, reader of books, doer of things
I’ve always had an interest, verging on obsession with performing and circus in particular. I joined a parade group in 2006 and started stilt walking in 2007 when I was 15. Stilting has since been my circus form of choice. I joined Galway Community Circus the following year and have been involved since 2008. The upper age limit changed a few times over recent years, which extended my “youth” membership until last August, when I turned 21. I then left the circus for five months while I studied abroad.
I was integrated into teaching so slowly that I’m not really sure when it started initially. My college was situated quite close to the circus location, so it was easy for me to cover a class here and there. I was given a lot of opportunities to teach a broad range of different groups, including; different age groups, facilitating outreach programs in schools and delivering open workshops at fairs and festivals.
Through the Tutor-Training plan our circus has in place, I became a teaching assistant for a class that suited my college schedule. I then started assisting in the stilt walking class. I feel a strong responsibility toward that class now, even though we have so many people involved with it. It takes a lot of effort to coordinate and run it properly; taping people in, walking them through their first steps, while keeping an eye on everything else. Sometimes we take walks outside and then especially, we really need everyone for that to run smoothly.
I can’t describe the feeling of teaching someone something you love. I enjoy sharing the skill and showing it off, witnessing the look that people have when they take their first step on their own. I like to encourage people towards my favourite skill by telling them how much it changed my life, the benefits and opportunities that it grants me. Also, while I volunteer as a teacher in the circus, I do get paid to teach classes outside of the circus. My teaching experience has been pretty invaluable to me thus far and circus accounts for a lot of my work experience.
Being in circus means a lot to me because, clichéd as it sounds, it’s really like belonging to a very welcoming family. You’re always being pushed to try your hardest and be the best you can be. It’s opened up a world of opportunity for me, in terms of work, travel, meeting people and seeing other people do amazing things. I feel like all the people I know in circus are always encouraging me to do what I’m passionate about and what makes me happy. I feel like they take an interest in everything that I do, including an interest in me as a person, my college studies and theatre work, as well as the work that I do in circus.
Galway Community Circus
Ulla Hokkanen is 32 and lives in Galway. She is Circus Director at Galway Community Circus and currently holds the position of Chairperson of the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network. She has a BA (Hons) in Social Science and is originally from Finland where her love of youth circus started twenty years ago.