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Sellam El Ouahabi has worked in the circus industry for 38 years – and counting. He began his career at the age of 13, when he received his first professional touring contract with an acrobatic troupe from his home city of Tangier, Morocco. He went on to perform as a member of various acrobatic troupes continuously until he was 19 years old, at which point, he pursued a career as a solo artist. El Ouahabi performed all variety of acts, including acrobatics, equestrian vaulting, human pyramids, hand balance, aerial straps, trapeze, the Wheel Of Death, aerial silks, hand-to-hand and adagio, as well as other performance styles, for the next 19 years. He traveled throughout Europe, South America and Asia, with frequent engagements in Sweden, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland. His performance porfolio includes work with over 20 different circuses, including Circus Knie, Circus Mondial, The Bouglione Circus, Darix Togni Circus, and the Billy Smart Circus. El Ouahabi was an original company member of the U.K. production, the Circus of Horrors, innovating a central character and performing straps, bungee, hand-to-hand and a trio hand balance act for the globe-trotting show. In addition to live performance, he regularly appeared in motion pictures and commercials during his performance career.
In 2006, Sellam 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 not only had a facility for coaching, but 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. El Ouahabi would return as Tour Coach at Smirkus for the next 8 years. In 2011, El Ouahabi also began to teach 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 are now working around the world for companies such as Cirque Du Soleil, The Seven Fingers of the Hand, Carnival Cruise Lines, Girls On Trapeze, Cirque Us, and more. In 2015, El Ouahabi founded The Sellam Circus School, with a mission to bring circus training back into the big top, and to make elite level training accessible to all.