c/o Commonwealth Circus Center
8 Brookley Rd
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 U.S.A.


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What is Social Circus?

In the last decade, a movement called social circus has been gaining momentum worldwide. Its mission is to use circus arts for social change. Social circus often means prioritizing the idea that underserved populations should have access to circus arts, and also that circus arts can and should be used to build life skills, such as confidence, resilience, communication, and the ability to self-advocate. Social circus often works with at-risk youth, using circus arts as a medium for social justice and for providing opportunities to children in underserved communities.   

First developed by circus performers and instructors, social circus is now embraced and practiced by people from a wide range of backgrounds, including social workers, teachers, and youth counselors. At Circus Up, we often collaborate with allied health care professionals (occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech language pathologists) and social workers to help us make our programs and equipment more accessible to children and adults who might need accommodations. Circus arts offer many opportunities for helping individuals to develop confidence and skills, and to improve physical conditioning through various circus arts, including partner acrobatics, clowning, juggling, and aerials.  

Circus arts are also extremely adaptable and can be easily made accessible to people with a wide range of abilities, which allows people to participate fully. For example, a student with limited flexibility might feel more comfortable working on juggling or clowning; a student with a great deal of energy might connect strongly to acrobatics. Skilled educators can develop and lead specific circus games and activities in order to help individuals or groups practice communication, cooperation, turn-taking, reading body language, and endless other social and emotional skills. 

Watch this amazing video from our hero and inspiration, Circus Harmony and Jessica Hentoff, to learn more about social circus.

Circus Up is dedicated to promoting and expanding social circus throughout Boston. To learn more or to participate in social circus, contact us! 


  • Health & Fitness: Circus arts training bolsters overall health by offering fun opportunities for cardiovascular exercise and strength training while also promoting good nutrition and a healthy body image.

  • Creativity: Youth learn to engage creatively with each other through new verbal and physical vocabulary, leading to innovative ways of thinking. This in turn leads to multiple avenues of understanding, interpreting, and participating with their communities.

  • Motivation & Competency: Carefully chosen goals, which are individualized and scaled, allow students to experience the thrill of success through increasingly difficult challenges.

  • Focus & Concentration: The fun of learning circus arts inspires adults and youth to develop and practice routines, building new skills and transforming tasks into challenges.

  • Communication: The collaborative nature of circus arts demands and fosters strong communication skills, which are essential to performance and safety.

  • Teamwork: Circus arts create an encouraging environment where everyone's success contributes to and is necessary to the group.


We are so grateful to our national and international colleagues and mentors for their previous and ongoing research into the benefits of arts education, and specifically into circus arts. Some recent research includes:

For more information, feel free to contact us or visit the American Circus Educators Research page here.