The last couple of pandemic-ridden years haven't been easy for Warehouse Circus.
"We came close to the wire," artistic director Tom Davis says.
But it's coming back in a big way with the Canberra Circus Festival, a multiday event bringing together young circus artists from around Australia, Warehouse Circus members and professionals for masterclasses and circus, clown and magic performances.
There will also be a market day with free roving performances, ticketed circus shows and workshops and circus items such as juggling equipment for sale.
"The festival's a really exciting thing," Davis, who's also the festival director, says.
After a performance at the Enlighten Festival, it will mark the circus's public re-emergence in 2022.
The circus survived the pandemic through a combination of ACT government support, Jobkeeper and an $80,000 donation from a supporter who wished to remain anonymous, Davis says.
The visiting experts - many of them Warehouse Circus alumni with international as well as national careers - will teach and upskill the students, as well as perform public shows.
"We've got 33 participants so far," Davis says of the students. Despite the pandemic, young people from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus in Albury, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts in the Northern Territory and Castlemaine Youth Circus from Victoria will be coming to learn and perform.
One of the visiting performers will be former Canberra magician Nicholas J. Johnson.
"I'll be performing two magic shows - one for families, one for older audiences."
The former, Tricky Nick, shares its title with his quasi-autobiographical book.
"It becomes increasingly unbelievable as the book goes along - it's up to the kids to figure out when I'm telling the truth and when I'm not," Johnson says.
In the older-audiences show, Deceptology, he will talk about the neuroscience of magic - how people get deceived.
Johnson was involved with Warehouse Circus precursor Knack Gnats but didn't have the right skills for circus. He borrowed library books on magic, learned from Canberra magicians and began performing at kids' parties at the age of 10, wearing clown makeup to try to hide his age.
He later moved to Melbourne and developed a successful adult career as a magician and author.
For Davis, the benefits of circus for young people are many.
"It's a really physical, creative activity that's non-competitive."
It's therapeutic, socially inclusive and caters to all ages - there are preschool groups and about 500 students a week; most are between five and 20.
Local student Clare Pengryffyn, 18, says when she was eight, her grandmother signed her up to Warehouse Circus.
"I was a very active child so it worked."
She has done a lot of aerial work, tumbling, jumping - enduring four knee dislocations - and juggling and says she will do as many classes as she can.
"Rollerskating is one I'm really excited to do."
Pengryffyn and her best friend, Jade Somerville, also 18, met in Warehouse where they've both been acquiring skills and performing for about a decade.
Somerville's specialities include group acrobatics, hula hooping and juggling.
They perform together - you might see them as roving pirate performers pass juggling knives at the festival - as well as separately.
The friends have also formed a performing company, Strange Exchange, which had its first performance in February.
Both want to pursue a circus career.
Warehouse Circus's major 2022 show, Elemental, will be on at The Street Theatre in October.
Until then, the festival is a good way to get a taste of what circus is all about, whether as a performer or spectator.
Warehouse Circus's Canberra Circus Festival is on at Lions Club Youth Haven, 244 Kambah Pool Road, Kambah from April 19 to 23. See: warehousecircus.org.au.