Circus Skills - Full Body

Moving onto larger manipulation props, these will involve using and moving more of your body. In this category we will look at


To be successful

Advice or tips to help you


Body position

This is important when manipulating objects. It is easy to get lost in what you are doing and forget about your posture. This can lead to more aches and pains than necessary.

Stand with back straight

- Make sure someone checks posture or looks in a mirror.

Keep feet hip-width apart

- Check the placement of your feet before you begin doing your skill

Look forward

- Try not to stand looking at your feet or elsewhere. Sometimes it will be necessary to watch the object you are manipulating when learning tricks or doing difficult moves.



Figure of eight

This trick is the basis of most staff spinning tricks and is a very important first building block to learn.

Use this trick technique

- Hold the staff upright in your strong hand loosely between your thumb and index finger.

- The end of the staff which is at the top will be the leading end.

- Starting with the staff at the side of your body, bring the leading end down and across the front of your body to your opposite foot.

- Then bring the leading end up in a semi-circle past the side of your body to your opposite shoulder.

- Now bring the leading end back down and across the front of your body to the other foot, then up the side of your body in a semi-circle back to the starting position.

- This pattern should make a figure of eight around you. Now begin again.

Avoid getting the staff twisted!

- If you get confused or the staff gets tangled - don't panic! Just begin the pattern again from the start.


- As with all circus skills the main key is practice!! A lot of practice will make this pattern really smooth. Also remember to practise equally with the weaker hand.


Flat spinning

This trick involves spinning the staff in front of you, passing from hand to hand constantly

Use this trick technique

- Hold the staff with both hands horizontally out in front of you with your palms facing down and thumbs together. This is the starting position.

- Let go with your left hand and turn your right hand half a turn clockwise so your palm is facing upwards.

- Cross your left hand over the top of the right hand and take hold of the staff. Your arms should now be crossed with your thumbs together and your palms both facing upwards.

- Let go of the staff with the right hand and do half a clockwise turn with the left hand. Now put the right hand back on the staff in the starting position.

- Repeat.

Start slowly!

- This move can initially be confusing but will become smoother and faster with practice. Build up the speed and control gradually.

Use variations

- You should learn this move anti-clockwise also and it can also be done above the head in ceiling plane. Also experiment and see where else around your body you can do it.


Further variations

Do a figure of eight in wall planes

- When you learnt the first figure of eight it should have been in the wheel planes. Now you can try it in the wall planes. The technique is the same, but you send the staff in a slightly different direction.

- Begin with your arm out to the side of your body. When you begin the first circle, bring the staff in front of you instead of to the side of you.

- For the second circle, bring the staff behind you instead of to the side of you.

- The pattern should be exactly the same but with the staff moving in front and behind you instead of to each side.

Use basic body turns

- You should now be able to switch between doing the Figure of Eight in Wheel and Wall Planes by simply turning your body 90 degrees to one side. Which way you turn will depend on which hand you are spinning with. Have a play with these variations.

Link your moves

- You should now be able to link the Figure of Eight and Flat Spinning. Begin with the Figure of Eight in Wall Plane. As the staff comes across the front of your body, you should be able to put your other hand on the staff to come to the starting position of the Flat Spinning trick. Practise to make it more fluid. Check websites such as YouTube or other video-sharing websites for demonstrations of further tricks.


Hula Hoop

Getting started!

Check your starting position

- Place the hoop just above the hips, using the hands to press into your back.


- Push the hoop around your hips using a circular motion with your hips to give the hoop momentum.

Learn as you drop the hula hoop

- Don't panic when you drop; this will happen a lot when you are learning. Keep practising.



Return to starting position

- Start as in basic hooping but rotate the hoop in the opposite direction.

Link clockwise- and anti-clockwise hooping

- With practice you can change from one direction to another simply by catching the hoop near your back and pushing it back the other way.

Make it smooth!!

- Keep practising the direction change until it becomes easy and looks smooth.


Hand rotations

Check arm placement

Hold your arm out from the side of the body at 90 degrees.

Ensure hoop placement is correct

- Have your palm facing forward with the hoop between your thumb and index finger.


- Spin the hoop forward being careful to keep it between the pointy finger and thumb for control. Then try in reverse. And also try on your opposite hand.



Getting started

Keep one stick still and one stick moving up and down to spin the Diablo

- Keep your weaker hand still and your stronger hand moving up and down to make the Diablo spin one way.

Don't have sticks at different heights or one in front of the other

- Make sure sticks are level and in line.

Keep the back bowl of the Diablo parallel to your body

- Make sure the back bowl of the Diablo is parallel to the front of your body. If the Diablo twists, you need to turn your body so you remain parallel.



Do tricks with a fast-moving Diablo

- Have the Diablo spinning at high speed before attempting a trick.

Ensure you have enough space for your trick

- Make sure when trying a trick that needs plenty of room that there is no one nearby. Do not attempt a trick that requires plenty of space in an area full of people.


Throw your Diablo correctly

- Throw Diablo into the air by pulling the sticks away from each other, keeping the string tight. Watch the Diablo coming down, and then catch it with the string still tight and sticks pulled away from each other.


Keeping the Diablo spinning after a trick

Keep it spinning

- After you have finished the trick, keep the Diablo spinning.

Untangle the string

- If the string has tangled after the trick, stop and untangle straight away.

Ensure that Diablo isn't spinning in the wrong direction

- If the Diablo is spinning it the other direction to what it was before the trick, walk around to the other side of the Diablo to keep it spinning the same as before the trick.