Throughout this document there are references to videos which you will find here.

It is recommended to do a physical warm up/stretch before exercise. If you are not used to how to warm up, there is a video called ‘warm up’ which will lead you through some stretches.

These exercises are useful for both those who can and cannot handstand yet, as they all help train different aspects of handstands, from shape, to being able to lift. If this set of exercises is too much to do in one block to start with you can split it in to two or three sections, trying to make sure you do all of the exercises within a week.

Shoulder flexibility is very important in handstands, partner acro and acrobatics. You need to be able to have your arms by your ears, arms straight, and have a straight back without the ribs flaring. Therefore, you should start and finish with shoulder flexibility exercises. See videos 23, 24, and 25. If your shoulders are stiff you should try and do these five days a week.

1. Wrist strengthening video 17 (10-20 raises) or video 18

2. Press ups – aiming to build to between 10 and 20 video 19

3. Handstand plank on back – 30 seconds video 21. Flattening the back into the ground, tucking the pelvis in, squeezing the gluts, ribs pressing down/flattening. External rotation in the shoulders (turn hands/palm towards each other, and past toward the floor). Arms touching the ears.

4. Handstand endurance – one minute. This can be done against the wall, stomach or back to the wall as shown in videos 01 and 02. Or if you can handstand you can do this without a wall. If you cannot do one minute in one go, do a total of 60 seconds in however many attempts you need and try to reduce this.

5. Straddle and pike leg lifts – 3 x 10 seconds in both straddle and pike. Video 10 demonstrates this.

6. 90 degree wall exercise – video 03 If you sit with your back fully against the wall and legs out straight, then reach forward and place your hands so the finger-tips are at the heal of your foot – this is where your hands should be for the exercise. If it really hard to hold the 90 degree angle without moving try to build up to 3 x 10 seconds. If you can hold the shape, then move the shoulders away from the wall and back to straight as shown in video 03. Aim for 10.

7. horizontal Elephant Lift – 10 reps. See video 13.

8. Headstand Lifts – 5 tuck, 5 straddle, 5 pike (continuous if possible) See video 11.

9. slide up to right angle or handstand – between 5 and 10 see video 07.

10. Handstand walk ins –Build up to 10. See video 06. You might only be able to do one at at a time to start with. If so, try to do 3 x what you can. Then build to total of 10 in a few attempts, then reducing this till you can do 10 in one go. (These are hard).

11. Handstand plank laid on the stomach – 30 seconds video 22. Flattening the back, tucking the pelvis in, squeezing the gluts, ribs pressing down/flattening, belly button off the floor. External rotation in the shoulders (turn hands/palm towards each other, and past toward the ceiling). Arms touching the ears.

12. Pull up from straddle – 10 reps. See video 09.

13. Handstand or downward dog press ups – max amount up to 10. Video 20.

14. practice kicking into a Handstand. If you are scared about going over, it is ok to use a wall, but always aim to not hit the wall. If you cannot arrive in a handstand try exercises in videos 04 and 05 to help.

15. practice jumping into a Handstand – tuck and straddle. If you are scared about going over, it is ok to use a wall, but always aim to not hit the wall.

To Finish: Shoulder flexibility videos 23, 24 and 25.

This class will mostly be focusing on ‘floorial’ with a few hanging exercises added in (if you have equipment for this).

Please note: Do not take any silly risks, you are in charge of your own safety and your body.

SAFETY TIP: if you are using or hanging from any non-rated equipment then this is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. We are not responsible for your lack of research into or understanding of the materials you are using. Be sensible; if using pull up bars or any other hanging equipment please avoid inversions (i.e. ‘head down’ movements) unless you are totally sure the equipment, tree, door, sheet, whatever is secure and will hold MORE THAN your weight. Use common sense: test it safely first, stay low, use mats and a spotter if possible.


You will need:

· A level floor indoors.

· Either A tupperware lid or box that your feet fit on, or a towel if you have a hard, slidey floor.

· Two chairs.

· A yoga block and cushion, or if no block, two cushions.

· A broom handle or towel.

· Something you can put your hands under to brace against/use for resistance, either a heavy chest of drawers, a heavy book case or bed.

· Pull up bar (if you have one, if not don’t worry).

Before class begins, spend 10 minutes mobilising all your joints from head to toe, then complete the 10 minute warm-up circuit below:

45 seconds star jumps 15 seconds break 45 seconds squat (hold back flat against the wall. Make sure thighs are parallel to the ground) 15 seconds break 45 seconds burpees 15 seconds break 45 seconds lunges 15 seconds break 45 seconds ab crunches 15 seconds break 45 seconds running high knees 15 seconds break 45 seconds push ups (elbows tucked in to the sides) 15 seconds break 45 seconds handstand against the wall 15 seconds break 45 seconds v-sits 15 seconds break 45 seconds arch position lying on your stomach 15 seconds break

Shoulder warm up – I Y T W O: Lying on your front face down in a straight position, forehead on the floor to keep neck long. Repeat whole sequence below: 3 x I shape – Arms above the head thumbs to ceiling, keeping shoulders down the back, lift your arms 5 x Y shape – Arms out to 45 degrees, keeping shoulders down the back, lift arms and squeeze shoulder blades 5 x T shape – Arms out to 90 degrees, lift arms and squeeze shoulders blades together 5 x W Shape-Bend elbows so hands in line with shoulders, Lift arms and squeeze shoulder blades together 5 x O Shape-Place the back of your hands on your very lower back, lift elbows and squeeze shoulder blades together

For this section you will need two tupperware (plastic tub) lids or boxes if you have a carpet, or two towels if you have a hard floor. You need to be able to slide your feet around whilst in plank position.

1. Floor Tucks – Into plank long arms, feet on tupperware lid or towel. Keeping your shoulders over the hands and with outlifting your bum, pull the knees in towards the chest to the elbows and think about rounding the back. Then push the feet out long again into plank. Repeat 10 x

2. Bar tucks – Hang fully – Tuck the knees up to the chest, then pull through the shoulder and keep curling through the abs to touch the knees to the elbows, keeping your heels to your bum. Start to slowly lower down to hang. As you lower through the shoulders, keep the knees up for as long as possible, then lower legs back down to straight. 1×7 OR on your back if no bar – Lying on your back on the floor holding onto chair legs or someone’s ankles, arms above your head. Arms straight. Have your feet flexed, engage into a dish position trying to keep your lower back imprinted on the floor. Draw the knees up towards the chest keeping your heels towards your bum, allow the spine to peel up off the floor so you are resting on your shoulders. Slowly lower down through the spine and peel your back down onto the floor, keeping your knees to chest. keep the dish position as you send your legs out long back into dish. This is a slow exercise.

3. V-sit with broom handle or towel. A solid object is better for this. Lie on your back with broom handle over your head holding it with hands shoulder width apart. V-sit and hold. Suck your feet in towards the bar and stretch your arms past your feet so that they pass the bar. Slide the bar down the back of your legs and lower into dish. V-sit and slide the bar up your legs and back over your head lowering back into dish. Repeat 10 x. To make it easier bend your legs.

4. Bar Leg lifts – Hang fully. This time straight leg raises toes to bar (have a spotter if you need) Lower your legs as slowly as possible. If this is too difficult tuck your knees to your elbows then straighten legs to lower down slowly 1×7. OR if you have no bar: Leg Lifts on your back – Lying on your back on the floor holding onto chair legs or someone’s ankles with your hands above your head. Arms straight. Engage into a dish position trying to keep your back imprinted on the floor. Start to lift the legs, focus on keeping the ribs down and connected. Fold the legs in towards your face, trying to keep the pelvis low, really working into the pike fold. The pelvis may lift a little depending on your flexibility and range of movement. Lower legs back down slowly into dish position.

5. Plank Side lifts – In plank position with feet in tupperware or on towel, pull knees in towards right elbow and hips towards the left in a side tuck position, then back out to straight plank. Then pull knees in towards left elbow and hips towards right elbow in a side tuck on the other side, then push back out to straight. Focus on rounding the back and engaging the obliques (side muscles) as much as possible on the pull in. 10 in total.

6. Shoulder stand tension holds – arms under a bed, heavy chest of drawers or heavy book case. Keep your arms straight and roll up into a shoulder stand, keep tension through the arms as you gently lean your body out staying in a dish position. You should feel tension through your shoulders and lats. Hold for 5 seconds. Take 5 seconds to lower back down to dish rolling through the vertebrae one at a time. Repeat 5x

7. Dips – 2 chairs side by side so your body can fit through the middle. Place a hand on each chair and push your feet out in front of you. Bend your elbows and lower your hips down to the floor then push back up. To make this more difficult tuck your knees to your chest so your feet are off the floor, lower through your arms and push back up. 1x 20 with feet on floor. 1 x 5-10 without feet on the floor.

8. Hocks pulses with pillow – Into a lunge position (kneeling on one knee with other leg bent in front to support), Make sure the back knee is directly under the hip. Have a pillow under this knee. Make sure you have good posture, straight back, square hips and pelvis tucked under. Place a block or a pillow between the hamstring and calf muscle of the back leg and pulse the heel towards the bum 15x. Make sure that the front of the hip stays open. Repeat on the other leg.

9. Finish with 3 rounds of 50 dish leg kicks – lying on your back in Dish, head heavy in your hands and elbows out, engaging your abdominals to lift shoulders and both feet off the floor keeping your back imprinted on the ground. Lift one leg up to 90 degrees then switch legs 50x in a quick motion, tapping the heel on the floor each time.

10. 20 squats – have your feet hip width apart, back straight, squat down making sure your knees are tracking over your feet (not turning in or out). Push back up to straight and squeeze your glutes as you do so.

11. 10 wide arm push ups – Either full push ups or on your knees. Make sure your body stays in a strong plank position the whole time.

12. Spend at least 15 minutes stretching out the whole body.

Good work!

Robin Dale created a one-ball juggling tutorial series for lockdown that you may enjoy.

Physical Theatre Resource Guide from tutor George Fuller

Commedia Dell’Arte Is a very important historical form of physical theatre to be aware of. These videos from the National Theatre give a good overview of the form. I have my own critique of the use of terms like ‘universal characters’ and the pyramid structure/patriarchal structure of the presentation however it is useful to see…

More Contemporary. Reading: Viewpoints Ann Bogart & Tina Landau written in 2004:

Companies and Artists to make yourself aware of, as they have influenced my teaching. DV8 Wendy Houstoun Nigel Charnock George Carl Avner The Eccentric Marcel Marceau Animal movement training. Animal walk styles for strength and flexibility, co-ordination.

This is a list of recommended books for the Context 1 module you will be studying as part of the first year of the FdA Course. We do not expect you to read everything on this list before commencing the course. However, if there is a particular title or two that takes your fancy, it would be a great idea to start to get familiar with some of the ideas you will be approaching during the first year of your course. If you are considering purchasing books, shop around to get the best deal. Academic books can often be picked up cheaply second-hand. Remember that e-books can also be a cheap option. Maybe see what you can borrow from a library – how about trying to get your hands on at least one title from each section?

Any work you do in advance will pay dividends when you really get your teeth into investigating how to think at degree level, the history of circus, and how to keep a journal of reflective practice.


Critical Theory:

Auslander, Philip (2008) Theory for Performance Studies. London, Routledge.

Barry, Peter (2009) Beginning Theory. Manchester University Press.

Bakhtin, Mikhail, (1984) Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press

Counsell, Colin & Laurie Wolf eds. (2001) Performance Analysis. London, Routledge.

Edgar, Andrew & Peter Sedgewick eds. (1999) Key Concepts in Cultural Theory. London, Routledge.

Goodman, Lizbeth & Jane de Gay eds. (1998) The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance. London, Routledge.

Pitches, Jonathon and Popat, Sita (eds.) (2011) Performance Perspectives: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Schechner, Richard (2002) Performance Studies; An Introduction. London, Routledge.


History of Performance

Alighieri, Dante. (2008) The Divine Comedy. OUP Oxford.

Artaud, Antonin. (2013) The Theatre and its Double. Alma Classics.

Beacham, Richard. (2011) Adolphe Appia. Routledge.

Beckett, Samuel. (2006) The Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett. Faber & Faber.

Brecht, Bertolt. (1978) On Theatre (Plays and Playwrights). Methuen Drama.

Brook, Peter (2008) The Empty Space. Penguin Classics.

Craig, Edward Gordon. (2008) On the Art of the Theatre. Routledge.

Grotowski, Jerzy. (1975) Towards a Poor Theatre. Methuen Drama.

Marinetti, Filippo. (2014) The Futurist Cookbook. Penguin Classics.

Meyerhold, Vsevolod. (1969) Meyerhold on Theatre. Methuen.

Moréas (2001) Symbolist Manifesto. Available here.  (Accessed: 5 October 2016).

Rudlin, John. (2009) Jacques Copeaus (Directors in Perspective). Cambridge University Press.

Southern, John. (1998) Fools & Jesters at the English Court. Gloucestershire: Sutton publishing Limited.

Welsford, Enid (1966) The Fool. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.


History of Circus

Albrecht, Ernest J. (1995) The New American Circus. Florida: The University Press of Florida.

Albrecht, Ernest J. (2006) Contemporary Circus. Maryland: The University Press of Florida

Assael, Brenda. 2005. The Circus and Victorian Society. USA: The rector and visitors of the University of Virginia.

Davis, Janet M. (2002) The Circus Age. USA: The University of North Carolina Press.

Hammarstrom, David L. (2008) Fall of the Big Top. North Carolina: McFarland & company inc.


Reflective Practice:

Bassot, Barbara (2013) The Reflective Journal. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Evans, Mark (2007) Another Kind of Writing: Reflective Practice and Creative Journals in the Performing Arts. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol.1, No.1, Intellect.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York, Basic Books.

Moon, Jennifer. (2004) A Handbook of Reflective Practice and Experiential Learning. London, Routledge.

Moon, Jennifer (2006) Learning Journals; A Handbook for Reflective Practice. London, Routledge.

Progoff, Ira (1992) At a Journal Workshop; Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Creative Ability. New York, Tarcher Putnam.


Study Skills

Northedge, Andrew. (1990) The Good Study Guide. The Open University Press.