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Bat City Circus

Sharing the Magic of Circus for Fitness and Fun – for Every Body

Batizen Blog

  • Research Supports The Benefits of Circus Arts Training

    by Tina Anderson B.S.OTR Occupational Therapist/ Circus Arts Therapist and Aerial Dance Instructor

    Humanity is undergoing serious mental health challenges due to social distancing, mask wearing and global financial upheaval as a result of the Covid-19 lock-down and restrictions imposed throughout 2020 and 2021. Prior to the Pandemic, mental health concerns were pervasive with a high incidence of Sensory Processing Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD. (1),(3)

    In the deepest part of human nature, we long for feeling safe, stimulated, inspired and connected. As infants and throughout our early childhood we reach out from ourselves and explore our relationship to our environment and to others. Our physical, mental, emotional and interpersonal growth and development require our exploration. Through expanding our thresholds and transcending our limitations, we learn to have faith in our abilities and to allow new possibilities to arise. The toddler feels empowered yet safe as he runs onto the playground and climbs to the top of the playscape as mother watches from the bench. This autonomy arises through a series of experiences confirming one’s safety and competence.

    The world’s response to the pandemic included extended periods of personal isolation lasting unknown periods. Closed gyms, and playgrounds excluded high intensity vestibular and proprioceptive experiences such as running, swinging, bike riding and swimming from the lives of most adults and children for up to a year. (2) Some families were prepared with playscapes, pools, weights, and other equipment at home to stay fit and stimulated. Remaining indoors with limited opportunities to connect with peers and to exchange physical and emotional vibrations can be stressful. Children learn about emotions through the facial expressions, tone of voice, pitch and heart coherence of the people in their family and community. Adults read body language to detect subtle variances from the content of a person’s spoken words. (3) Virtual meetings, social distancing and mask wearing have impeded our communication and fall far short of the real time visual interaction needed for complete communication.

    The first thing I did when the studio re-opened was to schedule classes at Bat City Circus in my hometown of Austin, TX. The wide open warehouse studio had ample space for safe distancing between students, and the big fan moved the air effectively. Eve Dinnan is a fun and fabulous instructor who effortlessly modifies the class content to meet the needs of her students. With a wide variety of apparatus such as trapeze, lyra, cube, silks and rope my needs for vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli are satisfied. The supportive nature of the circus studio is encouraging and noncompetitive. We recognize and cheer for one another’s accomplishments. In open studio, creative collaborations evolve into performance pieces. Studios throughout Austin have joined together to refer students to various instructors, and to exhibit performance skills in virtual performance showcases. Regular weekly practice keeps me inspired, fit, connected and creating! Join me on the ground or in the air!!!

    Circus Arts Benefits include:

    • A progressive and functional approach to fitness
    • A novel and creative approach to strengthening and flexibility
    • Sharing of ideas and blending performance skills and styles
    • Inclusive and Non-competitive approach to training and performance

    (1)Psychological Distress and Loneliness reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020: June 3, 2020 JAMA 2020;324(1):93-94 by Emma E. McGinty, PhD; Rachel Presskreischer, MS, Hahrie Han, PhD, et al

    (2) The Vestibular System and Proprioception: Two Unknown Senses Updated: Sep 4, 2020 | Ochsner Health Publication Originally Published: Apr 2, 2018|By Emily Wilton, LOTR and Lauren Papania, MOT, LOTR

    (3)Cardiac Coherence, Self-Regulation, Autonomic Stability & Psychosocial Well-being by Rollin McCraty and Maria A Zayas Published in Frontiers in Psychology 2014;5:1090 published online 2014, Sept 29

    (4)Circus Arts Therapy® Fitness and Play Therapy Program Shows Positive Clinical Results 2018 – Carrie Heller, MSW, LCSW, RPT and Dr. Lauren Taglialatela

    (5)Occupational therapy and circus: Potential partners in enhancing the health and well-being of today’s youth by Jill Maglio discusses her research on occupational therapy and circus. She details her project in Australia, the positive results circus had on the youth in her study, and the potential for partnerships to reach more communities.

    (6)Self-Determination Through Circus Arts: Exploring Youth Development in a Novel Activity Context by Jennifer P. Agans, Jacqueline L. Davis, Spyridoula Vazou, and Tal Jarus. Published in the Journal of Youth Development in 2019. The study shows support for basic psychological needs and positive developmental outcomes among youth circus program participants.