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Spotlight on Sellam El Ouahabi, Big Top Tour Coach

Sellam El Ouahabi has worked in the circus industry for 37 years – and counting.

He began his career at the age of 13, with his first professional touring contract as a member of the Hassani acrobatic troupe in Tangier, Morocco.  He went on to join the famed Ben Karim Troupe and performed continuously until he was 19 years old, at which point, he pursued a career as a solo artist.

For the next two decades, El Ouahabi innovated and performed all variety of acts, including acrobatics, human pyramids, hand balance, aerial straps, trapeze, the Wheel Of Death, aerial silks, hand-to-hand and adagio.  He traveled throughout Europe, South America and Asia, with over 20 different circuses.  In 2006, he began the transition from performance to full-time coaching.

Throughout his performance career, El Ouahabi often acted as a ‘show coach’ – coaching other artists and troupe members on the show.  He found that he deeply enjoyed teaching the technique he had perfected in his own work, as well as acting as a mentor for those seeking a life in the circus.

In 2008, Circus Smirkus brought El Ouahabi to Greensboro, Vermont to coach their annual Big Top Tour show, and his life was forever changed by this magical circus company nestled in the Northern Kingdom.  This year marks Sellam’s 8th season working on the Smirkus Big Top Tour.

From 2011 through 2015, El Ouahabi also taught full time for the New England Center for Circus Arts, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, during the fall and winter months. El Ouahabi specialized in coaching NECCA’s pre-professional and pro-track level students, as well as the Advanced Youth troupe. Many of El Ouahabi’s former students have gone on to train at the National Circus Schools in Montreal and Quebec, as well as work around the world for companies such as Cirque Du Soleil, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 7 Fingers, Carnival Cruise Lines, Girls On Trapeze, Cirque Us, and more.

In 2015, after consulting on several circus projects in the mid-coast and southern Maine area, El Ouahabi formed his own school – The Sellam Circus School – in Biddeford, Maine.

The Sellam Circus School’s mission is to provide easy access to world-class, professional circus arts coaching; and the preservation, sharing and promotion of the culture and traditions of traveling circus.

As part of the school’s commitment to bringing circus to the underserved communities of Maine, this summer it has launched its touring Maine Coast Summer Circus Arts Day Camp program.

You can learn more about The Sellam Circus School’s circus arts day camps in Rockport, Vinalhaven, and Bar Harbor, Maine, by visiting