The ACE Story
The American Circus Educators Association was formed in 2014 as a branch of the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) and is dedicated to supporting circus educators. ACE is the trusted authority when it comes to all things circus education and is the primary source for professional development, networking, and information about circus education for anyone identifying as a circus parent, teacher, educator, coach, program director, or administrator.
ACE and AYCO
AYCO, the parent organization of ACE, has been serving circus educators since its founding in 1998, when the main form of circus education in the USA was catered towards youth. Since then, circus has gained in popularity and students range in age from toddlers to elders and everything in between. As a result, AYCO formed ACE in order to better serve the emerging circus education community. AYCO is now dedicated to distinctly serving young people and their supporters through a variety of youth-focused programs.
For those of you who know and love AYCO, it’s important to assure you that all of the programs and opportunities that AYCO has been providing since 1998 are still alive and well!
Although AYCO has “youth” in its title, the only direct services we have been offering to youth are our youth circus festivals. The direct service offered to adults and educators have been much more substantial. Our online network, professional development opportunities, magazine, social media, and newsletter have all been catered towards adults.
It’s become clear that the best way to serve youth and educators is by doing so distinctly. We’ve shifted all of the community and networking programs that you know and love for adults to be housed appropriately under ACE, and made a strong commitment to serving the diversity of circus educators under that branch. As a result, we are now able to truly serve youth through AYCO—which means new services catered towards young artists and practitioners and their supporters. AYCO has been re-imagined to include a circus swag box membership perk, youth authored e-newsletter and blog, a new website that is youth-friendly, increased showcase opportunities, and all of the national and regional events we’ve always produced. For more information about the distinction between AYCO and ACE programs visit our FAQ. To visit our AYCO website, click here.
Circus education has evolved over the centuries. Traditionally, skills were passed down through family lineage or bestowed through an apprenticeship model. The past 100 years have seen the development of pedagogy and training techniques offered to students through circus schools, organizations, performing companies, and individual coaches and educators. The present day circus student can be virtually anyone- from toddlers to elders and everyone in between. From students with a recreational focus to those hoping to go pro, circus education is inclusive of a diversity of access points. Some of the many approaches included are: youth circus, circus as a tool for social change and therapy, health and well-being for adults, professional career development, and artistic expression for all. It is our aim to support the diversity of circus educators through our professional development offerings, safety project, and community network.