What is Social Circus?

Social Circus is the application of the art and culture of the circus to help address social issues such as social isolation, impact of trauma, violence in communities and/or lack of access to arts and cultural activity.

In 2016, the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) announced a network of recognized Social Circus programs. Amy Christian, Artistic Director of Wise Fool New Mexico, was one of the national consultants that helped shape the program criteria. Wise Fool was among the first four companies recognized for their Social Circus programs.

Check out this inspiring presentation by Amy Christian, Wise Fool’s CoFounder and former Director, about how theatre has the power to ignite social change:


How does Social Circus “change lives”?

Circus develops physically confident, healthy, individuals who understand the capabilities and limits of their bodies.

Circus presents adaptable challenges for everyone. Students with all different body types and physical abilities can identify and work toward realistic, ambitious personal goals leading to feeling of confidence and success.


Circus fosters human connection and belonging.

In the circus we must rely on each other to keep us safe and supported often through scary and challenging moments. Thus circus students learn to ask for and give help, developing positive relationships and communication skills.


Afterschool Fools
Afterschool Fools

Circus builds tenacity and resilience.

Circus provides a safe container for the repeated practice of risk taking, failure and recovery. Students experience the rewards of focused work towards a personal goal, developing perseverance and enabling them to transcend their own and society’s assumptions. By supporting ongoing creativity, invention, and effort, circus teaches us to reach beyond what we thought possible.


 Circus encourages civic engagement and citizenship.


Circus works in a circle, where everyone has a voice, diversity is affirmed, and everyone has an important job to do. The work of creating circus mirrors constructive engagement in community. Participants learn how the group succeeds or fails by the actions of each person. The experience of performing, of being seen, of giving of themselves for their troupe and audience, raises our understanding of our own power to do good, as well as the community’s perception of individuals as contributors of unique and valuable gifts.

Interested in reading more about Social Circus? Click thru the links below to articles and websites with more info!

Circus Works! The Case for Social Circus

American Circus Educators Overview of Social Circus

Social Circus impact in PE classes

Social Circus prevents Youth Violence 

What Social Circus programs does Wise Fool offer in Santa Fe?

 We bring our Circus Comes to School Program into public schools reaching over 600 youth annually.

Youth participants from Circus Comes to School at EJ Martinez, 2016
Circus Comes to School at EJ Martinez

For more info on Circus Comes to School   – where and what we teach in the schools and how to bring Wise Fool to your school Click Here

Wise Fool currently offers Circus Comes to School at:

El Camino Real Academy

Amy Biehl Community School

Capital High School

EJ Martinez Elementary

Carlos Gilbert Elementary

Monte del Sol Mentorships

Masters Program at SFCC

New Mexico School for the Deaf

Santa Fe Indian School

Ramirez Thomas Elementary



Our TeenBUST program is a two week summer intensive for underserved middle school girls.

TeenBUST is free to participants and teaches circus skills along with workshops designed specifically for the social issues faced by 12 to 14 year old girls. The intensive creates a path to discovering strength, voice, and connection in a time of life that presents great physical and emotional challenges. For more info on TeenBUST  – what we teach, who we partner with, and how youth become nominated to attend Click Here

Wise Fool is also at the forefront of developing and offering Social Circus programs for adults – check out more about our BUST program here click here.