Circus Skills Uncovered

Phare Circus acrobat vaulted from teterboard

By Sunita Mager – Now, if you have ever seen one of our shows, then you know what amazing skills our circus performers have. It takes them years to train and master their skills at Phare Ponleu Selpak and they know and do them so well, that each skill deserves to be claimed as a art in itself.

Who is Doing What?

Many times, when we watch a show, we are amazed by what all the performers can do. “Look at the acrobat!” we might think, or is it a contortionist? As we sit there in anticipation we might not even have a clue what skills are performed or what it’s called that they are doing, and granted, most performers do all kinds of tricks to a small degree; but, they do have a main skill that they perfect. So if you are wondering what sorts of skill are performed at the Big Top, below are some common skills you will see in our shows.

Skills Training

In the world of circus, each skill has it own unique name and technique. Circus schools and instructors use various systems to group and teach circus skills by type. The most famous being the Hovey Burgess System in which these circus skills are divided into three categories, and each is subdivided into three skill levels:


The skill set of juggling  focuses on balancing objects such as toss juggling balls and rings or gyroscopic juggling devil sticks or a diabolo.


This skill set focuses on jumping; turning the body along its own axis.


The last skill set focuses on balancing skills such as rolling on objects or rigging on a slackware or balancing on a human column, doing handstands and acrobalancing.

One Skill All Performers MUST Lean

Phare simply wouldn’t be the heart-warming, energizing and authentic circus without the humor and emotions the performers express during each show.  The humor they act out and the drama and exaggerations are mostly non-verbal. We understand the way they communicate easily – but even though this seems as if it comes natural to them this too is maybe one of the most important skills every circus performer needs to master: Theatre and Improvisational Comedy.

Improvisational Comedy is an important skill for performers of all levels and disciplines. It trains every performers’ confidence, helps them look and feel natural on stage and enhances their act. In improv, the performers act without a script and learn how to troubleshoot and make up things on the fly. It especially comes in handy when there is a hiccup or slip up on stage. Often times these situations are covered up smoothly with a bit of improv and a huge smile.

Are you ready to discover your favorite circus skill? Book your next visit online here.


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