Teen runs off and joins circus - with parents' blessing

News Dec 19, 2009 by Fannie Sunshine North York Mirror

Bending your body into positions that would put most people in a back brace and flying through the air while using a hula hoop as a gymnastics apparatus is all in a day's work for Anna Kichtchenko.

The 18-year-old, who left her family behind in North York at age 13 to attend The National Circus School in Montreal, hopes to land a job with a touring circus company once she graduates from the school's college program next year.

A specialist in contortion and aerial hula hoop, Kichtchenko was barely a teenager when she told her parents she wanted to move to another province to focus on her circus acts.

"I did recreation circus at the Wonderful World of Circus in Markham but I wanted to go further and train more often," she said of making the decision to relocate to Montreal. "At first my parents were against me moving there but it was difficult for them to say no when it was something I was so passionate about."

The National Circus School held an audition at Wonderful World of Circus and Kichtchenko signed up, not expecting to be accepted. "There's the physical audition where they test your strength with push-ups, chin-ups," she said. "There's some choreography and they see how well you interpret it. There's an acting component so they can see your stage presence and at the end of the audition you show your act."

Once accepted, Kichtchenko moved in with her grandmother in Montreal so she could attend The National Circus School's high school academic program in the evening while honing her performance skills during the day.

A typical day for Kichtchenko begins at 9 a.m. and starts with her specialty, followed by stretching, conditioning, dance, acrobatics and acting. From 6 to 9 p.m., academic classes are attended.

"It's a huge commitment," she said of her packed schedule. "You have your specialty every day but you also have to practice other aspects of circus, like juggling, hand balancing and acting. It touches on a lot of disciplines."

A gymnast when she was younger, Kichtchenko said she wasn't a fan of competitions and didn't like the idea of receiving a number for her performance.

"With circus I liked the aspect that you are appreciated for your performance," she said. "There aren't pre-decided technical moves."

After completing The National Circus School's high school program, Kichtchenko is now in her second year of a three-year college program offered by the circus school.

"At the end of next year I'll audition for different companies," she said, naming Cirque du Soleil and The 7 Fingers as her top choices. "I want a travelling contract."

Marc Lalonde, executive director of The National Circus School, said the placement rate for his students is around 95 per cent, with many graduates snatched up by circus companies Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize and The 7 Fingers.

And to make it easier for younger students to relocate to attend the school, new dormitories for high school students are opening in January, Lalonde said.

"When you are in high school parents are reluctant to find solutions to allow their children to attend the school," he said, adding the residence has space for 25 students. "Our school has students from Canada and all across the world. We have new studios and lots of space for the future."

The National Circus School is accepting applications for the next school term. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15.

Auditions will be held in Toronto on Feb. 4. According to its website, the ideal candidate has previously practiced circus arts, dance, a martial art or acrobatic sports such as artistic or rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, diving or figure skating.

For information, visit www.nationalcircusschool.ca

Teen runs off and joins circus - with parents' blessing

Honing circus skills and attending school a real balancing act for North York native

News Dec 19, 2009 by Fannie Sunshine North York Mirror

Bending your body into positions that would put most people in a back brace and flying through the air while using a hula hoop as a gymnastics apparatus is all in a day's work for Anna Kichtchenko.

The 18-year-old, who left her family behind in North York at age 13 to attend The National Circus School in Montreal, hopes to land a job with a touring circus company once she graduates from the school's college program next year.

A specialist in contortion and aerial hula hoop, Kichtchenko was barely a teenager when she told her parents she wanted to move to another province to focus on her circus acts.

"I did recreation circus at the Wonderful World of Circus in Markham but I wanted to go further and train more often," she said of making the decision to relocate to Montreal. "At first my parents were against me moving there but it was difficult for them to say no when it was something I was so passionate about."

The National Circus School held an audition at Wonderful World of Circus and Kichtchenko signed up, not expecting to be accepted. "There's the physical audition where they test your strength with push-ups, chin-ups," she said. "There's some choreography and they see how well you interpret it. There's an acting component so they can see your stage presence and at the end of the audition you show your act."

Once accepted, Kichtchenko moved in with her grandmother in Montreal so she could attend The National Circus School's high school academic program in the evening while honing her performance skills during the day.

A typical day for Kichtchenko begins at 9 a.m. and starts with her specialty, followed by stretching, conditioning, dance, acrobatics and acting. From 6 to 9 p.m., academic classes are attended.

"It's a huge commitment," she said of her packed schedule. "You have your specialty every day but you also have to practice other aspects of circus, like juggling, hand balancing and acting. It touches on a lot of disciplines."

A gymnast when she was younger, Kichtchenko said she wasn't a fan of competitions and didn't like the idea of receiving a number for her performance.

"With circus I liked the aspect that you are appreciated for your performance," she said. "There aren't pre-decided technical moves."

After completing The National Circus School's high school program, Kichtchenko is now in her second year of a three-year college program offered by the circus school.

"At the end of next year I'll audition for different companies," she said, naming Cirque du Soleil and The 7 Fingers as her top choices. "I want a travelling contract."

Marc Lalonde, executive director of The National Circus School, said the placement rate for his students is around 95 per cent, with many graduates snatched up by circus companies Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize and The 7 Fingers.

And to make it easier for younger students to relocate to attend the school, new dormitories for high school students are opening in January, Lalonde said.

"When you are in high school parents are reluctant to find solutions to allow their children to attend the school," he said, adding the residence has space for 25 students. "Our school has students from Canada and all across the world. We have new studios and lots of space for the future."

The National Circus School is accepting applications for the next school term. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15.

Auditions will be held in Toronto on Feb. 4. According to its website, the ideal candidate has previously practiced circus arts, dance, a martial art or acrobatic sports such as artistic or rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, diving or figure skating.

For information, visit www.nationalcircusschool.ca

Teen runs off and joins circus - with parents' blessing

Honing circus skills and attending school a real balancing act for North York native

News Dec 19, 2009 by Fannie Sunshine North York Mirror

Bending your body into positions that would put most people in a back brace and flying through the air while using a hula hoop as a gymnastics apparatus is all in a day's work for Anna Kichtchenko.

The 18-year-old, who left her family behind in North York at age 13 to attend The National Circus School in Montreal, hopes to land a job with a touring circus company once she graduates from the school's college program next year.

A specialist in contortion and aerial hula hoop, Kichtchenko was barely a teenager when she told her parents she wanted to move to another province to focus on her circus acts.

"I did recreation circus at the Wonderful World of Circus in Markham but I wanted to go further and train more often," she said of making the decision to relocate to Montreal. "At first my parents were against me moving there but it was difficult for them to say no when it was something I was so passionate about."

The National Circus School held an audition at Wonderful World of Circus and Kichtchenko signed up, not expecting to be accepted. "There's the physical audition where they test your strength with push-ups, chin-ups," she said. "There's some choreography and they see how well you interpret it. There's an acting component so they can see your stage presence and at the end of the audition you show your act."

Once accepted, Kichtchenko moved in with her grandmother in Montreal so she could attend The National Circus School's high school academic program in the evening while honing her performance skills during the day.

A typical day for Kichtchenko begins at 9 a.m. and starts with her specialty, followed by stretching, conditioning, dance, acrobatics and acting. From 6 to 9 p.m., academic classes are attended.

"It's a huge commitment," she said of her packed schedule. "You have your specialty every day but you also have to practice other aspects of circus, like juggling, hand balancing and acting. It touches on a lot of disciplines."

A gymnast when she was younger, Kichtchenko said she wasn't a fan of competitions and didn't like the idea of receiving a number for her performance.

"With circus I liked the aspect that you are appreciated for your performance," she said. "There aren't pre-decided technical moves."

After completing The National Circus School's high school program, Kichtchenko is now in her second year of a three-year college program offered by the circus school.

"At the end of next year I'll audition for different companies," she said, naming Cirque du Soleil and The 7 Fingers as her top choices. "I want a travelling contract."

Marc Lalonde, executive director of The National Circus School, said the placement rate for his students is around 95 per cent, with many graduates snatched up by circus companies Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize and The 7 Fingers.

And to make it easier for younger students to relocate to attend the school, new dormitories for high school students are opening in January, Lalonde said.

"When you are in high school parents are reluctant to find solutions to allow their children to attend the school," he said, adding the residence has space for 25 students. "Our school has students from Canada and all across the world. We have new studios and lots of space for the future."

The National Circus School is accepting applications for the next school term. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15.

Auditions will be held in Toronto on Feb. 4. According to its website, the ideal candidate has previously practiced circus arts, dance, a martial art or acrobatic sports such as artistic or rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, diving or figure skating.

For information, visit www.nationalcircusschool.ca