Students fly high as college offers cirque aerial classes

St Margaret's College has become the first school in Australasia to offer cirque aerial classes....
St Margaret's College has become the first school in Australasia to offer cirque aerial classes. Photo: Petra Migneau
A Christchurch girls' college is breaking new ground as the first school in Australasia to offer cirque aerial classes.

Launching for the first time this year, St Margaret’s College is providing the classes through their Theatre Dance Academy and they are open to the wider community, not just students.

New Zealand cirque master Danny Lee Syme joins the programme, helping others learn the ropes of aerial trapeze, silks, lyra and aerial strength techniques.

TDA director Alison Rossiter said interest in the classes was already picking up, with spaces filling up fast.

Being a “triple threat” was typical in the performing arts industry, but these days, employers were looking for more.

“It’s super exciting, I think we’re in a blessed position to have the facilities to offer something unique,” she said.

“With the way the world’s going in the industry, you need extra tricks now.”

The school’s dance studio was rebuilt following the Canterbury earthquakes. The new design featured the engineered rigging required for equipment to suspend from the ceiling.

They wanted to create a versatile space for students to perform and train in, having the capacity to learn the necessary skills needed to thrive professionally beyond SMC.

Photo: Petra Migneau
Photo: Petra Migneau
Some classes will be part of the NCEA dance curriculum, where students can earn marks towards their studies – a point of difference compared to other existing circus studios.

The school’s Theatre Dance Academy syllabus already includes open mixed classes, taking in students aged from early childhood right through to adults.

Here they will learn the art of American jazz, ballet, contemporary dance, hip hop, musical theatre and Latino dance.

It was an opportunity for students who wanted to increase their strength and fitness, try something new, or add an industry performance dimension to their dance skills.

Through examinations and training, the programme can often lead to pathways in the entertainment industry as students leave with an internationally recognised qualification.

With aerial training, career prospects included the circus field, commercial dance and performance, theatre or as a stunt performer.

“It’s fun and a chance to work with a different skill set. It’s also really positive, good for mindfulness and overcoming challenges,” said Rossiter.

The academy will be hosting an aerial open day next Wednesday, free of charge, and is for all ages.

• More information can be found here.








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