For one of our teachers, the highlife is performing circus acrobatics and aerial tricks – and all in between teaching maths lessons…

The Year 8 student had reason to be alarmed: he had just seen his maths teacher dangle from a piece of fabric at the top of the gym ceiling, and abruptly roll down several metres towards the ground. But the performance he had just witnessed was the result of many hours of training and preparation.

Anna Baker is a Mathematics teacher at ISL, she arrived in 2017 from Cambridge in the UK. She is also an amateur circus performer; or, to be more specific, an aerialist – an acrobat who performs feats involving gymnastic skills and choreographed moves carried out high above the ground. Her preferred apparatus, and the one she was showcasing in the school gym, is the aerial silks, which you’ll have seen if you’ve attended a circus show in the last two decades. On the silks, acrobats climb up, wrap their bodies in fabric and drop from above in incredibly elegant displays set to music; audiences will often go from admiring the beauty of the pose to gasping as the performer descends rapidly as the fabric unravels.

As a child, Anna was always active: a keen gymnast and trampolinist, and also a dancer who loved performing on stage. Growing up, she discovered other passions such as acting in plays or rock climbing. It was on a trip to Australia, while she was working in Singapore in the early 2010s, that she saw an aerialist perform and decided to try it out for herself. The skills simply “came naturally to me.” While she did not pursue it further at the time, and it would only be in Cambridge, when a friend told her that a community circus was re-opening and that it was “the sort of thing you would like.”

Her friend was right, of course. The circus combined everything Anna was passionate about: “It has the physical challenge of gymnastics and the creative aspect from dance; it is both physical and intellectual and I love being up on stage and performing. And I get all that in one little package of circus.”

Gradient Issue #2: The magazine of the International School of Lausanne

In this edition, we explore how our community has coped during this special year to make the best of it. We also have a special section on multilingualism and how it can both benefit and challenge our students.