five youth circus performers pose in an historic photograph

Circus History for Youth

At Sky Candy, our youth students are the future of circus and the arts in the Austin Community. We offer three levels of youth classes, where students explore a jungle gym of traditional and modern aerial apparatuses. These wonders of the air aren’t just a fun way to get fit, but they have a rich history too. Here is a taste of what our aspiring youth can look forward to learning.


The flying trapeze was invented by a French acrobat named Jules Leotard in the 1800’s. One of the most traditional apparatuses, the trapeze is a steel bar with ropes attached to each end and suspended from the ceiling. Most people will imagine the flying trapeze when they think about circus performers, but there are many types, including; static, spinning, swinging, and doubles trapeze. Our youth students love this swing like apparatus, as they learn to perform skills on or under the bar, and in the ropes of the static trapeze.

Lyra (AKA: Aerial Hoop)

The first recorded Lyra act was in New York in 1893 for an advertisement in the New York Clipper. At first glance, Lyra could pass for a hula hoop, but instead is made of stainless steel and affixed with either one or two points.  Lyra is a hit with our young students, as it allows them to spin, whirl and twirl through the air, almost like spinning on a merry-go round.


Created in 1959 by a French circus school student but not officially recognized until 1998, silks have recently been trending around the world. Some of the other names you may have heard for this apparatus include: fabric, tissu, or aerial ribbons. With bright colors and long flowing lengths of fabric suspended from the ceiling, silks can be stunning to the eye. Our students work first on climbing and wrapping the fabric to perform skills. This soft apparatus is a challenge to work with and requires patience and strength to move on to more advanced skills. It is a surprisingly hefty cardio workout, but as with every aerial apparatus, the gains are very rewarding!


At first glance, hammock looks an awful lot like silks, with one major difference–it is tied up to create a loop, which makes it resemble its lazy cousin of the same name. It’s typically the most popular apparatus with our young students because it allows a number of moves while being supported in mid-air. You can wrap yourself up, climb, stretch, and form poses. Don’t let the name fool you, this hammock is still a big workout!

Acrobatic Pole

Originally from China in the 12th century, chinese pole was performed by circus professionals as a feat of acrobatic strength. Pole modernized in the US in the 1920’s and has since combined fitness, dance, and century-old techniques. Although not a primary focus in our youth classes, the pole is great for students who love to climb because it offers a solid, unmoving grip, unlike the silks. They also gain bragging rights at school when they can climb the underutilized pole to the second level of the playground!

Whatever your interest in aerial circus arts, Sky Candy has an apparatus for your kiddo… or you! Our Aerial Basics for Youth classes and Sky Camps try out all of our apparatuses. Then as youth students progress to the next levels of series classes, they choose from horizontal or vertical apparatuses in our Trapeze and Lyra for Youth or Silks and Hammock for Youth. Come join us at Sky Candy and become a part of the history of circus!

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