The National Centre for Circus Arts is a registered charity and one of the Europe’s leading providers of circus education. Based in a magnificent Victorian power station adjacent to Hoxton Square, we involve thousands of people in the creation and performance of circus arts every year. Over half of the annual income needed to run the National Centre comes from grants and donations. Our diverse range of work includes, BA Hons degree in Circus Arts, a structured progressive training programme for under the age 18 and professional development opportunities for aspiring and established performers. Adults and young people can take part in a range of recreational classes and we provide workshops and away days for the business community.
Our building is used for artistic development, rehearsal, youth circus and the staging of events. It’s based in Hoxton, five minutes from Old Street. Retaining the features and character of an imposing industrial space, the building began life as an electricity generating station in 1896. The site was rescued from dereliction in 1994 and, following extensive restoration and reconstruction, the building gained a new lease of life as a unique facility in the UK for circus arts. Scroll down to watch a video of our building and Hoxton in 1990, before we moved in as Circus Space.
The National Centre for Circus Arts accepts around 20-30 new students each year onto its two-year Foundation Degree in "Circus Arts" course. No academic requirements need to be met and admission is based purely on suitability and successful audition. Students undertake a training regime of 36 weeks per year. Upon finishing the course, students may then audition for a place on a final one-year course to achieve a BA (Hons) degree. Some students also go on to achieve a Postgraduate Certificate. The school's degrees are validated by the University of Kent. It also offers a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts - Circus Arts course in partnership with Hackney College. The Diploma in Performing Arts is run by Hackney Community College. It is a one-year, full-time course which gives insight into circus and the wider performing arts sector. As well as being a member of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, the National Centre for Circus Arts is also member of the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools (FEDEC).
The National Centre for Circus Arts plays a role in a number of national partnership initiatives. The Circus Training Action Group, or CTAG, is a partnership of four UK Circus Schools (The Circus Space, Circomedia, Greentop Circus and Skylight) developing quality standards and the qualifications for circus skills in the UK. The National Youth Circus Event, initiated in 2008 as part of the Young Peoples' Participatory Theatre project, was led by the National Centre (then The Circus Space) with partners including Albert and Friends Instant Circus and was hosted in 2009 by The Circus Space in London, in 2010 by Blackpool Youth Circus, and in 2011 by Greentop Circus and Swamp Circus Trust in Sheffield. Since 2011, the National Youth Circus Event has been hosted by the National Centre. This allows young people from across the UK who are interested in circus to use the world class facilities of the National Centre's multi-studio building in Hoxton and to see circus as a viable future profession for them. In 2013, the National Centre partnered with Gandini Juggling on their show 4 x 4 Ephemeral Architectures. The Gandinis embarked into new territory – pairing four ballet dancers with four jugglers – as part of a new commission by ROH Studio. As Sophie Rose, General Manager of Gandinis explained: “For the last decade, Gandini Juggling have often had a guest dancer; a solitary figure, a magician illuminating patterns, framing and wandering amongst traces. This piece will revisit the company’s frequent obsessions with grids/patterns and mathematics and will be informed with a hovering new found theatricality.” The National Centre for Circus Arts is a member of the Creative Industries Federation. In 2016, the National Centre was awarded an "outstanding" two star Creative Industry Green certification for its commitment to reducing its environmental impact by Julie's Bicycle.
National Centre alumni include stars of Cirque du Soleil, the Royal Shakespeare Company and actress Sadie Frost, who learnt flying trapeze. Theatre director Daniel Kramer, TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh and director Stephen Daldry have all trained at the organisation. Graduate company Circulus includes successful model and gentleman juggler Tom Gaskin, and film maker Remy Archer. National Centre graduate company Barely Methodical Troupe (BMT), founded by Beren D'Amico, Charlie Wheeller and Louis Gift, achieved critical success for their debut show Bromance. Their experimental acrobatic circus company fuses Hand-to-Hand and Cyr Wheel with a through line of creative dynamic movement. Influenced by their already existing skill sets (Parkour, Bboying, and Tricking), they have a fresh perspective on the creation of circus. This combination of technical ability with their stylish flow is the defining feature of the troupe. They won the 2014 Total Theatre Award for circus. Their next show, Kin, headlined CircusFest 2016 at the Roundhouse.