Graceful, tough, acrobatic: In circus you can be anything you want to be

Graceful, tough, acrobatic: In circus you can be anything you want to be

Florian Veenendaal fire breathing in front of the Vasim in Nijmegen

As I walk towards an abandoned industrial building called The Vasim in Nijmegen, I hear the drills and sounds of builders transforming the place. I enter the building and walk down the cold, dark, and a little creepy hallway until I reach a small, red door with the words ‘circus space’ above it. As I open the door I am entering a new world. I am seeing a colourful room with high ceilings and aerial silks hanging down. One silk is blue, the other is yellow. I see Yvon Holman warming up. I watch how she gracefully climbs up the silk until she is high enough to hang upside down and to do a split in the air. Suddenly I understand the world of Yvon: climbing up the soft silk to fly in the air. I am intrigued and want to know more about the Vasim, so where did it all start? 

According to the entertainment specialist Dominique Jando, Philip Astley invented the modern circus in 1770. Astley’s success as a performer had surpassed his reputation as a horse trainer. He needed to add some variety to his performances. As a result, he engaged acrobats, rope dancers,  jugglers, and clowns to perform alongside his equestrian performances. The modern circus was born. The Vasim circus space Nijmegen is currently renovating into a cultural center. Yvon is an aerial acrobat since four years and part of the circus community. Thanks to Astley, the circus is what it is today.

Every Thursday night, the circus space offers open training to newcomers like Lara or to acrobats like Yvon. Everyone can do what they like best: from juggling to aerial silk and everything in between. I meet Lara at one of these open trainings on a Thursday night. Florian Veenendaal, a member of the circus community, teaches Lara and me how to juggle and lends us his juggling balls to practice with. Together, we experience the warmth of the community.

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