• CamCircus

So, You're Creating Your First Routine?

Kat is a self-confessed performance junkie. She will take any opportunity to take to the floor or the air! In 2017, she performed in 3 routines in the Autumn show! What a stage hog!

Here are some of her handy tips if you are starting your first routine.

There is a multitude of ways to start a routine. The following are from my own personal experiences for act creation and these can work for both aerial and ground work. I have tried to narrow it down to some key things. Not in any particular order… here we go!

Imagine that I'm telling these people how to create a routine.

You’ve got the Moves

Some people like to start by thinking what moves they would like to do. But usually, there’s just so many. How do you pick? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Start by making a list of moves you can do quite well. During training, practise doing a few moves in a sequence. If you have trouble picking, write the moves on individual pieces of paper and pick them out randomly. You may find there are straightforward ways to doing the sequence or you can try creative ways into the moves. Then string these sequences together. You can chop, change, rearrange any part of this long sequence. Ask your circus friends.

You WILL want to cram everything you know into your first routine, you won’t be able to do it. Trust me. Or give it a try and let me know that I’m right 😛The fewer moves, the better.

Tip 1: It’s nice to have sections at different levels (heights) on your apparatus, and don’t forget the floor and space around you also counts.

Tip 2: You don't have to constantly be doing moves. See performance quality section below.

Tip 3: Best to write all of your sequences down or film yourself. Don’t worry, you can always change the moves. Remember, it’s YOUR routine!

Here are my notes for my first trapeze routine. I made a list of moves I knew and then a move I can get to from the first one.

My original notes for my first trapeze routine. My final routine had only 25% of what I had written down here lol.

Music choice There are others who like to find possible music choices to get inspiration for their routine and start from there. Some of you with vivid imaginations can visualise moves you would like to do at certain points of songs. That’s great! You can have lyrics/timestamps written down on one side of a piece of paper and possible moves on the other. You will need to practise these moves/sequences to see if you can physically do them in the time you wanted.

Maybe you want to pick your music after you have a good section of moves mapped out and then play with the sequences with the music. Then you can add to/change these moves after a few goes.

Tip 1: Pick something you really enjoy/are passionate about/gives you the feels.

Tip 2: You will listen to your song many many times, so hope you won’t get sick of it!

Tip 3: If you do, you can always change it. (I changed my music like 5 times for my first routine, only to pick my first choice again).

Performance quality

Now this is the nitty-gritty stuff that my dance teacher taught me over 10 years ago! You don’t have to do all of these but pick a few to focus on once you’ve got moves to music.


Make eye contact and/or smile to the audience when it allows. This brings the audience into your space, your routine and brings them on the journey with you.

Try not to look at your equipment too much (It's still there I promise!).

You can use your gaze to lead the audience to look at something else #gazefordayz


If your music choice has words where you can use gestures such as point, wave, smile, head roll, kick etc, you can add that in (or even if your music choice doesn't).

Quality of movement

Doing all your movements at a similar speed can be a bit monotonous, try varying the speed of different sections/moves such as slowly picking up the tails of the silks and then rapidly throwing them over your shoulder.

Me being very dramatic.

Holding poses

Holding some of your poses allows the audience to take in what you are doing and appreciate your hard work. It also allows you to ‘rest’ or catch a breath and take up time in your music. If you're holding a pose and want claps (?) [whatdya mean? you always want clapzz], hold it for much longer than you think! (2 or 3 seconds!) Pausing and stillness work great! Ask people around you to be your audience to get a feeling for what it's like to be clapped at and cheered on in you key poses.

What feeling/character/idea you want to portray

Not every routine needs a story. A well performed routine allows the audience to develop their own story and feelings as they watch you. To do this, keep in mind that your sequences should have a feeling(s) or motif behind them such as light and airy, heavy and slow.

Sometimes, your music choice can lead you to portray a particular emotion, character or story; and that can direct how you do your movements.

What am I thinking here?

Conquering the nerves

Believe me when I say I still get very nervous before I perform. Me! I know right?! The one who loves to perform! We all get nervous and we all deal with it in different ways. You will be surrounded by the most supportive group of people. You will be fine! The adrenaline will kick in and before you know it, it's done!

Practise. Practise. Practise!

Record yourself do some of the sequences. See if it's how you've imagined it. Have the wonderful people at CCC watch your routine (you can ask just one or two to start with) and get their feedback for you. Remember you are likely to be your worst critic, your audience will be in awe of you moving through the air!

Tip 1: Listen to your music until you know it inside and out.

Tip 2: Rehearse in front of a small number of people first, then increase the group number

Tip 3: If things don’t go to plan, you can try to improvise (no one knows your routine but you) or you can finish your act there (which is totally fine!). Improvising doesn’t always come naturally to everyone, so it’s a good idea to practise that as well. Pop on some random music and do your thing!

Have fun!

I hope you all remember your first performance, however big or small it may be. It’s such a wonderful feeling to perform in front of friends, family and strangers. You are doing some crazy things up/down there and you should be so proud of yourself!

When in doubt - jazz hands! (or emerge out of a Trex costume, obvs you'll need to do something else coz I've taken it).

Like I said in the beginning, these are just the starting points. There is so much more I could go into but if you’re new to performance, I think getting up on that stage and having a go is the best thing. And then, you can start to explore other ways to choreograph and perform for your next routine. Remember, you have the wonderful people at CCC who can lend a helping hand if you need it! #cccfamily

I cannot wait to see what you all create! Happy routine making!

xx Kat

Photos by Duncan Grisby except for notes which were expertly taken by me. You wish you had mah skillz.

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