From sword swallowers to acrobats, contortionists, and clowns: New research to help prevent injury in circus artists

Cirque arts are becoming more popular around the globe, but knowledge of injuries and illnesses in performers is limited.

Circadian arts can take on many different forms: professional companies, free-lance performances, schools, training centers for recreational circuses, social circuses, and physical education.

The International Olympic Committee Consensus Group in 2020 proposed a standard guideline to record and report injuries and illnesses and recommended that sports develop sport-specific extension statements.

A group of international circus arts researchers, including Dr. Joanna Nicholas, a sports scientist and performing artist at Edith Cowan University’s Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts(WAAPA), have formed a group to create a circus-arts extension that can be used in conjunction with the IOC guidelines.

The circus arts extension statement is a standardized framework that allows researchers and healthcare professionals to plan studies and keep records of the care given to circus performers.

A wide range of disciplines and bold creativity pose a unique risk for injury.

Dr Nicholas says circus artists often have high physical requirements, including strength, flexibility, agility, and motor coordination.

She said, “However circus arts are unique in that they have an element of risk that is not present in many other sports or performing arts.”

The ability to create new tricks from a creative perspective is a key competency. It involves imagining, creating, and performing them to achieve an engaging and unique artistic outcome.

Dr Nicholas explained to us that circus arts is a broad term and includes many disciplines. Artists often train in several fields.

She said that disciplines include aerial acrobatics, ground acrobatics, manipulation (e.g., juggling), clowning, and music. Each has its physical requirements, as well as specific injuries.

Compare apples to apples.

Dr Nicholas stated that the differences in methodologies and injury definitions between existing studies made it difficult for researchers in the circus to compare or combine findings.

She said, “It is like comparing or combining apples and pears.”

Dr Nicholas says the new guidelines will allow data sets from different circus studies to combine and compare injury patterns.

She said, “Cir,cus Researchers will be able now to combine or compare apple with apple.”

The research team consisted of the following: Samuel Merritt University, Artletic Science, National Institute of Circus Arts, Swinburne University of Technology, and Absolute Physiotherapy. Edith Cowan University. Codarts Rotterdam University of the Arts. Performing Artist Athlete Research Lab. Erasmus MC University Medical Centre Rotterdam. Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab. Centre de recherche, d’innovation et de Transfert en Arts du Cirque. Ecole nationale de cirque

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