Fourteen members of Asby WI and a guest were a little apprehensive and unsure about what to expect when they arrived at the village hall for a meeting entitled ‘Circus Skills’. But there was no cause to worry for, guest speaker Rosie Kelly, had everything under control and there was definitely no sign of a trapeze!
An enthusiastic presenter, she began her talk by explaining that she was an Applebian and had taken part in circus activities since the age of eleven. She had worked in modern circuses but now concentrated on talking to community groups and introducing young people to circus skills. She gave a brief history of the circus which was founded in the north of England by Philip Astley in 1768 using his military-achieved personal expertise on horses. Initially circuses were performed indoors in any round buildings that could accommodate the size of ring defined by Philip as the one in which horses were most comfortable to be controlled. However, when the circus reached the United States there were no suitable buildings so, of necessity, the Big Top tent came into being.
The circus was very successful in Europe and is still good today in Russia, France and Italy. Circus in China is rather different and acts there are rarely varied. Unfortunately the combination of the first world war, in which skilled riders and their many horses were requisitioned, and the growth of cinema as a competing entertainment resulted in a noticeable dip in the circus’s popularity in the UK in the 1920s. There was a resurgence in 1950/60s and there are still a number of circuses active today. The social attitude to caged and performing animals together with limits on children participating have, however, made an overall change to what we see in the circus ring now
Having given her brief summary Rosie then produced a bag containing balls, feathers, scarves, diabolos and plates, plus some hula hoops. She demonstrated her own skills with each piece of equipment. Then she let the members ‘play’, with varying degrees of success, at juggling, balancing feathers, spinning plates, controlling diabolos. A fun end to an entertaining evening.
Susan Renshaw gave the vote of thanks, and, with Carol Smith, provided refreshments. Rachel Forrest won the raffle, while the winners of the competition for a clown in any medium were Pat Bevan and Anne Hulse.