Nuokun Sirkus from Lahti, commonly called as Nuokku, started as magician club in 1979, and subsequently expanded its activities in the youth circus. Nuokku has operated long and formed to its present template, but its purpose is the same: we do youth work by circus.
Nuokun Sirkus is a circus for young people in Lahti. It is an internationally renowned youth circus workshop and hobby.
Above all, it is a versatile family circus.
How it all started:
Nuokun Sirkus was born in Harjukatu’s youth center in 1979. Young called this office space Nuokku, from which it has developed into this peculiar name, Nuokun Sirkus. In the autumn of 1979 there was a discussion going on in Harjukatu’s Nuokku, about what would be the thing to bring together young people of the house who then operated in many different functional groups, such as cooking, costume design and drama clubs.
Youth center hired a magician Jouko Alho and he founded the magician club. Activities began as magician club and its rope tricks. Under the guidance of Magician Alho the magic rope knots came unraveled, but the rope did not drop from their maker’s hand and instead appeared into more and more hands and the enthusiasm grew. Alongside magician club came the dancing girls, sewing club turned into costume design and from the drama club sprung the comical circus clowns. The magic rope had been conjured up to an entire youth circus!
The youth had participated for several years in the national art event’s with singing and theater groups. Looking for styles for future events they discovered a new form of art, circus. It was realized that it is a form of youth work, which could unite all the young people of the house together around one common activity. All the young people would find a role in the circus. The youth and the supervisors were inspired of the idea, and so in the 1982 art event participated a group called Nuokun Sirkus.
This should really be the end of the story, because usually these groups of young people would break down at the end of the art event or at the least the season. However, the circus did not end up like this for its huge demand surprised the instructors as well as the youth themselves.
During the year 1982 the circus had 52 public performances, averaging one performance a week. New participants came constantly and the action accelerated. New circus clubs were established in Lahti’s neighboring townships like Nastola, Janakkala and Iitti, which operated under the instructors of Nuokun Sirkus.
Circus on tour in Finland and abroad
In 1985 there were about 100 booked presentations and a third of these were TV shows. As a new ground circus training sessions were also popular. For a group school students the amount of occurrences was truly staggering. In 1987 there was already 284 presentations. In addition to the live performances the circus has performed in all Finnish TV channels in different shows a total of approx. 30 times and has made shows for other countries broadcasters as well.
Nuokun sirkus’s priority basis is to activate young people. Despite the show aspect it is not a cultural group.
Nuokku’s activities often included ordinary youth center’s operating modes, like trips, assemblies, games, get-togethers, etc. activities, as well as these days already traditional formula of circus camps.
Thanks to its active operations Nuokun Sirkus has the privilege to perform abroad as well.
In summer 1986 the circus did a 18-day tour covering Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This ”missionary” did not go without attention in Europe, as in Randers a ”sister city” in Denmark, circus activities sparked in local youth centers.
Most of the performances were booked appearances. Subscribers were major events such as trotting, year celebrations for townships, fairs, markets, sporting events, church events, youth events, as well as elderly events. Nuokun Sirkus has also appeared in a variety of transportation vehicles such as ships. And speaking of the vehicles, apparently as the world’s only train circus, Nuokun Sirkus has performed in Jumbo train. The event became known as the year of tourism idea.
After the Nordic countries, Central Europe, as well as tours of Gran Canaries it was time to focus on a extensive tour of Finland.
Nuokku made preparations a whole year for their tour on summer -88, which consisted of three circus tents, a great number of vehicles, as well as different props for shows. This became a very interesting ensemble, as Nuokun Sirkus was Finland’s first touring youth circus and as its special feature the fact that no animals was used in the program. The tour began in the Asuva-fair organised ny Nuorkauppakamari in city of Kotka 08.04.1988 Kotka. During the tour 116 performances took place in 60 different areas and it took about four months. In addition, two week-long circus camp were organized that summer.
The support and accolades
Independent Nuokun Sirkus Association was set up in 1987. The city of Lahti has financially supported actual youth activities of the association. In 1989 the city offered the circus a school close by the Mukkula tourist center for its work space. There club and educational activities were arranged for young people throughout the year. However, this work place called Slice-school had to be abandoned in 1996, owing to the occured state of mold problems. After this is Nuokun Sirkus has been engaged in activities ie. at school Niemen koulu, at Vesijärvenkatu near the city center, in shopping center TRIO Hansa and Renoir Ltd’s premises in the Asko’s old factory building, as well in Pesäkallio’s dance hall. Currently circus is based in the Lahti’s youth services premises in 8-sali.
In the beginning the Osuuspankki has been an important cooperation partner. Also, the Mallasjuoma’s and and Kafi Ltd’s support has been crucial, as well as Kymenlääni and Hämeenlääni -provinces have given their support in arranging camps, workshops and tour operations.
In addition to financial support Nuokun Sirkus has received numerous other accolades, which have certainly played a role in maintaining self-confidence. Art event organized the 1986 the circus was awarded the first major medal from youth work along with other medals.
Nuokku represented the Finnish UN’s Hope event in Vienna in 1987. There it was awarded as one of the best youth workshop ideas in the world. Circus was by far the most striking group, of which the Ministry of Labor report cites:
”one can search for a group outside the sports in Austria, who has received comparable publicity ”. Circus manager Jouko Alho was appointed UN envoy of HOPE in Finland. Therefore circus is a workshop beyond the meaning of show occurrences.
Other accolades were the Lahti’s act of tourism -87 award, and the 1987 granting of a Lahti medal.
In 1999-2003 Nuokun Sirkus was involved in the ”Voimaa Ilosta” campaign. The main objective was: ”To provide the joy of at to the people in facilities and people linked to them for the moment”. At the same time the aim has always been; ”To convey cultural messages that institutions would take account of the physical and psychological needs, but also the cultural needs and develop a facility environments more aesthetically”.
Circus hobby has been since the 80s a strong upward trend, and it is gaining ground among a growing number of youth activities in many townships. Magician Jouko Alho has worked as responsive director of Nuokun Sirkus from the beginning, along his gang of three Kai Räikkonen, Juha Rönkkö and Kimmo Karikorpi. They have started up a variety of productive enterprises such as Stopteltat Ltd, Stoppelit Ltd and Stoppeite Ltd alongside the actual circus club and recreational activities.
All of this started with an unprecedented superb try of young people to increase the length of magician rope to touring and performing youth circus. The goal was achieved!
Nuokun Sirkus continues to expand its operations further, and the end is not in sight!
Be a part Nuokun Sirkus’ colorful and multi-dimensional history and join the hobbies, because the circus is for everyone!