Brazil Circus Holiday 2018: Final Thoughts

For the past 3 years, Circocan International School of Circus and Aerial Edge have teamed up to offer circus students and professionals from across the UK and Europe to come to Brazil for 3 weeks intensive circus training. Let’s hear what this year’s students have to say about the trip!

Amy’s Thoughts:One of my favourite things about visiting other circus schools is that I can walk into the space to train and not be at work. I can happily swing on trapeze bars without worrying about whether they need re-taped or not. It’s bliss! But my love for the Brazil Circus Holiday goes beyond achieving a bit of escapism and a tan once a year, for me it’s an amazing opportunity for personal development with the time and space to train intensively and progress in a number of different areas.

From the beginning of our collaboration with Circocan, I’ve found that although it is technically ‘a holiday’, the experience has turned out to be so much more transformational. From some members of the first group we took who went on to professional performance contracts, to more than half of last year’s group now attending Circocan’s full time course, this trip is an ideal opportunity for those looking to take their skills to the next level.

Personally, I’ve also grown a lot through this experience. I’ve always been fond of travel and adventure, so travelling independently was never an issue for me but being immersed in a country where I didn’t speak any of the language was a big culture shock the first time I arrived in Brazil in 2015. Luckily at that point I had 3 months to get to grips with the place, so I decided to conquer the overwhelm and jump feet first into Portuguese lessons alongside my circus training.

Whether you are learning a physical skill like circus, or an academic one like a language, I  find that the process of learning itself is both a fascinating and revealing one. You not only get to learn a new skill but you can also learn a lot about yourself in the process. You find your own frustration points, the points where you want to give up and walk away, and (hopefully!) the rewards on the other side when you push through these moments. My best friend loves to tease me about the tearful phone call she received from me on New Year’s Eve 2015 because I was feeling overwhelmed and sick at a party in Brazil: out of my depth surrounded by a unknown language and frustrated that I wasn’t yet fluent in Portuguese (after only two weeks of classes!). Looking back on this moment and contrasting it with how comfortable I feel there now I laugh at how ridiculous this seems, but at the time the angst was real!

I think as adults, we don’t spend enough time learning new skills, there’s so much pressure to climb the career ladder that we often end up specialising instead of diversifying our skills, sticking to our comfort zones or what we already know or know we are good at. This is one of the reasons why I love my job! I get to meet people of all ages every day who have plucked up the courage to try their first circus class, sometimes conquering a lifetime of fears or self doubt even just to get to the point when they have arrived at our door. We get to a be a big part of people’s self development which is what the group’s testaments from this Brazil trip I’ve included below should show.

One of my biggest lessons from my time at Circocan is that it’s really important to remember how hard it can be when you’re starting a new skill. It’s easy to encourage others but harder to remember to cheer yourself on as much as you would your classmates when they’re struggling. Don’t compare yourself to others’s progress in the same skill. They have bodies and minds that have lived through experiences that will make it harder or easier to reach the same goal as you. Remind yourself that even when you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall trying to achieve a certain trick on trapeze, or it feels like you’re never going to manage the splits, if you put the time in and keep trying you will eventually get there.

Anna’s Thoughts: On arrival at Florianopolis airport I honestly thought I had made such a huge mistake in going on the holiday. I thought I would be back at the airport the next day flying back home! I had never travelled that far, or alone.

Brazil was a big culture shock, things are totally different to Glasgow. After having a panic on day 1 and being calmed by our wonderful Amy I promised her I would try 1 week before going home. Looking on it now I can see that even achieving that was a massive step in my independence than I never saw happening in the future.

One of the scariest things was cycling to Circocan, it seems silly but I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 10/11 years. I was worried about being in the road, having to cross traffic and the energy that cycling used. On the first cycling trip I nearly burst into tears several times.

Everyone I came into contact with was lovely and very helpful, I soon felt completely comfortable being out and in the community. Adjusting to ‘Brazil time’ (everything happens at least 20 minutes later than planned there!) for someone who is always 30 minutes early was tough, but the more relaxed way of life definitely has its benefits.

The classes at Circocan were great! I was worried initially about being the least fit person there, but again everyone is so welcoming and kind, as long as you are trying that’s all you can do. I was creating sweat angels all over the mats but I didn’t care because so was everyone else. The first swing in the first fly class I came straight off the bar and felt completely useless. I wanted to walk away at that moment and quit, but something in my head fought like hell and I stayed. It felt amazing to win the battle of my head, I would have previously walked away and beaten myself for it.

I haven’t become super strong or anything like that from this trip but I’ve gained so much personally. My confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, I feel much more sure of myself and able to win the battles in my own head going forward. Breaking things down into small steps during this trip has helped stop me from over processing or panicking, and achieving something each day, even if it was the smallest action it kept me going.

The trip for me has felt like a complete life change, it was exactly what I needed. I smile when I think to myself I’ve been to Brazil for 3 weeks, I lived and trained and met new people.  Training at Circocan showed me I was capable of so much more than I had thought. I never thought this trip would happen, I never thought I would fall in love with life there.

Thank you to Circocan for having us and the other guys with me on the trip for making it so memorable.


Brendan’s Thoughts: Travelling to Brazil was my first ever solo trip. This was a little scary but after the first flight was fine. My advice for anyone considering this is: give your self plenty of time in Sao Paulo! I nearly missed the last flight of the day due to confusion over airport busses there!

I realised after a few training sessions I really need to add more conditioning into my schedule. After completing the three weeks I have noticed that my arm strength is a lot better and I came back looking slimmer as well. Was lovely to get lots of compliments off of everyone.

The island itself was lovely I really enjoyed exploring some of the different activities including Kayaking, Sand Surfing and Horseback treks across the beach and through pine forests.

This trip meant a lot to me as it proved I could go and travel on my own. I would recommend this to anyone at any level as it a great balance of holiday and training. Plus I got to fly on an outdoor rig so there is always that.

Gavin’s Thoughts: The city had come to a standstill. Shelves in shops were bare and people were barricaded in their houses as the snow buffeted them. I lay on my hammock in the sun, so happy I chose to go to Brazil and miss the snowstorm in Glasgow.

The entire experience at Circocan was amazing. The instructors and students were so welcoming and friendly. There were plenty of classes to choose from but there was no pressure to attend them. When aching from training we could instead do island holiday activities like horse riding, eating, Portuguese lessons, scuba diving, kayaking, eating, beach hopping, hiking, eating, sand boarding etc. The classes over there are quite intense, I heard flex class is one of the punishments in the third circle of hell, but it felt great getting stronger and fitter.

The heat was a stumbling block for me, it was not rare to see people slip in a puddle of their own sweat during class, but it was a good experience to train in a different environment. It definitely increased my confidence. If I can complete a full two-hour circus fitness class in that heat then I can do a class anywhere.

I would thoroughly recommend this trip. It’s a great opportunity to try new skills, meet lovely people and challenge yourself. It was an amazing three weeks and have found myself being that dreadful guy that says ‘that reminds me about this time in brazil’ in every conversation I have now.

Thank you so much to Aerial Edge and Circocan for the great experience!


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