20th Anniversary Exhibition

The Ikaros Group 1997

In the picture you can see the Ikaros group (founded by circus performer Aino Heikkinen), during a performance in Itäkeskus, in 1997. At the age of seven, Corinne Linder joined the Ikaros group, and her mother, Martina Linder, became fascinated by circus as an art form. The group, which consisted mainly of Russian speaking youngsters, used to perform in shopping malls, and during the summer they gave performances in the street. Later on, the Ikaros group started collaborating with a circus school in Espoo. When the group was no longer offered intensive training, Martina Linder decided to create her own circus school in order to allow the youngsters to continue practising and performing. This was how Circus Helsinki’s journey began.

PHOTO: Ljubov Lössakova
IN THE PHOTO: Aino Heikkinen, Jelena Lössakova, Katerina Repponen, Olga Kondrikova (nyk. Olia Vahtola), Liikka Nikolaeva (nyk. Honkajuuri) & Jacintha Damström istuu penkillä

Circus Helsinki Was Founded 2001


In 2001, the circus, which was initially called Young Circus association r.f., was founded at a meeting in the public library on Rikhardinkatu. Martina Linder, the founder and director of Circus Helsinki, was working as a lawyer at the time. The circus school attracted more and more pupils, and in 2007 Martina Linder started working full-time for the school.

During the early years, the pupils’ mothers played an active role in the running of the school. Jelena Lössakova’s mother, Ljubov Lössakova made the costumes, Elina Vessonen’s mother, Iina Vessonen (currently Dahl) was in charge of billing, and Jacintha Damström’s mother, Stefanie Sanneman-Damström helped out during the performances.

PHOTO 1: Cassandra Linder
IN THE PHOTO: Martina Linder

The School’s First Advertisement and the First Commissioned Shows 2002


In the beginning when the marketing budget was very tight, the unknown circus school struggled to get commissions. The pupils’ mothers and other family members were recruited as reinforcements. They made appearances as clowns, and even if they weren’t the most professional performers, they conquered the hearts of the audiences with their spontaneity and enthusiasm.

PHOTO 1: Martina Linder
IN THE PHOTO: Corinne Linder

PHOTO 2: Tuntematon
IN THE PHOTO: Tatiana Litonius, Martina Linder, Stephanie Sannemann-Damström & Ljubov Lössakova

Performing at a Circus Festival for the First Time 2002

When Circus Helsinki was founded, the school only had seven pupils. In 2002, when the school performed at the Finnish Youth Circus Associations Festival in Turku, the number of pupils had grown to ten, and the whole school almost fitted into one car. This group later formed Circus Helsinki’s show group. Despite having only ten pupils, Circus Helsinki performed eleven acts at the festival. The audience was surprised both by the number of acts and by how talented and versatile the little troupe was. Circus Helsinki won one gold medal (foot juggling), two silver medals (icarian games and contortion) and got two honourable mentions (hand balancing and balancing). These achievements gave the group self-confidence and faith in the future. These were only the first of many national and international medals and awards. For a full list of the school’s achievements, please check out the media wall on the first floor.

PHOTO: Martina Linder
2002 – THE STUDENTS: Corinne Linder, Elina Vessonen, Jacintha Damström, Jelena Lössakova, Jerina Hintikka (nyk. Jerdani), Karin Paimets, Katerina Repponen, Liikka Nikolaeva (nyk. Honkajuuri), Olga Kondrikova (nyk.Olia Vahtola) & Senja Korkkula (nyk. Pihko)

The First Teacher 2003

Tatiana Litonius was Circus Helsinki’s first teacher. During the early years, she was the school’s most important collaborator. Tatiana Litonius taught on a voluntary basis, as often as she could. The rest of the time, the students practised on their own during supervised training sessions, where they also learnt from each other. Martina Linder, who had founded the circus school, directed the performances and the pupils’ mothers acted as support. Circus Helsinki eventually employed more teachers, but during the first years of the school’s existence, it was difficult to find full-time teachers, as there was very little circus arts teacher training available in Finland at the time.

PHOTO: Tuntematon
IN THE PHOTO: Tatiana Litonius

The School Is Renamed 2004

The school was renamed Circus Helsinki in 2004. The original name, Young Circus, had proven to be difficult for a Finnish speaking audience to remember. The new name also captured the school’s aspirations for the future. In the picture you can see one of the first advertisements with the school’s new name.

PHOTO: Nina Caballero
IN THE PHOTO: Martina Linder & Pekka Laamanen esityksessä The Magic Box

The First Training Facilities 2004

During the first five years of its existence, Circus Helsinki didn’t have its own training facilities. Practice took place in the eurythmics room at the Rudolf Steiner school in Helsinki, in the tiny computer storage room at the cultural centre Caisa, and on the premises of Pukinmäen sirkuskoulu (Pukinmäki circus school). Teaching also took place at Töölö sports hall, at the Olympic Stadium and at Woltti. The lack of permanent training facilities created a series of problems. The equipment had to be transported from place to place, and before each training session all the aerial equipment had to be assembled and then disassembled at the end of the session. It was also impossible to rig safety harnesses.

PHOTO: Helsinki Info -lehti 2005
IN THE PHOTO: Aino Savolainen, Susanna Kujala, Lilli Dahlberg, Martina Linder, Vera Sultan & Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby)

The First Shows 2004


Circus Helsinki’s first shows were called The Magic Box and Super LilliThe Magic Box told the story of a little girl who found a music box that could transport her to the magical world of the circus. Super Lilli related the adventures of a girl who was convinced that her cape would give her superpowers.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Martina Linder
PHOTO 1: Tuntematon
IN THE PHOTO: Martina Linder, Senja Korkkula (nyk. Pihko), Corinne Linder, Elina Vessonen, Jacintha Damström, Vivi Dahlberg, Terhi Vessonen, Sonia Haga, Lilli Dahlberg, Ida Heikkilä (nyk. Backberg) & Pia Palerma

DIRECTION: Lionel Lejeune
SCRIPT: Lionel Lejeune
PHOTO 2: Nina Caballero
IN THE PHOTO: Lilli Dahlberg, Ida Heikkilä (nyk. Backberg), Sini Westerling, Senja Korkkula (nyk. Pihko), Corinne Linder, Jacintha Damström, Aksinja Lommi & Jelena Lössakova

Young Cultural Ambassadors 2005–2006


The Ministry of Education and Culture appointed Circus Helsinki Young Cultural Ambassadors for the first time, for 2005–2006, and a second time for 2009–2010. Hereafter the appointment became permanent. The appointment also serves as an official seal of approval, and as endorsement of the high quality of Circus Helsinki’s shows and of the school’s high educational standard. As a result of the appointment, Circus Helsinki’s show group is regularly invited to participate in international festivals.

PHOTO 1: Opetusministeriön diplomi nimityksestä 2005–2006
PHOTO 2: Helsingin Sanomat 2005

Celebrating the First Five Years 2006

When Circus Helsinki celebrated its 5th anniversary, a gala performance was the main event. This part of the celebrations took place in a circus tent, in Kaisaniemi. On the eve of the gala, the Finnish band, Lordi, had won the Eurovision Song Contest. Therefore, a few last-minute changes were made to the music and choreography of the finale. The enthusiasm of the audience knew no bounds when the performers took to the stage to the tones of the winning Finnish entry.

POSTER: Paula Ojansuu
IN THE POSTER: Pekka Laamanen, Senja Korkkula (nyk. Pihko), Tony Rosvall, Katerina Repponen, Saga Kolehmainen, Lilly Dahlberg & Fanny Dahlberg

Shows 2006


In Lost in Space, an eccentric group of travellers was forced to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet, where they encountered some very odd creatures. The space travellers eventually managed to repair their spaceship, which was built entirely of circus equipment, and were able to pursue their journey. During Manga, the troupe explored the world of Manga comics. Manga was the first production that was created entirely for the younger members of Circus Helsinki’s show group.

DIRECTION: Toni Rosvall & Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Toni Rosvall
PHOTO 1: Antti Suniala
IN THE PHOTO: Ida Heikkilä (nyk. Backberg), Fanny Dahlberg, Corinne Linder, Tomer Berlinsky, Liikka Nikolaeva (nyk. Honkajuuri), Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby) & Jacintha Damström

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen & Lilli Dahlberg
PHOTO 2: Saga Kolehmainen
IN THE PHOTO: Susanna Kujala, Aino Savolainen, Fanni Tähtinen, Elise Lejeune, Terhi Vessonen, Naana Hajjar, Viivi Dahlberg, Margareeta Lauronen, Lilli Dahlberg & Emelie Lejeune

Moving to Vallila 2007


In 2007, Circus Helsinki finally moved into its own premises, which were located in VR’s (The National Railway Company) old warehouses. The school had to apply for a special building permit as the premises were in bad condition, and originally intended as go-downs. Most of the work was done with the help of volunteers. Having its own premises was extremely beneficial for the school. Circus Helsinki’s identity was strengthened, and the school was able to expand its range of activities. As a result, the school attracted a large number of new students. Despite this positive development, the years in Vallila were fraught with difficulties. The Helsinki City Public Works Department required the school to rebuild most of the walls in order to improve fire safety. The school was given very short notice to renew 510 m2 of wall surface. In winter, the premises were freezing cold, and heavy rain almost invariably meant that water seeped through the roof and ran down the walls and electrical cables.

PHOTOS: Osmo Tammisalo & tuntematon.

Classes at Vallila


Both teachers and students were overjoyed with the new premises, which offered a whole range of new possibilities. The school was able to invest in fixed aerial and safety equipment, an air track, and easily accessible implements. It now became possible to expand the school’s curriculum and the range of activities on offer. There was also enough space for the school’s first costume wardrobe, and for a proper office which became the domain of Tuula Anttila, the school’s first full-time secretary.

PHOTOS: Cristopher Senn

IN THE PHOTO 1: Lapsi-vanhempi-ryhmä joulujuhlissa
IN THE PHOTO 2: Sirkusopettaja Maria Krestjanoff
IN THE PHOTO 3: Sirkusopettaja Jouni Ruth

Revontulen Taika 2007

The show, Revontulen taika (Northern Light Magic), was inspired by the magical wilderness of Lapland and set to spellbinding, Sámi music. The photo shows Porot (Reindeer) – an act that Circus Helsinki was invited to perform at the Young Europe Festival in Berlin.

DIRECTION: Kazimir Kolesnik & Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Kazimir Kolesnik & Martina Linder
PHOTO: Berliinin festivaali
IN THE PHOTO: Susanna Kujala, Ida Heikkilä, Elina Vessonen, Aino Savolainen, Corinne Linder & Lilli Dahlberg

A Time of Expansion 2008


The premises in Vallila made it possible for the school to expand and to diversify the curriculum. The new space also provided the opportunity to organise other activities, such as drop-in training sessions and circus camps. The school also began to offer circus parties aimed at companies, or for private events. During the day, the members of Helsingin sirkusammattilaiset r.y.*, held their training sessions at Circus Helsinki. In order to finance these training sessions, the founders of the association, Kadja Karjalainen (currently Manninen) and Petri Ekqvist arranged recurring Open Stage events at Circus Helsinki, a tradition that the school has continued after the association ceased its activities.

*The association of professional circus artists in Helsinki. Freely translated.

PHOTO 1: Mikael Halmeenmäki
IN THE PHOTO: Opettajat Kaito Takayama, Osmo Tammisalo & yritysryhmä

PHOTO 2: Mikael Halmeenmäki
IN THE PHOTO: Iina von Gruenewaldt

PHOTO 3: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Sofia Brilhante Biris

Sukris 2008

The show, Sukris, was a playful balancing act between traditional and contemporary circus. Sukris mirrors the different dimensions of circus arts. On stage, the audience was treated to all the clichés of the traditional world of the circus. Using the expressive language of modern circus, the performers also treated the audience to a peek behind the scene, where they witnessed stage fright, rivalry and upstaging. Recurring, popular acts at Circus Helsinki like Los Musculos and Trio Fantastico, premiered during Sukris.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder & Kazimir Kolesnik
SCRIPT: Martina Linder, Saga Kolehmainen & Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
PHOTO: Antti Suniala
IN THE PHOTO: Meri-Tähti Kunttu, Margareeta Lauronen, Vida Hulkko, Elsa Pakkasvirta, Fanni Tähtinen, Laura & Saga Kolehmainen

Sylt 2008


In 2008, the German circus school, Insel Circus, invited Circus Helsinki’s show group to visit them on the island of Sylt. In the circus village on Sylt, our performers had the opportunity to experience traditional, nomadic circus life. They lived in caravans and gave performances in a big circus tent. Our school visited Sylt again in 2011 and in 2013.

PHOTOS: Osmo Tammisalo

IN THE PHOTO 1: Meri-Tähti Kunttu, Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby), Aino Savolainen & Santeri Koivisto
IN THE PHOTO 2: Saga Kolehmainen, Margareeta Lauronen, Iina von Gruenewaldt, Stella Kylä-Liuhala, Fanni Tähtinen, Laura, Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby), Elsa Pakkasvirta, Karoliina Kaitanen, Aino Savolainen, Helmi Einiö, Johan Juslin, Cecilia Lindberg, Vida Hulkko & Meri-Tähti Kunttu

Circus Helsinki Is Granted State Transfers for Basic Education 2009

Since 2007, Circus Helsinki has provided basic education in arts. In 2009, the school was granted central government transfers for basic education in arts. This opened new possibilities to develop the educational methods and the administration of the school.

PHOTO: Christopher Senn

The School’s First Principal 2009

The central government transfers made it possible for the school to hire more staff. M.P.S., graphic designer Kristiina Janhunen (currently Tammisalo) became Circus Helsinki’s first principal. She developed the framework for the school’s curriculum, in accordance with the national basic arts program. Kristiina also designed Circus Helsinki’s first logo and created the circus’ graphic profile.

PHOTO: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)

Circus Helsinki’s Rock 2009

Osmo Tammisalo, who is a writer of non-fiction, has for many years been Circus Helsinki’s rock. He joined Circus Helsinki in 2004 and has been a long-time board member and teacher. Before that, Osmo Tammisalo had founded and was the chairman of Helsingin käsinseisojat r.y.* During the early years, when Circus Helsinki didn’t have any permanent premises, Osmo very generously offered to share his association’s rather cramped training facilities.

*The association of hand balancing artists in Helsinki. Freely translated.

PHOTO: Jukka Hirvonen
IN THE PHOTO: Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo) & Osmo Tammisalo

Beats! 2009

Beats! was a fast-paced show about young people in an urban environment, a feast of rhythm, with songs and texts written by the young performers. The main theme was a tale of dreams, happiness and the growing pains caused by personal upheaval, seen through the eyes of young people. Circus Helsinki’s emblematic, zigzag patterned costumes were created for Beats. The costumes were made of curtain fabric that had been donated to the school. The photo shows the young performers wearing baggy trousers and orange or red tops. These costumes have become a recurring feature of Circus Helsinki’s Fantasia shows.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Martina Linder
RHYTHMS: Sathis Hettithantri
PHOTO: Susanna Kesänen
IN THE PHOTO: Aino Savolainen & ryhmä

Acento 2010


With acrobatics and mime as their tools, the performers explored the importance of posture and accents in physical expression. The performance revolved around four big, black, movable screens. The mobile stage design allowed for quick scene changes before each act. Karoliina KaitanenOpri VaarakallioSharon Benizri and Taru Harjunpää created an illusion of automatically moving screens. Their masterful work made them the real stars of the show, even though the public saw them, for the first time, at the end of the performance when the artists took their curtain bow.

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen & Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
PHOTO: Mikael Halmeenmäki
IN THE PHOTO: Aino Savolainen

Celebrating Ten Successful Years 2011


Circus Helsinki celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala on the school’s premises in Vallila, and by holding training sessions during which the pupils wore circus costumes.

PHOTO 1: Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
IN THE PHOTO: Opettaja Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo) & oppilasryhmä

PHOTO 2: Tuntematon
IN THE PHOTO: Oppilasryhmä

The Second Principal of the School 2011

In 2011, M. Ed. Mikko Rinnevuori became Circus Helsinki’s second principal. He further developed the structures of the school’s activities and the number of pupils continued to grow. Mikko was also in charge of planning the 600 m2 training facilities at Suvilahti, where Circus Helsinki moved in 2013. He introduced the popular drop in, acrobatics morning classes and developed the open training sessions.

PHOTO: Jari Ylämäki
IN THE PHOTO: Mikko Rinnevuori

Jazz 2011–2012


The show told the story of a music hall that had once been glamorous and fashionable. The owners of the venue, two sisters called Mairikki (Margareeta Lauronen) and Rainikki (Meri-Tähti Kunttu) couldn’t bring themselves to close their beloved music hall, even though it had become distinctly run-down and shabby. The idea for the show was born one summer after a performance, when Margareeta and Meri-Tähti entertained the other performers by mimicking their teachers. The performance was accompanied by the young musician, Oscar Gräsbeck and his Jazz Trio.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Martina Linder
PHOTOS: Mikael Halmeenmäki

IN THE PHOTO 1: Fanni Tähtinen, Margareeta Lauronen, Katja Majola, Johan Juslin, Pihla Kultti, Karoliina Kaitanen, Aino Savolainen, Cecilia Lindberg, Meri-Tähti Kunttu, Beda Rajapuro, Oona Kansi, Sharon Benizri, Ruusa Hallaste, Pepita Papunen, Amanda Lindberg & Taru Harjunpää
IN THE PHOTO 2: Margareeta Lauronen & Meri-Tähti Kunttu

Ote 2012–2013


Ote (Grip) was the first show written and directed by the school’s pupils. The show was about friendship, encounters, trust and growing up. The whole show revolved around, and was inspired by the red sofa, which Jan Grönqvist’s parents had donated.

DIRECTION: Ryhmän oppilaat
SCRIPT: Ryhmän oppilaat

PHOTO 1: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Jeremi Vahtera, Jan Grönqvist, Cecilia Lindberg, Stella Kyllä-Liuhala, Meri-Tähti Kunttu & Karoliina Kaitanen & Aino Savolainen

PHOTO 2: Paula Markkanen
IN THE PHOTO: Jeremi Vahtera, Cecilia Lindberg, Fanni Tähtinen, Beda Rajapuro, Margareeta Lauronen, Stella Kyllä-Liuhala, Aino Savolainen, Oona Kansi, Meri-Tähti Kunttu, Karoliina Kaitanen, Jan Grönqvist & Johan Juslin

The Move to Suvilahti 2013


In 2013, Circus Helsinki moved to new, more appropriate premises. In Suvilahti, the landlord, Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo, was willing to renovate the premises to the school’s requirements. Plans for the renovation were drawn up jointly by Circus Helsinki and Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo. The project was a big investment for the circus school. Circus Helsinki contributed 207 000 euros, to which were added the cost of all the circus equipment. The school also had to finance the creation of a recreational area and extensive storage space. The costliest investments were a bouncing floor, ceiling pipes and lifting equipment for aerial acrobatics, rigging points in the ceiling and floor, 1000 m black curtain fabric, gym mats and lighting equipment. The renovation work was financed by using Circus Helsinki’s own funds together with grants from the Ministry of Education and Culture, and from three private foundations. We are endlessly grateful to everyone who has made this project possible!

PHOTO 1: Tuntematon
PHOTO 2 & 3: Mikael Halmeenmäki
PHOTO 4: Keski-Uusimaa 22.5.2013

Classes at Suvilahti


For everyone at Circus Helsinki, the move to Suvilahti felt like winning the lottery. New opportunities to offer classes and arrange events opened up. The school was able to expand its curriculum and to teach more groups. Circus Helsinki was also happy to welcome students of various ages.

PHOTOS: Mikael Halmeenmäki

IN THE PHOTO 1: Naperoryhmä & opettaja Niko Miettinen
IN THE PHOTO 2: Nuorten ryhmä & opettaja Fanni Tähtinen
IN THE PHOTO 3: Aikuisten aamuakrobatiaryhmä

Helium 2013–2014


The show Helium – halu lentää (Helium – The desire to fly) was inspired by and created around an inflatable zebra. The outcome was a touching story about a zebra that wanted to fly. The joyful, action-packed show recounted the little zebra’s adventures. The youngest members of the group, Juuso Meklin and Pinja Anttonen, acted as the zebra’s guardians and protectors. With their help, the little zebra was eventually set free and able to fly away.

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen & Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen & Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
PHOTOS: Mikael Halmeenmäki

IN THE PHOTO 1: Cecilia Lindberg & Sofia Kistol
IN THE PHOTO 2: Juuso Meklin, Pinja Anttonen, Margareetta Lauronen & Taru Harjunpää

The Waldoni Circus Festival 2014

In 2014, Circus Helsinki’s show group was invited to take part in The Waldoni Circus Festival in Germany, with the teeterboard act, Zeebra. The show group was invited back in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

PHOTO: Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)
IN THE PHOTO: Kasperi Kola, Taru Harjunpää, Pepita Papunen, Katja Majola, Mesi Lounela, Pihla Kultti, Sofia Kistol & Amanda Lindberg iloitsevat palkintoa

The First YlösAlas Festival 2014


When Circus Helsinki organised YlösAlas (Upside down) its first international Youth Circus Festival, the school was joined by Norrköpings ungdomscirkus from Sweden and by young performers from Le Lido in Toulouse. Upsala Zirk in St. Petersburg, Russia, is affiliated with Circus Helsinki. To our great joy, they also took part in the festival. Upsala Zirk offers free circus training in a safe environment. Its pupils are children and young people who live under precarious circumstances. The YlösAlas festival has been held every two years since 2014.

PHOTO 1 & 2: Helsingin Sanomat 2014
PHOTO 3: Kristiina Janhunen (nyk. Tammisalo)

Moving Still – On Tour with Exaudio 2015


In 2015, Circus Helsinki’s show group and the Exaudio choir performed in three Swedish speaking towns in Finland. The performance, Moving Still, was a synthesis of music, song, and movement. The choir sang and moved in formation, while the show group simultaneously created interpretations of the lyrics.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder
SCRIPT: Martina Linder
PHOTOS: Saga Kolehmainen

IN THE PHOTO 1: Sofia Brilhante Biris, Ronja Tuomainen, Sofia Kistol, Fanni Tähtinen, Beda Rajapuro, Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby) & Viola Tokola
IN THE PHOTO 2: Mesi Lounela, Aino Savolainen, Beda Rajapuro, Fanni Tähtinen, Margareeta Lauronen, Mereta Sivén (nyk. Cosby), Amiira Nissinen, Lauriina Tola, Ronja Tuomainen, Viola Tokola, Ruusa Hallaste, Sofia Brilhante Biris, Sofia Kistol & Samir Verma

1000 Pupils! 2015

In 2015, Circus Helsinki counted more than one thousand pupils!

PHOTO: Mikael Halmeenmäki

Tomusta 2015–2016


Tomusta (Of Dust) was a very engaging show about climate change and the consumer society. With this show, Circus Helsinki took its first steps towards greater sustainability. Amongst other changes, the school’s café no longer used disposable cutlery or single-use containers.

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen
PHOTOS: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe

IN THE PHOTO 1: Sofia Kistol, Amiira Nissinen, Karoliina Kaitanen, Taru Harjunpää & Oona Kansi
IN THE PHOTO 2: Oona Kansi, Meri-Tähti Kunttu, Veela Mannerkoski, Alisa Toivonen, Sofia Rossow, Pinja Anttonen, Fanni Tähtinen, Amanda Lindberg & Katja Majola

Celebrating 15 Years 2016

Circus Helsinki’s 15th anniversary celebrations took place during the end of term spring festivities, and during the second YlösAlas (Upside Down) Festival, where performers from Circus In Beweging from Belgium, Circus Mignon and Zirkus Impuls from Germany and Sirkus Grotesk from Russia entertained the audience together with Circus Helsinki’s own performers.

PHOTO: Kristiina Tammisalo

The Conscientious Objectors 2016

Circus Helsinki has, over the years, gratefully welcomed several conscientious objectors who have done their social service at the school. The picture shows conscientious objector Niklas Wickman’s farewell party.

PHOTO: Martina Linder
IN THE PHOTO: Petri Tuominen, Saku Mäkelä, Mikko Rinnevuori, Osmo Tammisalo, Petri Ekqvist, Juha Vilska & Niklas Wickman edessä

Shows 2017


Connect the Dots took the audience to a birthday party that took an unexpected turn, when Amos’ friends decided to organise a surprise party for him at Laku’s house. The light-hearted plot highlighted different people’s reactions and behaviour when confronted with new people. The show focused on social roles and the need to belong to a group while safeguarding one’s independence. Connect the dots was created for the Albert & Friends Instant Circus festival in London. Clowning and mime played the lead role in Palloilu*, which revolved around all kinds of balls. The audience was treated to balloons, miming with scoops of ice cream, balls belonging to different ball games, human beach balls and aimless fooling around with balls.

*Palloilu: ball games. Free translation.

DIRECTION: Martina Linder & oppilaat yhdessä
SCRIPT: Martina Linder
PHOTO 1: Elis Lindfors
IN THE PHOTO: Sofia Brilhante Biris, Ilona Teittinen, Alisa Toivonen, Alma McCracken, Ohto Ketola, Amiira Nissinen, Viola Tokola & Lauriina Tola

DIRECTION: Kristiina Tammisalo
SCRIPT: Kristiina Tammisalo
PHOTO 2: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Amos Finell, Aino Heikkinen, Ohto Ketola, Venla Alén, Kasperi Kola, Elina von Lerber, Peppi Rossow, Lauriina Tola, Eelis Erkkola, Nelli Iso-Mettä, Belen Ünal, Lilli Korpimäki, Sohvi Kanervo, Miray Ünal, Stefanie Raunio & Veela Mannerkoski

The Office Staff 2018


At the beginning of 2018, Social Educator Saga Kolehmainen and M.P.S. Senja Pihko were appointed joint principals of Circus Helsinki. Saga and Senja are both former members of the school’s show group, and both of them have extensive experience of teaching at Circus Helsinki. Both Senja and Saga have studied circus arts abroad. The same year, M.A. Helmi Saukkoriipi became the school’s first full-time study secretary. Helmi has been one of the driving forces behind the school’s development projects. She is also in charge of communication and information, which she has skilfully taken to a new level. Our office staff also includes Tuula Anttila, the school’s long-time secretary, and Martina Linder, the founder and director of Circus Helsinki.

PHOTOS: Mikael Halmeenmäki

IN THE PHOTO 1: Martina Linder
IN THE PHOTO 2: Senja Pihko
IN THE PHOTO 3: Saga Kolehmainen
IN THE PHOTO 4: Tuula Anttila
IN THE PHOTO 5: Helmi Saukkoriipi

Developing the Curriculum 2018

Since 2018, the curriculum has been planned in accordance with the government’s guidelines for teaching performing arts at a basic level. The range of classes that offer intensive training to youngsters has been increased, and the importance of artistic expression is emphasised.

PHOTO: Mikael Halmeenmäki
IN THE PHOTO: Opettaja Fanni Tähtinen & oppilasryhmä

Shows 2018


Noxnoxnox was created by three students from Circus Helsinki’s show group. Mesi LounelaRonja Tuomainen and Viola Tokola wrote, directed, and performed in Noxnoxnox. Using the artistic expression of modern circus, the performers examined the complexity of intensity as a concept. The audience was given the opportunity to freely interpret the deeper meaning of the show. By means of dance and movement, POPO* explored the concept of willpower. During the show, the performers debated how to reach a common goal, despite diverging opinions. A shoe suspended from the ceiling, symbolised willpower. Close to 100 performers took part in the show, Joulusirkus Yhdessä (Christmas circus together). It was the first time that the show group performed together with some of the other pupils, including the adorable toddler-parent group. Oona Rautio played the part of a little gnome trekking through a snowy winter landscape. On her journey she met villagers, shamans, and wolves.

*Popo: footwear. Slang.

DIRECTION: Ryhmän oppilaat
SCRIPT: Ryhmän oppilaat
PHOTO 1: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Mesi Lounela, Ronja Tuomainen & Viola Tokola

DIRECTION: Ryhmän oppilaat
SCRIPT: Ryhmän oppilaat
PHOTO 2: Amanda Lindberg
IN THE PHOTO: Mesi Lounela, Viola Tokola, Amiira Nissinen, Alma McCracken, Amos Finell, Lauriina Tola, Ronja Tuomainen & Ilona Teittinen

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen
PHOTO 3: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Kia Koponen, Oona Rautio, Alma McCracken, Veela Mannerkoski, Ruusa Hallaste, Mesi Lounela, Ronja Tuomainen & Maia Kavasto

The Third YlösAlas Festival 2018

For the third YlösAlas Festival (Upside Down Festival) Circus Helsinki welcomed performers from Stefanie Company from Israel, Kompanie Neun from Germany, Circus Grotesk from Russia, and Circolito from Belgium, who together with the school’s own performers delighted the audience with their inspired performances. The opening acts were performed by Race Horse Company, a professional circus group from Finland, that celebrated its tenth anniversary.

PHOTO: Saga Kolehmainen
IN THE PHOTO: Kompanie Neunin ryhmä kenraaliharjoituksessa

Forest – Protecting the Environment 2018

Operating in a sustainable way, became more and more important. In 2018, sustainability was added, as a separate paragraph, to Circus Helsinki’s values. The school also drew up a conservation plan, and this same year, the school’s Christmas gift to its staff consisted of a donation to The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation. The donation went towards protecting 2000 m2 of old-growth forest in Lohja.

PHOTO: Diplomi lahjoituksesta

Shows 2019


Hygge’s opening night took place in Israel. Hygge, a cosy, exuberant performance full of soft woolly socks and set to Finnish music, holds an appeal that audiences everywhere can relate to. The show will be performed as part of the school’s 20th anniversary celebrations. Huminaa took the audience on a sea voyage together with a band of merry seamen. The action-packed plot included both adventures in the waves and on the bottom of the sea. The show will also be performed as part of the school’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

*Huminaa: the rumbling of the surf. Free translation.

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen
PHOTO 1: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Mesi Lounela, Julia von Lerber, Saana Friberg, Veela Mannerkoski, Pinja Römpötti & Viola Freystätter

DIRECTION: Saga Kolehmainen
SCRIPT: Saga Kolehmainen
PHOTO 2: Xavier Bambú Locquet Vandenberghe
IN THE PHOTO: Altti Timonen, Helka Haukilahti, Sohvi Kanervo, Oona Rautio, Amos Finell, Lauriina Tola, Veela Mannerkoski, Ilona Teittinen, Saana Friberg, Aiko Matsuda, Julia von Lerber & Karoliina Pohjonen

End of Term Festivities 2019


The Circus School’s last end of term celebrations before the Covid-19 pandemic.

PHOTOS: Helmi Saukkoriipi

The Circus School Is Closed 2020


In the spring of 2020, the circus school was forced to close, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the last six weeks of term, classes were held online. The teachers made videos, created pictures and training programs. Some classes were taught live online.

PHOTOS: Kotiväki
IN THE PHOTO 2: Neus Setälä, Liina Hämäläinen, Emma Kolehmainen, Veela Mannerkoski, Ninni Tervo & Elina Vessonen

Special Arrangements 2020–2021


In 2020–2021, a series of special arrangements allowed Circus Helsinki to keep the school partially open during the academic year. When classes were held on the school’s premises, special safety measures were applied. Safety distances of two meters were rigorously enforced, the teachers wore masks, the premises were constantly aired out and a new exit was used. Most of the indoor training was organised along specially designed tracks or at different training points. Even on cold winter days, some classes were held outdoors. Outdoor training tracks had to be built very quickly, and at the end of each class, the pupils were given a hot drink. The school was kindly allowed to use Huilaamo, also in Suvilahti, for some sorely needed extra space.

Due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, the range of lessons was limited. All classes for adults had to be suspended during the spring semester. The younger students had to take a two-week break from training, and the parent-and-toddler groups had to be reorganised into kids’ groups.

The constantly changing safety guidelines from the health authorities were trying for both students and teachers and required great equanimity and flexibility. The pandemic has had overwhelming consequences for the professional performers, who saw their livelihood disappear more or less overnight. One of Circus Helsinki’s former pupils, Johan Juslin, can be cited as an example. He was working as a professional juggler at the Cirque du Soleil, when he suddenly had to find new ways to earn a living. Johan Juslin is currently back at Circus Helsinki, where he works as a teacher and caretaker.

PHOTO 1: Ilona Teittinen
IN THE PHOTO: Opettaja Johan Juslin & opetusryhmä

PHOTO 2: Victor Sommardal
IN THE PHOTO: Johan Juslin & Martina Linder

PHOTO 3: Ronja Tuominen
IN THE PHOTO: Opettajat Ilona Teittinen, Johan Juslin & oppilasryhmä

PHOTO 4: Ronja Tuominen
IN THE PHOTO: Opettaja Lilli Dahlberg & oppilasryhmä

PHOTO 5: Ronja Tuominen
IN THE PHOTO: Opettajat Outi Ikonen, Fanni Tähtinen & opetusryhmä

PHOTO 6: Saga Kolehmainen


DIRECTION: Martina Linder
TEXTS: Sofia Brilhante Biris, Martina Linder & Saga Kolehmainen
THANK YOU: Julia von Lerber