When an international circus performer and a girl entranced with the circus since age 8 got married, it seemed natural that they would base their new Sellam Circus School in her home state of Maine. In the summer of 2015, Amity Stoddard and Sellam El Ouahabi founded the Sellam Circus School and launched their Maine Coast Summer Circus Arts day camp program. This includes a summer camp for circus arts inside a traveling big top tent, as well as weekend performances by students and professionals. The circus played throughout coastal Maine including the towns of Biddeford, Rockport and Bar Harbor. Now based in Biddeford Maine, they divide the work to take advantage of both Sellam and Amity’s backgrounds. Sellam, originally from Tangiers Morocco, is a respected international circus star who has 30 years of performance experience. Amity, who had handled everything from tour management to marketing for large circuses such as Circus Smirkus, Cirque du Soleil and Big Apple, is the administrative director.
While running their busy summer programs, the two continued to scout for a location to build a year-round circus school. In 2016 they were referred by another client in the North dam Mill Complex to the Southern Maine Finance Agency. They were able to open their school in the Pepperell Mill Campus offering both recreational after-school classes as well as a full-time professional training program. Students in the full-time program tend to be at least 18 years of age and can specialize in skills such as wire, silks, and straps in addition to unicycle, juggling, and Adagio.
Students of all ages and abilities come from all over the world to study the accelerated practice methods of Sellam, and learn how to handle their own body weight on silks, high wire, trapeze, and other apparatus.
“We honestly are so grateful to Southern Maine Finance Agency for looking beyond what others might dismiss and realize that our business plan and experience are a solid foundation for a very viable company,” says Amity. “We are still working on our existing space, but we are slowly but surely expanding our capabilities and our appeal to potential students from all over.”