Kingston entrepreneur to mark World Circus Day with a focus on inclusion

Erin Ball on silks at a Kingston Grand Theatre residency. The film of this performance will be streamed for free on the Kingston Circus Arts Facebook page for World Circus Day on Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022. Photo by Virginia Maria Photography.

Katarokwi/Kingston entrepreneur, inclusion coach, and circus performing artist Erin Ball, of Kingston Circus Arts, is offering up some innovative and inclusive ways for Kingstonians to mark World Circus Day.

First established in 2010 by Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, World Circus Day is celebrated on the third Saturday each April in recognition of Circus Arts and Culture around the globe, according to a release from Kingston Circus Arts. This year, the day will be marked on April 16.

Kingston Circus Arts, which also launched in 2010, began offering circus classes (aerial arts, flexibility, conditioning, acrobatics, burlesque and more), camps, workshops, parties and performances to members of the public in the greater Kingston region, according to the organization.

“We strive to welcome underrepresented communities and have created a unique space with a disability-centred approach,” shared Ball, a double, below-knee amputee since 2014.

Circus arts are a passion for Ball, who explained that the art has helped her through many rough times in her life.

“I love how multifaceted it is, and the community is so supportive and wonderful,” she said. “After I became a double below-knee amputee, I realized disabled people and other underrepresented folks were often being left out. At Kingston Circus Arts, we are striving to change that.”

Ball will be celebrating World Circus Day with “her grateful community of students,” according to a press release from Kingston Circus Arts. As part of that, Ball is offering different opportunities for those locally to engage in the arts, as well.

Kingston Circus Arts welcomes anyone who would like to learn circus, the release stated. The business offers services on a sliding scale basis, as well as offering scholarships and prioritizing access. On the performance side, Kingston Circus Arts addresses the question of who is being excluded from taking part in circus arts and how they can be included.

“We consider access and representation both in performers, technicians, and audience members,” explained Ball.

This year, to mark World Circus Day, Kingston Circus Arts will be offering discounts on lessons and parties that are purchased on Saturday, April 16, 2022. According to the release, 50 per cent of the proceeds will be donated to Keenan Simik Komaksiutiksak, an Inuk circus artist who is in the beginning stages of creating free circus programming for Inuit communities.

In addition to discounts and supporting Inuk-led Inuit circus programs, Kingston Circus Arts is celebrating World Circus Day by offering a digital circus act for 24 hours.

The act was created by Erin Ball and local musician, Bon Evans, in collaboration with Blind access consultant, Amy Amantea. It was filmed by Josh Lyon at the Grand Theatre as part of the local residencies, with thanks to the City of Kingston. Kingston Circus Arts said that the video is an aerial hoop act by Erin Ball, with music and lyrics by Bon Evans. The video is a response to questions around how to make circus more accessible and how creative accessibility can enhance art, according to the release. The video will be available for free on the Kingston Circus Arts Facebook page all day on Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022.

For other Kingston businesses who are looking to create more inclusive spaces for people living with a disability, Ball offers the following three tips:

  1. Collaborate and listen. People with lived experience know best what their needs are.
  2. Consider accessibility from the beginning and give it time/priority so that it is most successful and welcoming. 
  3. Learn about ableism and its many intersections and sub-sections. Reflect on your biases, language, actions, policies, etc.

To learn more about Kingston Circus Arts, visit http://kingstoncircusarts.com

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