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    Circus skills

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    • Clowning

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    • Contortion

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    • Fire arts

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    • Juggling

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    • Magic (illusion)

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    • Magic tricks

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    • Object manipulation

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    • Poi (performance art)

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    • Sideshow attractions

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    • Tightrope walking

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    • Trampolining

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    • Unicycling

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    • List of circus skills

    • Circus skills are a group of pursuits that have been performed as entertainment in circus, sideshow, busking, or variety/vaudeville/music hall shows. Most circus skills are still being performed today. Many are also practiced by non-performers as a hobby. Circus schools and instructors use various systems of categoriz ... Read »


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    • Acro dance

    • Acro dance is a style of dance that combines classical dance technique with precision acrobatic elements. It is defined by its athletic character, its unique choreography, which seamlessly blends dance and acrobatics, and its use of acrobatics in a dance context. It is a popular dance style in amateur competitive dance ... Read »


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    • Acrobalance

    • Acrobalance is an acrobatic art that combines elements of adagio and hand balancing. Adagio consists of partner lifts, usually performed by a man and a woman, where the male lifts his female partner in many different poses and positions. Many forms of adagio also incorporate throws and tosses; the male usually throws ... Read »


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    • Acrobatics

    • Acrobatics (from Greek ἀκροβατέω akrobateō, "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility, and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts, sports (sporting) events, and martial arts. Acrobatics is most often associated with ... Read »


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    • Adagio (acrobatics)

    • Adagio is the performance of partner acrobalance poses and associated movements that involve stationary balances by a pair of performers. It is performed in professional circus, in various dance disciplines including acro dance and ballet, in pair skating, and as a hobby in university circus groups. An adagio pair co ... Read »


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    • Aerial hoop

    • The aerial hoop (also known as the lyra, aerial ring or cerceau/cerceaux) is a circular steel apparatus (resembling a hula hoop) suspended from the ceiling, on which circus artists may perform aerial acrobatics. It can be used static, spinning, or swinging. Tabs are the connection points where the aerial hoop attaches ... Read »


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    • Aerial rigging

    • Aerial rigging is a specialty within the field of rigging that deals specifically with human loads. Aerial rigging is the process of setting up equipment used to make humans fly, specifically aerial circus and aerial dance equipment. The field is of critical importance, and a thorough grasp of the principles of aerial ... Read »


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    • Aerial silk

    • Aerial silk (also known as aerial contortion, aerial ribbons, aerial silks, aerial tissues, fabric, ribbon, or tissu, depending on personal preference) is a type of performance in which one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging from a fabric. Performers climb the suspended fabric without the use of sa ... Read »


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    • Aerial straps

    • Straps, also known as aerial straps, are a type of aerial apparatus on which various feats of strength and flexibility may be performed, often in the context of a circus performance. It is a cotton or nylon web apparatus that looks like two suspended ribbons. By wrapping the strap ends around hands and wrists, the perf ... Read »


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    • Animal training

    • Animal trainer

      Animal training refers to teaching animals specific responses to specific conditions or stimuli. Training may be for purposes such as companionship, detection, protection, and entertainment. The type of training an animal receives will vary depending on the training method used, and the purpose for training the animal. ... Read »


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    • Artistic cycling

    • Artistic cycling is a form of competitive indoor cycling in which athletes perform tricks (called exercises) for points on specialized, fixed-gear bikes in a format similar to ballet or gymnastics. The exercises are performed in front of judges in five-minute rounds by singles, pairs, four- or six-man teams. The f ... Read »


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    • Balance board

    • A balance board is a device used as a circus skill, for recreation, balance training, athletic training, brain development, therapy, musical training and other kinds of personal development. It is a lever similar to a see-saw that the user usually stands on, usually with the left and right foot at opposite ends of the ... Read »


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    • Baton twirling

    • Baton twirling is an activity involving the manipulation of a metal rod and the performer's body to a coordinated routine. It is also considered a sport. It is similar to rhythmic gymnastics or color guard (flag spinning). Twirling combines dance, agility, coordination, flexibility and often gymnastics while manip ... Read »


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    • Bed of nails

    • A bed of nails is an oblong piece of wood, the size of a bed, with nails pointing upwards out of it. It appears to the spectator that anyone lying on this "bed" would be injured by the nails, but this is not so. Assuming the nails are numerous enough, the weight is distributed among them so that the pressure exerted by ... Read »


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    • Card manipulation

    • Card manipulation is the branch of magical illusion that deals with creating effects using sleight of hand techniques involving playing cards. Card manipulation is often used in magical performances, especially in close-up, parlor, and street magic. Some of the most recognized names in this field include Dai Vernon,Ton ... Read »


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    • Cardistry

    • Cardistry is a name given to the performance art of card flourishing. The term is a portmanteau of "card" and "artistry". Unlike card magic, cardistry is meant to be visually impressive and appear very hard to execute. People who engage in cardistry are nicknamed "cardists". Conjuring tricks with playing cards bec ... Read »


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    • Chair acrobatics

    • The use of chairs as props in acrobatic activities falls into three broad categories: balancing, vaulting and contortion. In chair balance acrobatics one or more acrobats balance on one or more chairs. The chair(s) may be balanced on other objects and/or on just one or two legs while the acrobat(s) themselves may also ... Read »


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    • Chinese pole

    • Chinese poles are vertical poles on which circus performers climb, slide down and hold poses. The poles are generally between 3 and 9 metres (10 and 30 ft) in height and approximately 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) in diameter. Some poles have a slightly larger pole that rotates around the static central pole using ba ... Read »


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    • Cigar box (juggling)

    • Cigar boxes are rectangular props used in juggling. Cigar box manipulation began as a vaudeville act in the United States between the 1880s and 1920s, and was popularized by W. C. Fields. Originally, performers would take actual boxes that cigars were stored in and nail them shut to create their juggling props. Today, ... Read »


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    • Cloud swing

    • The cloud swing (not to be confused with the Mexican cloud swing) is an aerial act that usually combines static and swinging trapeze skills, drops, holds and rebound lifts. The apparatus itself is a soft rope about 25-30mm thick. It can be made from a single rope, or from a cotton-filled sheath. On its simplest level ... Read »


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    • Contact juggling

    • Contact juggling is a form of object manipulation that focuses on the movement of objects such as balls in contact with the body. Although often used in conjunction with "toss juggling", it differs in that it involves the rolling of one or more objects without releasing them into the air. Many of the techniques ... Read »


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    • Contortion

    • Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is a performance art in which performers, contortionists, showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility. Contortion acts often accompany acrobatics, circus acts, street performers and other live performing arts. Contortion acts are typically performed in front of a live audi ... Read »


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    • Corde lisse

    • Corde lisse is an aerial circus skill or act that involves acrobatics on a vertically hanging rope. The name is French for "smooth rope". Corde lisse moves are normally a combination of held postures and drops using a rope that hangs from the ceiling. These ropes are normally made from soft cotton about 30-35mm th ... Read »


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    • Cradle (circus act)

    • The cradle (also known as aerial cradle or casting cradle) is a type of aerial circus act in which a performer hangs by his or her knees from a large rectangular frame and swings, tosses, and catches another performer. The aerialist being swung is referred to as a flyer, while the one doing the tossing and catching is ... Read »


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    • Cyr wheel

    • The Cyr wheel (also known as the roue Cyr, mono wheel, or simple wheel) is an acrobatic apparatus that consists of a single large ring made of aluminum or steel with a diameter approximately 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) taller than the performer. The performer stands inside the Cyr wheel and grasps its rim, causing it ... Read »


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    • Danish pole

    • A Danish pole is a circus prop, consisting of a wooden pole about 4 metres long and with a 5 cm diameter. It is fastened to a turnable base on the bottom and to a rope on top. The rope can be slackened, causing the pole to hang at an angle and permitting the artists to swing the pole around the base and do acrobatics o ... Read »


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    • Devil sticks

    • The manipulation of the devil stick (also devil-sticks, devilsticks, flower sticks, gravity sticks, or juggling sticks) is a form of gyroscopic juggling or equilibristics, consisting of manipulating one stick ("baton") between one or two other sticks held one in each hand. The baton is lifted, struck, or stroked by the ... Read »


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    • Diabolo

    • The diabolo (/diːˈæbəloʊ/ dee-AB-ə-loh; commonly misspelled diablo) is a juggling or circus prop consisting of an axle (British English: bobbin) and two cups (hourglass/egg timer shaped) or discs derived from the Chinese yo-yo. This object is spun using a string attached to two hand sticks ("batons" o ... Read »


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    • Equestrian vaulting

    • Equestrian vaulting

      Equestrian vaulting, or simply Vaulting, is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback, which can be practiced both competitively or non-competitively. Vaulting has a history as an equestrian act at circuses, but its origins stretch back at least two-thousand years. It is open to both men and women, and ... Read »


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    • Fire breathing

    • Fire breathing is the act of creating a plume or stream of fire by creating a precise mist of fuel from the mouth over an open flame. Regardless of the precautions taken, it is always a dangerous activity, but the proper technique and the correct fuel reduces the risk of injury or death. Fire breathing is performe ... Read »


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    • Fire eating

    • Fire eating is the act of putting a flaming object into the mouth and extinguishing it. A fire eater can be an entertainer, a street performer, part of a sideshow or a circus act but has also been part of spiritual tradition in India. Fire eating was a common part of Hindu, Sadhu, and Fakir performances to show sp ... Read »


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    • Fire performance

    • Fire performance is a group of performance arts or skills that involve the manipulation of fire. Fire performance typically involves equipment or other objects made with one or more wicks which are designed to sustain a large enough flame to create a visual effect. Fire performance includes skills based on juggling, b ... Read »


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    • Firewalking

    • Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones. Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India – c. 1200 BC. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual's str ... Read »


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    • Flying trapeze

    • The flying trapeze is a specific form of the trapeze in which a performer jumps from a platform with the trapeze so that gravity makes the trapeze swing. The performance was invented in 1859 by a Frenchman named Jules Léotard, who connected a bar to some ventilator cords above the swimming pool in his father's gymn ... Read »


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    • Globe of death

    • The Globe of Death is a circus and carnival stunt where stunt riders ride motorcycles inside a mesh sphere ball. It is similar to the wall of death, but in this act riders can loop vertically as well as horizontally. There have been three performance-related deaths recorded between 1949-1997. The only Globe of Death Wo ... Read »


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    • Hair hang

    • The hair hang is an aerial circus act where performers (usually young women) are suspended by their hair, and perform acrobatic poses and/or manipulation. Some believe the act originated in South America; others claim the act hails from China. Performers are literally hanging by their hair, which is tied into a hairhan ... Read »


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    • Hand walking

    • Hand walking is an unusual form of human locomotion in which a person travels in a vertically inverted orientation with all body weight resting on the hands. It can be executed with legs fully extended or with variations such as stag, straddle or front splits. Hand walking is performed in various athletic activities, i ... Read »


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    • Hat manipulation

    • Hat manipulation is a form of juggling in which the manipulator performs feats of skill and dexterity using a brimmed hat such as a bowler hat or a top hat as a prop. Tricks can range from rolling a hat up and down the various parts of the body to throwing and catching the hat in amusing ways. Hat manipulation is often ... Read »


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    • Human cannonball

    • The human cannonball act is a performance in which a person (the "cannonball") is ejected from a specially designed "cannon". The human cannonball lands on a horizontal net or inflated bag placed at the landing point, as predicted by physics. Outdoor performances may aim at a body of water. The first human cannonb ... Read »


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    • Human firecracker

    • A Human Firecracker is a stunt performed where a person attaches large quantities of firecrackers to themselves and the firecrackers are ignited. One such human firecracker is professional stuntwoman Cynthia Morrison, also known as "the Great Cindini", of West Palm Beach, Florida. Another example is "Ghengis John" Flet ... Read »


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    • Human pyramid

    • A human pyramid is an acrobatic formation of three or more people in which two or more people support a tier of higher people, who in turn may support other, higher tiers of people. People above the bottom tier may kneel or stand on the shoulders, backs or thighs of the people below them. Typically, the number of peopl ... Read »


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    • Impalement arts

    • Impalement arts are a type of performing art in which a performer plays the role of human target for a fellow performer who demonstrates accuracy skills in disciplines such as knife throwing and archery. Impalement is actually what the performers endeavour to avoid – the thrower or marksman aims near the target ra ... Read »


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    • Iron jaw (circus)

    • The Iron Jaw is a traditional aerial circus act. The act consists of a performer raised into the air by a cable, trapeze or other similar apparatus, supported only by a bit clamped between her teeth. Depending on the apparatus the bit is attached to, the performer can alternately swing in circles around the ring below ... Read »


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    • Juggling

    • Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling. Juggling can be the manipulation of one object or many objects at the same time, using one or many hands. Jugglers often refer ... Read »


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    • Kendama

    • Kendama (けん玉?, also written as 剣玉 and 拳玉) ((also known as duce ball)) is a traditional Japanese toy. The ken has three cups and a spike which fits into the hole in the ball. Kendama bears similarities to the classic cup-and-ball game, and the Hispanic world toy known as boliche or ba ... Read »


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    • Knife throwing

    • Knife throwing is an art, sport, combat skill, or variously an entertainment technique, involving an artist skilled in the art of throwing knives, the weapons thrown, and a target. Knife throwing, whether in a martial or sport application, involves the same basic principles of mechanics. The objective in each case ... Read »


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    • Lion taming

    • Lion tamer

      Lion taming is the taming and training of lions either for protection, or more commonly, entertainment, particularly in the circus. The term often applies to the taming and display of other big cats such as tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and cougars. People often use lion taming as a metaphor for a dangerous act ... Read »


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    • Magic (illusion)

    • Magic (illusion)

      Magic (sometimes referred to as stage or street magic to distinguish it from paranormal or ritual magic) is one of the oldest performing arts in the world in which audiences are entertained by staged tricks or illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. These feats are called magic tric ... Read »


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    • Meteor (juggling)

    • A skill toy of Asian origin, the meteor consists of a rope, usually between 5 and 8 feet long, with weights attached to either end. Tricks are performed by swinging, wrapping and throwing the meteor about the body. The meteor is based on the Chinese meteor hammer, a bolo-like weapon made from stones and rope. Appr ... Read »


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    • Perch (equilibristic)

    • The perch is an equilibristic balancing act where one performer balances atop a pole that is being balanced by another performer. Each perch pole has a loop at the top into which the performer may insert either a hand or a foot in order to perform a variety of tricks while hanging down from the loop. During the whole r ... Read »


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    • Plate spinning

    • Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off. Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect, in the same way a top stays upright while spinning. Spinning plates are sometimes gimmicked, to help keep the plates on the poles. Ma ... Read »


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    • Ringmaster (circus)

    • A ringmaster, or ringmistress or sometimes a ringleader, is a significant performer in the many circuses. Most often seen in traditional circuses, the ringmaster is a master of ceremonies that introduces the circus acts to the audience. A ringmaster introduces the various acts in a circus show and guides the audience ... Read »


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    • Risley (circus act)

    • A Risley or Risley act (also antipode or antipodism) is any circus acrobalance posture where the base is lying down on their back, supporting one or more flyers with their hands, feet and/or other parts of the body; spinning a person or object using only one's feet. The act is named after Richard Risley Carlisle (1814 ... Read »


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    • Rolling globe

    • The rolling globe is a circus skill in which the performer balances atop a large sphere, sometimes taller than the performer. Various gymnastic or juggling stunts may be performed while the performer moves and controls the position of the ball with the feet and/or hands. ... Read »


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    • Roman ladders

    • Roman Ladders is an equilibristic circus skill where four or more people perform acrobatics on specially made ladders. The people in the middle push the ladders out, while the people on the outside perform various poses and tricks. ... Read »


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    • Russian bar

    • The Russian bar (or Russian barre) is a circus act which combines the gymnastic skills of the balance beam, the rebound tempo skills of trampoline and the swing handstands skills of the uneven bars and the parallel bars. The bar (or barre) itself is a flexible vaulting pole around 4 meters long, typically made of fibre ... Read »


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    • Russian swing

    • A Russian swing is a large, floor-mounted swing which is sometimes used in circus performances to make impressive high acrobatic jumps. Unlike ordinary playground swings, a Russian swing has steel bars instead of ropes, and its swinging platform is able to rotate 360 degrees around the horizontal bar from which it is ... Read »


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    • Shallow diving

    • Shallow diving is an extreme sport, whereby enthusiasts attempt to dive from the greatest height into the shallowest depth of water, without sustaining injury. It is typically associated with travelling circuses along with the strongman, performing animals, clowns and other such attractions. Divers aim to hit the wate ... Read »


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    • Sideshow

    • In America, a sideshow is an extra, secondary production associated with a circus, carnival, fair, or other such attraction. There are four main types of classic sideshow attractions: * A "Girl Show" was sometimes offered in which women were the primary attraction. These could range from the revue (such as a "Bro ... Read »


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    • Slacklining

    • Slacklining refers to the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors. Slacklining is similar to slack rope walking and tightrope walking. Slacklines differ from tightwires and tightropes in the type of material used and the amount of tension applied during ... Read »


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    • Spanish web

    • The Spanish web is an aerial circus skill, similar in appearance and style to corde lisse. The name refers to both the apparatus and the performance. The apparatus itself is akin to a larger kernmantle rope. Unbraided cotton/polyster blend rope are pulled through a soft, round, 2 inch in diameter cotton sleeve (a ... Read »


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    • Static trapeze

    • Static trapeze, also known as fixed trapeze, is a type of circus art performed on the trapeze. In contrast to the other forms of trapeze, on static trapeze the bars and ropes mainly stay in place. Most often, the static trapeze is about 1.5 feet wide and the bar is generally 2 inches in diameter. The ropes are at leas ... Read »


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    • Stilts

    • Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a height above the ground. Stilts for walking are poles equipped with platforms for the feet to stand on and can be used, depending on the design, with straps to attach them to the users legs or be held in place by the hands of the user ... Read »


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    • Strongman (strength athlete)

    • In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength (before strength sports were codified into weightlifting, powerlifting etc., becoming actual athletic competitions) or similar circus performers who displayed feats of strength. Strongmen would perform various feats of strength such as th ... Read »


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    • Sword swallowing

    • Sword swallowing is a skill in which the performer passes a sword through the mouth and down the esophagus to the stomach. This feat is not swallowing in the traditional sense; the natural processes that constitute swallowing do not take place, but are repressed in order to keep the passage from the mouth to the stomac ... Read »


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    • Target girl

    • In circus and vaudeville acts, a target girl is a female assistant in "impalement" acts such as knife throwing, archery or sharpshooting. The assistant stands in front of a target board or is strapped to a moving board and the impalement artist throws knives or shoots projectiles so as to hit the board but miss the ass ... Read »


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    • Teeterboard

    • The teeterboard (or Korean plank) is an acrobatic apparatus that resembles a playground seesaw. The strongest teeterboards are made of oak (usually 9 feet in length). The board is divided in the middle by a fulcrum made of welded steel. At each end of the board is a square padded area, where a performer stands on an in ... Read »


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    • Tightrope walking

    • Tightrope walking, also called funambulism, is the skill of walking along a thin wire or rope. It has a long tradition in various countries and is commonly associated with the circus. Other skills similar to tightrope walking include slack rope walking and slacklining. Acrobats maintain their balance by positionin ... Read »


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    • Toss juggling

    • Toss juggling is the form of juggling which is most recognisable as 'juggling'. Toss juggling can be used as: a performing art, a sport, a form of exercise, as meditation, a recreational pursuit or hobby. In toss juggling, objects — such as balls, bean bags, rings, clubs, etc. — are thrown or tossed into the ... Read »


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    • Trampoline

    • A trampoline is a device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched over a steel frame using many coiled springs. People bounce on trampolines for recreational and competitive purposes. The fabric that users bounce on (commonly known as the "bounce mat" or "trampoline bed") is not elastic in itself; the el ... Read »


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    • Trapeze

    • A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances. Trapeze acts may be static, spinning (rigged from a single point), swinging or flying, and may be performed solo, double, triple or as a group act. It is officially the last ... Read »


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    • Trick riding

    • Trick riding refers to the act of performing stunts while riding a horse, such as the rider standing upright on a galloping horse. Other stunts might include hanging upside down off of the side of the horse while attached to a strap or jumping on and off a galloping horse. Horse riding stunts have been performed in ma ... Read »


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    • Trick roping

    • Trick roping is an entertainment or competitive art involving the spinning of a lasso also known as a lariat or a "rope." It is particularly associated with wild west shows or western arts in the United States. The lasso is a well known-tool of American cowboys, who developed rope spinning and throwing skills in using ... Read »


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    • Twirling

    • Twirling is a form of object manipulation where an object is twirled by one or two hands, the fingers or by other parts of the body. Twirling practice manipulates the object in circular or near circular patterns. It can also be done indirectly by the use of another object or objects as in the case of devil stick manipu ... Read »


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    • Unicycle

    • A unicycle is a vehicle that touches the ground with only one wheel. The most common variation has a frame with a saddle, and has a pedal-driven direct drive. Unicycling is practiced professionally in circuses, by street performers, and in festivals and as a hobby. Unicycles have also been used to create new sports suc ... Read »


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    • Ursari

    • The Ursari (generally read as "bear leaders" or "bear handlers"; from the Romanian urs, meaning "bear"; singular: ursar; Bulgarian: урсари, ursari) or Richinara are the traditionally nomadic occupational group of animal trainers among the Romani people. An endogamous category originally drawing the b ... Read »


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    • Wall flip

    • A wall flip is an acrobatic move, similar to a back flip or back tuck done while running up a wall. This is the first wallflip variation, and is the easiest. The flipper runs toward a wall and plants his dominate foot on the wall and then pushes off the wall and begins to flip. This is considered to be the standard w ... Read »


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    • Wall of death

    • The Wall of Death, motordrome, silodrome or Well of Death (aka "Maut ka Kuaa", India) is a carnival sideshow featuring a silo- or barrel-shaped wooden cylinder, typically ranging from 20 to 36 feet (6.1 to 11.0 m) in diameter and made of wooden planks, inside which motorcyclists, or the drivers of miniature automobi ... Read »


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    • Wheel gymnastics

    • Wheel gymnastics (German: ) is a form of gymnastics that originated in Germany. Wheel gymnasts do exercises in a large wheel known as the Rhönrad, gymnastics wheel, gym wheel, or German wheel, in the beginning also known as ayro wheel, aero wheel, and Rhon rod. The wheel was invented in 1925 by Otto Feick in Schà ... Read »


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    • Wheel of death (impalement arts)

    • The Wheel of Death, in the context of the impalement arts, is a classic moving target stunt sometimes performed by knife throwers. The thrower's assistant or target girl is secured to a large, generally circular, target board that is free to spin about its centre point. As the target rotates the thrower must execute a ... Read »


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    • Wheel of Death (Space Wheel)

    • The Wheel of Death, in the context of acrobatic circus arts, is a large rotating apparatus on which performers carry out synchronized acrobatic skills. The "wheel" is actually a large space frame beam with hooped tracks at either end, within which the performers can stand. As the performers run around on either the ins ... Read »


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    • Yo-yo

    • Yo-yo

      A yo-yo (also spelled yoyo) is a toy which in its simplest form is an object consisting of an axle connected to two disks, and a length of string looped around the axle, similar to a slender . It is played by holding the free end of the string known as the handle (usually by inserting one finger into a slip knot) allow ... Read »


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