The story of Upsala-Circus began in March 2000. A German student named Astrid Schorn was completing her studies in social pedagogy in Saint Petersburg. Her goal was to rehabilitate children from the streets with the help of circus arts. She founded her unique project right on the streets of Saint Petersburg.
Larisa Afanasieva, still the executive and art director of the project nowadays, was Astrid’s partner in the project from the first day.Together they sought children from subway stations and teenage hangouts. Using juggling and unicycles Astrid and Larisa were able to form their first group of artists-to-be. In the beginning they would practice on the streets or wherever they could, in parks and on the squares. For many years Upsala-Circus has been a homeless travelling group, until in 2012 we finally built a stationary circus tent.
The first and so far the only tent for youth circus in Russia was erected in 2012 on the premises of the company Teorema. It is a dream come true for Upsala-Circus. The tent provides good lighting and sound, but most importantly it provides a space for creativity. Through creation the children contribute to the project becoming legitimate hosts of the unique atmosphere.
Upsala-Circus has created and published its method based on the combination of the two approaches – modern circus art and social pedagogy. Every member of the team knows the method in details and is able to follow it. We described a special rout for every child entering Upsala-Circus.
The goal of our work is to positively influence the life scenario and social status of at risk children and adolescents by means of modern circus art and creativity. The method itself is based on the combination of the two approaches – modern circus art and social pedagogy. However, the main working instrument is the circus pedagogy. While social pedagogy uses the instruments that help children to socialize and adapt to the existing world, circus creates a special place where children can begin to reflect upon this world, develop their creativity and question this very world.