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A project for young high-flyers

Designing the set for a spectacular Cirque du Soleil production at the Albert Hall is a not a task usually given to 10-year-olds.

But with a scheme called the Icarus Project, 490 children at 10 Westminster schools have been hard at work designing the two-part circular stage and the equipment needed to create a magical forest.

The project is linked to the French Canadian circus company's production of Varekai, in which a man is sent into a magical forest populated by strange creatures.

The aim is to get the pupils excited about design and engineering - mindful that the full name of the Albert Hall is the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences.

Gil Favreau, director of social action and responsibility for Cirque du Soleil, said: "Circus arts have proven uniquely successful in reaching young people, regardless of culture, economic status or physical abilities."

The children presented their designs this week and were invited to a production of Varekai in February next year, where they will find out how the circus professionals solved their design challenges.

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