A Parent's Guide to Evaluations

By Mia Anderson-Hinn

Mia and her family at our Halloween Haunt this year.

Mia and her family at our Halloween Haunt this year.

'Tis the season for many traditions, events, and wishes as we move through the holidays and look towards the new year ahead. It is also the season for AcroSports evaluations! If your kids are anything like mine, the hope of moving up to the next level is somewhere on their wishlist, and you would like to know how to best support them in their efforts. Even if they don’t seem interested in moving up or aware of the evaluation process, perhaps (as their parent) you would still like to know how to best support, empower, or motivate them in their skill development. 

My two tips are: 

1. Understand your child and their unique needs - not everyone responds to being evaluated the same way, so ensure they know what feedback means.

2. Be prepared! Make sure that both you and your child know what to expect.

I know we all lead busy lives, but it is always important to set aside time with your kids to discuss their personal goals and how they plan to achieve them (in all their endeavors). In terms of AcroSports’ classes, ask them:

  • What they are working on in class, 
  • What they are struggling with in class, 
  • What they hope to be doing a year from now, 
  • What role they hope their AcroSports’ skills have in their lives 10 years from now, and
  • How they are feeling about the upcoming evaluations?     

The more consistent you can be with your inquiry throughout the session, the better, but it is never too late to start asking. 

It is possible they can’t answer one or more of the last 4 questions with great clarity, and that is okay, it does not mean they don’t care about their goals or skill development. Rather, it means they are still young, content with where they are at present, and process-oriented in their development (I have one of these). Follow their lead and learn everything you can about valuing the process (over results) if you aren’t fortunate enough to be process-oriented yourself. As they get older, it is typically okay to gently challenge them to be more aware of their own struggles, the specific results they hope to achieve, and the intricacies of evaluations, as a way to enhance (but never disrupt) their development process. The coolest thing is that these kids intuitively understand how to value the evolution of the learning process more than the results of evaluation. Even if they don’t move to the next level, they know they are still learning and developing every single time they go to class. 

It is possible they can’t answer any of your questions with great clarity, and that is okay too. Perhaps they are still too young or too focused on learning and having fun to be aware of the process or set any goals. It is also possible that the whole experience makes them anxious, and they do need extra help to interpret and understand it all. It is up to you to figure out why they can’t answer your questions and how you can help. Be present as much as you can to observe them in their class. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in the grandstands for 2-3 hours, just invest a little time at the beginning or the end of class. You can also talk to their coaches! AcroSports has some of the best coaches you could possibly ask for in your kids’ lives. You can trust them to know your kids, their potential, and their needs. They can share the specifics about what your child is working on and struggling with so that you can figure out what is preventing them from being fully engaged. The coaches can also tell you exactly what skills are being evaluated and how evaluations are conducted so that you can help your child understand what to expect. 

It is possible they answer all of your questions with incredible clarity and want to go to the Olympics (I also have one of these). With these kids, you have to find a way to celebrate their ambitions and empower them to pursue their dreams while also teaching them to value the process and hold realistic expectations during evaluations. This is just as important for the kids that move quickly through the levels as it is for the kids that take longer. Those that move quickly through the lower levels will struggle (in their development) at some point and they will need to be equipped to push through their struggles without getting frustrated or looking for shortcuts. By teaching them to value the process, we are actually strengthening their existing ambitions. For those that struggle early, we want to prevent them from giving up before they hit their stride. This can be really hard for parents that are results-focused individuals so be aware of your own expectations and make sure that you don’t make it harder for your child. If you are really concerned, talk to their coaches about things you can do outside of the gym to supplement their development. The best thing you can do for them is make sure they are over-prepared for evaluations with a realistic view of their abilities and struggles as well as a plan for handling the results either way. They may still be disappointed if they don’t quite make it to the next level, but they won’t lose their ambitions (and you won’t either!). The bonus is that you may grow quite a bit in the process as well!  

If you feel like you have tried everything to help your child and things are still super stressful around evaluations, come find me and let’s talk further about how you can help support them. 

See you all next week! Good luck to you and your kids! Always remember - their level number is much less important than the learning and development they experience each week in class because it is so much more than just skills. They are also learning invaluable lessons in discipline, integrity, determination, friendship, perseverance, and courage. Focus on the learning! 

TERRA INCOGNITA: Through the Waves

By Hannah Gaff

A shot of Hannah from our latest cabaret "Once Upon a Midnight Dreading"

A shot of Hannah from our latest cabaret "Once Upon a Midnight Dreading"

I've worked at AcroSports for a year this Wednesday, November 9! I was originally hired as the Performance Program Coordinator, and by our Pre-K and Offsite programs. After a few months, I joined the management team as AcroSports' Performance Program Manager, coaching and managing our youth circus and performance classes and Youth Performance Ensemble, CircusLab, and producing AcroSports' in-house cabarets and youth showcases. I also coach an Adult Intro to Handbalancing class twice a week. I love how diverse my job is on any given day and how I am constantly in a state of play; I'm really able to utilize all of my passions and strengths. From coaching youth and adults in performance, clowning and circus, to event planning and production, to performing and clowning around in our cabarets, to directing and manifesting performances - I'm always on my toes and using my creativity and imagination. 

My creative work at AcroSports feeds my work as an artist and performer outside of Acro! I am Managing Director and a core-performer and creator with UpLift Physical Theatre, an acrobatic theatre company in the Bay Area. I am a clown and physical comedian and I just began working with the Medical Clown Project which provides therapeutic medical clowning to children and adults in Bay Area hospitals. I have a MFA in ensemble-based physical theatre from Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA.

Hannah and her fellow performers in Terra Incognita: Through the Waves Image: Brian Byllesby

Hannah and her fellow performers in Terra Incognita: Through the Waves

Image: Brian Byllesby

Created in collaboration with UpLift Physical Theatre
EXIT Studio, 156 Eddy St, San Francisco
November 4 – November 19, 2016 | 8pm
CLICK FOR TICKETS

Weaving together acrobatic movement and storytelling, this intimate play tells the tale of one woman following the disappearance of her soul-mate. Join UpLift Theatre’s all-female cast in an exploration of a woman lost between the waters of her grief and the mountaintops of her joyful memories.

Founded in 2013, UpLift Physical Theatre is a collaboration of actor-acrobats trained in ensemble-based physical theatre at Dell’Arte International. Pushing the edge of human ability, UpLift’s unique style uses the momentum and visceral engagement of our living bodies to create original works that explore the physical truths of gravity, emotion, and endurance.

Follow Gymnastics Team USA!

Ever since the AcroStaff went to the Women’s Olympic Trials in San Jose, we’ve been counting down the days to the Olympics (no, really, there’s a countdown on our Youth & PreK page). The gymnasts trained hard in the States, and are finally down in Rio getting ready for the Big One. You can catch up on their podium training so far here and here.

To provide you with a little Olympics crash course in what to expect and when to expect it, we have all of the information about the US Team and when they will be competing.

First, the athletes themselves. We’ve listed everyone who is going to represent the USA below, and included their Instagram handles if you want to see all the behind-the-scenes and what they’re up to.

The Men’s Team:

- Captain: Chris Brooks (@cbrooks_gym)

- Jake Dalton (@jake_dalton)

- Sam Mikulak

- Danell Leyva (@danelljleyva)

- Alex Naddour (@alex_naddour)

Alternates: Akash Modi, Donnell Whittenburg

 

 

The Women’s Team:

- Captain: Aly Raisman (@alyraisman)

- Simone Biles (@simonebiles)

- Gabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas)

- Laurie Hernandez (@lauriehernandez_)

- Madison Kocian (@madison_kocian)

Alternates: MyKayla Skinner, Ragan Smith, Ashton Locklear

More information about all of the gymnasts here. Of course, you can also follow USA Gymnastics and NBC Olympics if you’re willing to flood your timeline and get truly OBSESSED.

 

Now is the time to clear your schedules, or move your lunch break around so you don’t miss a thing. NBC is covering The Rio Olympics, and you can find the full schedule for all sports here. What we’ve done is hunted through all of the badminton and field hockey to give you the schedule that’s just gymnastics (all in PST). We will be live-tweeting the events as they unfold over on our Twitter account!

Friday, August 5th: The Rio Olympics Opening Ceremonies!

Saturday, August 6th: Men’s Gymnastics Qualifications (The USA Men’s team is in Subdivision 2, which starts at 10:30am)

Sunday, August 7th: Women’s Gymnastics Qualifications (The USA Women’s team is in Subdivision 4, which starts at 1:30pm)

Monday, August 8th: Men’s Team Final (12:00pm)

Tuesday, August 9th: Women’s Team Final (12:00pm)

Wednesday, August 10th: Men’s All-Around Final (12:00pm)

Thursday, August 11th: Women’s All-Around Final (12:00pm)

Sunday, August 14th: Apparatus Finals (10:00am)

Monday, August 15th: Apparatus Finals (10:00am)

Tuesday, August 16th: Artistic Gymnastics (10:00am)

Sunday August 21st: The Rio Olympics Closing Ceremonies

Follow along and share your excitement with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Name Our Monster Mascot!

Meet our monster mascot for The Rio Olympics!

We're having a competition to give them a name from now until Monday, August 1st. If we pick your name, you'll win an Olympic Prize Package that includes a $25 gift certificate!

To enter:
- Take a picture with them at our set-up downstairs
- Post that picture on social media with the name that you think best fits our monster
- Tag us in your picture on Facebook, Instagram (@acrosports), or Twitter (@acrosportssf)

Offering Circus Arts to Sensitive Populations: CircusAid - by Sarah Arriga

Photo by Jill Maglio

Photo by Jill Maglio

I taught trampolining and tumbling to youth and adults at AcroSports back in 2013. While teaching there, I learned skills that would eventually lead me to the CircusAid project at “the Jungle” a refugee camp in Calais, France. There are over 7,000 refugees currently living in poor conditions in Calais, many displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq.

 

These refugees are not statistics, they are humans trying to restart their lives, having experienced unimaginable hardship to reach Europe. CircusAid offers workshops in circus skills that focus on forging a positive, joyful environment to support mental health. CircusAid is a branch of Holistic Circus Therapy (HCT), founded by Jill Maglio, and has offered me an extraordinary opportunity to share the skills I am learning with a community in need as I work on my OT Masters.

 

At AcroSports, I worked with circus enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. The culture of inclusion in the gym made it easy for people to not only discover strengths they hadn’t yet explored, but develop their own joyful relationship with circus. My students at AcroSports had much in common with the refugees. They all have a unique sense of joy and strength as they learn new skills. Some had experienced trauma and were starting over in their lives but came to class because circus gave them a chance to prove their resilience to themselves. What I’ve learned through teaching is how people with the most need often gain the most from circus. Through the simple acts of doing circus with other humans, I’ve seen trust, empathy, communication, reciprocity and teamwork blossom.

 

What do you carry with you from circus? Perhaps you’ve seen your child grow strong and confident from circus classes or you’ve learned to trust your acrobatics partner with your life. The positive qualities developed from circus activities can be transferred into real life situations. For migrants, the lessons learned from circus activities may be tools they use as they integrate into new communities. With activities like “The Mindfulness of Juggling” I hope for CircusAid to alleviate the social and emotional trauma these people have encountered and to prime them for optimal health and resilience for their journey.


To help us raise funds to buy circus equipment for refugees please see our CircusAid fundraising campaign, http://gogetfunding.com/circusaid/Without sufficient funding we will not be able to run our project. Please support us if you believe in the work we are doing.

 

AcroWarrior Parties

We're excited to announce our newest addition to our Party Program - the AcroWarrior Obstacle Course! You'll still be able to use some of our party favorites like our trapeze, foam pit, and zip-line but in a new, challenging, AcroWarrior way.

It changes the whole layout of the gym into a massive obstacle course for each party guest to run through, and includes a space for a game of dodge-ball as well.  We are committed to providing quality events for you and your family, and want to ensure that our parties grow and expand to create options for everyone.

If you're looking to book this party (for a birthday, end of school year celebration, or any other special event) head over to our party page, book an "Ultra" party, and select "AcroWarrior Obstacle Course" as an add-on.

*Even though this video shows an adult (our very own Birthday Manager Coach Mick), this course is designed for kids. We recommend guests age 8 or above.

Patti's Farewell and Thank You

I think that for most of us that work at AcroSports the major benefit to being an employee is the ability to interact with it’s diverse and talented community. I have coached classes and run two of the programs, but I’ve also been a adult student. My kids have been campers and attended parties here, and this spring AcroSports' offsite program will be teaching classes at my kids’ school. I’ve formed valuable friendships with my some of my co­workers and been inspired by the dedication of those around me.

The choice to phase out my management role and change my professional focus has been a hard decision, but there are a few things that have made it easier. First, the AcroSports community isn’t going anywhere and I’m still a part of it. Whether I’m in the bleachers watching my kids tumble, coaching a class on Sunday morning, or volunteering at the door for the Halloween Haunt, I’m still going to be around. Second, I’m leaving my programs in the hands of a very talented, dedicated and capable person. I feel good about Coach Mick taking over as Camp and Event manager because I know he’s going to be great!

As I transition out of my role as camp manager, I’d like to share a short list of things I’ve learned about circus arts while working at AcroSports.

1. Circus is a community. When I plan the camp programming I always have community building on my mind. It’s why all of our games are inclusive and it’s why we play them every day. It’s also why we create a show every single week. Kids come to AcroSports and they learn, play, and grow their community.

2. Practicing circus arts teaches the growth mindset. Growth mindset is the idea that individual potential can be reached through dedication and hard work and that person’s natural aptitude is only a starting point for later success. With this in mind, anyone can learn to do circus tricks. If you want to learn handstands and you establish a dedicated practice then you will develop and improve your ability to perform a handstand. Personal accountability, self discipline, and resilience are just a few of the life skills that you develop while engaging in a study of circus.

3. Circus is fun! Heaps and heaps of fun. I love my juggling practice now as much as I did when I first started juggling so many many years ago. And I still feel like I have so many tricks that I could learn. I think circus is one of those activities where you can always push your boundaries, learn new things, meet like minded people and enjoy your self. There is a venue for everyone in circus arts. You just gotta find and live it.

Thank you so much to AcroSports for offering all the great programming and for having me on board for so many years. I’ll be seeing you all in the bleachers!

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Spring Class Offerings

Here at AcroSports, we work hard to program new and innovative classes for everyone, across all programs. So without further ado, here are some of our brand new classes ready for Spring Session!

Open Registration begins this Monday, March 7th.

Tumble and Tootsie Yoga

Times: Tootsie - Mondays 11:30am, Tumble - Tuesdays 11:00am

Coach: Charlie McDonald

Tootsie Yoga (ages 2-3)  is a wonderful opportunity for both parents/guardians and children to do yoga together, whilst Tumble Yoga (ages 4-6) enables your little ones to learn yoga without parent supervision.  Both classes incorporate storytelling, interactive games, and music. Students will experience various yoga postures, breathing exercises, and visualization techniques. These classes will also have the ability to utilize our Pre-K obstacle courses. Each week the classes will have a theme that weaves in education about nature, anatomy and compassion.


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Times: Sundays 11am Ages 9-12, 12pm Ages 6-8

Coach: Mick Glenn

Special Needs is divided into two age groups, 6-8 years old, and 9-12 years old. In both classes, students are taught a mix of tumbling, balance beam, bars, parkour, and trampoline. Through combining the principles of gymnastics with parkour, students develop strength, agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, and ultimately independent confidence in using their own bodies.


Adult Conditioning

Times: Fridays 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm

Coach: Rachel Bradford

Our new strength and conditioning class is for anyone looking to increase their fitness level, and perfect for parents with children attending Pre-K classes on Friday morning! In a relaxed and safe environment you can learn to lift weights using correct movement patterns focusing on form and technique. This conditioning class uses a variety of modalities to increase your overall fitness and strength using body weight exercises, weight lifting, gymnastic movements and high intensity work outs.


Adult Wall Trampoline

Times: Wednesday 12:00pm, 6:30pm

Coach: Elijah Jennett

Learn to fly in our new adult trampoline class! Better your abilities all around by building your aerial awareness and coordination. You’ll start with learning fundamental Trampolining skills, and can work your way up to defying gravity by learning to walk the wall. This class will utilize our high performance trampoline, 7 foot tramp wall, tumble track, and foam pit.

Juniper's Performers Without Borders Adventure

Hello everyone,

 

My name is Juniper Anderson, and I have been teaching here at AcroSports for the last 9 months and teaching circus arts for the last 3 years. I am heading to Nicaragua for three months with Performers Without Borders. P.W.B. for short, is an organization based out of the U.K. that brings social circus to countries with high instances of child poverty, such as India and Nicaragua.

 

We will be working with kids who wouldn't normally have the chance to have this kind of education. In doing so we hope to build a sense of community while supporting a creative outlet, steering them away from drug use, and gang violence. Through this work, we will help students build confidence, develop empowerment and overcome social barriers.

 

I will be teaching a range of different circus skills while performing with a group of 6 other talented individuals. We will also be working with other organizations who remain there year round, and we will be donating all the props we bring down there to the kids.

Donate to Juniper's Performers Without Borders Adventure here

If you want to learn more about Performers Without Borders please visit their website

Watch a video of a previous tour in Nicaragua here

 

Former AcroStaffer Victoria Quine rocks the boat in a seafaring circus

It was a blistering day in late July and I was dangling in my harness from the mast, slowly guiding the truss up 30 feet from the deck below. I was one of two aerialists in Caravan Stage Company's Production "Hacked: the Treasure of the Empire". The cast and crew amounted to 10 performers and 10 others from 8 different countries. In April I set off to join Caravan in Brooklyn, NY. We traveled up the Hudson River, Erie Canal, across Lake Ontario, and up to the St. Lawrence River performing for towns all along the water. They ranged from tiny rural communities to bustling tourist destinations with audiences of over 600 packed along the dock to watch us perform on the ship.

It's a fairly big undertaking, the breakdown and set-up of this political, multimedia opera. First we needed to unpack everything off the deck of the 90 foot river barge, organize it on land, scurry up the ratlines and clip in. There, I spent the rest of the day bolting the truss together, screwing in the grates to stand on, and from there, building the set which includes doors, large screens for projections, a larger-than-life hippocampus (a mythical horse/serpent), mini roller coaster, and of course the aerial pods from which I was performing.

As an aerialist and acrobat, I finally had the opportunity to perform on silks, rope, and chains (which yes, hurts exactly as much as you can imagine). The show not only featured aerialists and showcased some talented voices, but also utilized video projection, masks and puppetry to tell the story of four intrepid pirates who steal the gold from the global bank, Mammon Corps, with the intention to distribute it freely to the 99%.

Touring with this Canadian company was more of an adventure than I could have ever anticipated. I made some really wonderful friends along the way, including my fellow aerialist with whom I'm currently performing here in the Bay Area! Plus, I got to learn about life on a boat, not just as a performer, but as a crew member navigating and steering The Amara Zee.

She's currently sailing her way down to Florida where she'll winter, but I have returned to CA and am excited to be performing and teaching again out here. All in all, one of the things I love about being a circus artist is the opportunity for adventure and getting to share that with my students. Who knows, maybe one of our very own students at AcroSports will be future Caravaners!

Photo by Johanna Bobrow

Photo by Johanna Bobrow

About Victoria Quine:

Victoria Quine began her circus career at her alma mater Hampshire College where she studied cognitive psychology and child development. She then went on to train at the National Institute of Circus Arts and the New England Center for Circus Arts. Victoria was head aerial coach for AcroSports Sept 2014-April 2015 and currently teaches and performs in the Bay Area.

Welcome to the AcroBlog!

Here at AcroSports, we’re all about community—making circus, gymnastics, and urban arts accessible to everybody, providing outreach programs to underserved communities across the Bay Area, and supporting our AcroFamily of coaches, staff, and students.


So we created a blog for our community to talk about what makes it special.

What is there to look forward to?

- Guest columns from our teaching professionals performance lives as  aerialists, contortionists, and break-dancers in cities around the world

- Retrospectives of events and festivals at AcroSports and elsewhere

- Stories from AcroSports alumni

- Features of our amazing staff!

Our AcroStaffer of the Month: Erin Conn

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Erin Conn has gone above and beyond the past month. As both a coach and the Pre-K coordinator, she has been substituting numerous classes for her coaches, held down the fort while our Pre-K manager was out of the office, and has kept an incredibly positive attitude with a huge smile on her face to boot.


Thank you and congratulations, Erin, for being awesome!