Paralympic Opening Ceremony


In 2012 Circus Space - now the National Centre for Circus Arts - ran an eight week intensive training programme for 42 deaf and disabled artists, preparing them to perform featured roles in the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on 29 August 2012. 

What happened

With our degree programme and a whole range of regular courses and classes still running at our building (a former Victorian power station) in Hoxton we needed to create additional space. A bespoke temporary training space was erected in our courtyard which had main and ancillary training spaces, a medical and physiotherapy room, green room and accessible toilet facilities. Participants were auditioned by LOCOG and those showing potential arrived at Circus Space on April 23rd with very little or no circus experience, but all loaded with enthusiasm. A core team of seven experienced circus practitioners worked alongside our Circus Development team to devise and deliver a rigorous training programme.

“Blood, sweat and tears, but a lot of laughter as well… a few of the amputees, when they approached the circus equipment said ‘I don’t know how this is going to work’ but never ‘I can’t do that’. We too took that approach. We pushed them, hard. It made what you thought impossible, possible”.
Kate Evans, member of the Circus Space teaching team.

This work has cemented our belief in the power of circus to be truly inclusive and open to all in ways which other art forms cannot replicate. After the games we look forward to building on this pioneering project by working to develop ongoing training in circus and physical performance for deaf and disabled artists with a long term ambition to make our programmes integrated at all levels.

Find out more

More information and photos can be found on our blog