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French students learn circus skills

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In the past, working in a circus meant that someone else in your family was probably a performer. That's how the skills were handed down. But now, the business is being treated more professionally. And one place that provides the training is The National Center of Circus Arts in France.

These young people are learning to become circus performers. Here students spend two years studying their chosen skills, such as tightrope walking, the trampoline, acrobatics, and springboard -- along with a healthy dose of drama and dance.

Jean-Franois Marguerin, director of National Center of Circus Arts, said, "Parents taught their children their performances, as a way to perpetuate the tradition. Of course, these performances would evolve from one generation to another. But it meant that this line of work was reserved for those who belonged to the circus circle."

Training in sports or something of that nature is a pre-requisite to arriving at this school.

Victoria Martinez, student from Mexico, said, "I'm in the process of mastering this. We have been working at the school for six months, maybe a little less, but it's hard to say when I started to master this (art) because I've been practicing sports since I was five years old."

Simon Nyiringabo's speciality is the Washington Trapeze. Having practiced this discipline for two years, he says the scariest thing is the height.

Simon Nyiringabo said, "Because the sensations are not the same at all, because it moves fast. You're quickly very high or you go back to the ground very quickly. "

Each year, after their three years of training at the National Center of Circus Arts, graduate students perform live in front of a Parisian audience. And this years' show "This is the end" was created by theatre director David Bobee.

He says working with circus performers is a challenge because their body language is very powerful.

David Bobee, director of "This Is The End", said, "They have a metaphoric power, it's really a language by itself and it's very exciting for a director. I'm more used to working with words, and here, the gestures are way more powerful than words."

Contemporary circus mixes traditional circus disciplines with arts such as drama and dance. And this school is at the forefront of nurturing such talents.


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