Review: Omnium

Review by Carleigh Saberton

I had the amazing opportunity to attend Omnium’s virtual show this March! Omnium circus is all about diversity and inclusivity. This nonprofit organization features “multi-talented, multi-racial, and multi-abled performers” and has given the opportunity to all people and families to enjoy the show. Although I had a bit of trouble logging onto the show, I received help from a lovely representative and once I was there, it was very user friendly. There were 4 options that you could choose from. The Typical video included the hosts talking and signing as well as captions. The ASL video was very similar to the Typical video, both always had a way for the deaf and hearing to enjoy. They also had an audio description, where the audience can hear the dramatic music as well as a narrative of the people, actions and events taking place, and a plain language video, where the narrator spoke in a simple language that made everything very easy to understand. 

The show consisted of a variety of skills from cyr wheel to juggling, aerialists to acrobats and hoops to horses! All of the performers, from all over the world share a love of circus and have a strong appreciation of this organization. They strive to break the brand of society and embrace diversity. Watching the acts from my living room felt like being at a live performance but more exciting because we got to enjoy the incredible feats of strength from awesome camera angles and transitions. My personal favorite was Jen Bricker Bauer, an aerialist with no legs, who performed on aerial silks with her husband. Not only did she showcase her amazing aerial skills, she shared a touching moment dancing with her husband with her aerial silk ballgown. Overall, I really enjoyed the show. It was so inspiring, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to inspire people of all ages and abilities to pursue their dreams.  

Review: Artistes of Colour: Ethnic Diversity and Representation in the Victorian Circus by Steve Ward

Review by Revely Rothschild

To some, history books may seem boring– everything they discuss has already happened, so what’s the point? But from the moment I picked up Steve Ward’s Artistes of Colour: Ethnic Diversity and Representation in the Victorian Circus, I knew this wasn’t the case: the rich details and approachable writing make it a valuable and enjoyable read. Whether you know the ins and outs of Victorian circus as well as Ward, or whether this is as new of a subject to you as it was to me, you will find Artistes of Colour to be a compelling and accessible take on a largely unexplored aspect of circus history. 

Artistes of Colour is Ward’s way to celebrate those circus artists who have been unjustly forgotten, and to honor the memories of those who experienced racial discrimination during life. While the book does an excellent job of covering such a deep and important theme, it’s also a very accessible read. Each chapter covers one performer, so whether you intend to read the book cover to cover, or would prefer to read the chapters individually, you will find yourself immersed in a narrative that’s compelling for a variety of reasons. 

For one, he paints an awe-inspiring picture of all these artistes and their terrific skills (for example, one woman, Leona Dare, hung from her teeth from a hot air balloon). But it’s by using interviews, press clippings, and posters or photographs from the time that Ward really brings the performers (and society’s response to them) to life. Not only does Ward use media about the artistes, he also investigates their personal lives, and through that, these admirable circus heroes become lively, complex individuals in their own right.

Ward pays great attention to detail, not only in the lives of each individual performer, but also in the connections between all of them. One of my favorite elements of this book was the way that Ward makes references to previously-discussed performers in later chapters and describes the interactions or relationships between all the artistes. By drawing unifying ties between all the artistes, Ward reminds us of something that has always, and still is true about the circus community: no matter who you are, it can be your home.

Review by Stacy Gubar:

One may think that a non-fiction, historical novel would be overly dense and boring, but Artistes of Colour: Ethnic Diversity and Representation in the Victorian Circus by Steve Ward is anything but that. This work contains fascinating personal stories accompanied by broad overviews of the time period which creates a beautiful balance between entertaining anecdotes and important historical context. For this reason, I really enjoyed reading this book and did not find it overbearing in content at all. I also loved looking at the included timelines and pictures because they provide wonderful visuals of the discussed people and events. Additionally, they further dilute any possible insipidness and make the book very entertaining to explore. The timelines also work to contextualize and chronologize the book’s events, which ensures the work is accessible and easily comprehensible to a varied audience including adolescents like myself. In fact, the entire text is extremely well organized in a clear, logical order and includes a glossary at the end which allows readers to quickly locate sections they might wish to re-read. Furthermore, each chapter is concluded by a list of cited works which can be an invaluable resource for those wishing to learn more about the subject. I personally admire the citations because they allowed me to trust the information I was reading, and feel confident about the author’s integrity. In conclusion, I feel everyone would enjoy perusing this brilliant, accessible, and trustworthy look into the history of POC representation within the circus, and I highly recommend you give it a try.

Purchase your copy here!

Review: NECCA’s Circus Spectacular

By Stacy Gubar

Recently I had the pleasure of attending NECCA’s 11th annual Circus Spectacular show. The performance was truly incredible despite being virtual this year. NECCA admirably adapted to the current circumstances to create a beautiful programme for an admirable purpose. The board chair, Elizabeth Wohl, and Jenna Struble explained that the Circus Spectacular is the main source of fundraising for NECCA students needing financial aid, and that NECCA has recently been able to fund a blood drive, food drive, LGBTQIA+ scholarship, and BIPOC scholarship in addition to that. Additionally, the speakers acknowledged that NECCA is located on Native land and that all their work would not be possible without the sacrifice of the native people. I knew very little about the organization beforehand, but found NECCA to be a very admirable, responsible, and humble one. 

I was equally impressed and inspired by all the stunning performances the evening included. The Advanced Youth Troupe performed beautifully to the poem “Freaks” by Moo Butler. The poem was incredibly powerful and fit well with both the occasion and the choreography. The routine included fluid group dance, trapeze, ribbon (silks), German wheel, acrobatics, straps, and webs which proved to be a wonderful, varied display of circus skill. The group’s choice to wear mismatched costumes further highlighted the individuality of the performers and matched well with the poem’s message regarding inclusivity in circus. 

The next act, performed by the incredibly experienced and talented Joel Herzfeld, was simply breathtaking. It was a very creative hand balancing routine with clever theatrical aspects. Herzfeld demonstrated exemplary strength, balance, flexibility, and aptitude for fluid motion throughout the whole incredibly active routine. It was a mesmerizing and rare experience to view a hand balancing routine with so much motion and I was entranced the whole way through. 

Another very unique and seemingly gravity-defying performance was carried out by the incredible Eric Bates. This particular routine was no exception to Bates’ admirable use of performing arts to bring awareness to climate change, since the items being juggled were cigar boxes. I found this to be a very interesting choice, and one that created a juggling act unlike anything I had seen before. The routine was very active and upbeat and demonstrated such skillfulness that, in the hands of Bates, the nearly impossible feats seemed effortless. 

The next routine seemed to be equally effortless for the spectacular founder of Droplet Dance, Molly Gawlerl. It was a very beautiful, fluid routine with the Cyr wheel. Gawler and the wheel seemed to be one and the same, and were truly mesmerizing to watch. The incredible, heartfelt facial expressions Gawler displayed throughout the routine matched the music very well and added a beautiful theatrical aspect to an already stunning performance. 

Another very theatrical act was presented by Micah Ellinger and Sylvian Ramseier. They were an incredible acrobatic duo with a beautiful, highly emotional routine that I simply could not look away from. The dance elements blended wonderfully with the awe-inspiring acrobatic feats the pair displayed. Having experience with partner acrobatics myself, I was absolutely astonished by the ease with which they completed such advanced tricks. Their talent and strength made each feat seem effortless. Furthermore, they were so impossibly in sync with each other that I found it difficult to believe these incredible performers were regular humans. 

Another artist that must be extraterrestrial is the astonishing contortionist, Ariana Ferber-Carter. The routine Ferber-Carter presented at the Circus Spectacular was certainly spectacular and seemingly inhuman in the best possible way. The flexibility and fluidity demonstrated in this performance are unbeatable, and seemed so natural and effortless for this talented performer. I also really loved the shining body suit Ferber-Carter wore, and the way it emphasized the beautiful bendy positions demonstrated in the routine. 

The next routine, performed by Chloe Somers (Wailer), was a very creative, cheerful hula hoop act. I have not seen many hoop routines in my life, so I had no idea a childhood toy could be used in so many beautiful ways. Somers (Wailer)’s incredible coordination and creativity produced quite a spectacle that I could not stop staring and smiling at. I was particularly entranced when four, or perhaps it was even five, hoops were spun at once! That, as well as the entire routine, was truly incredible. 

Last but not least, Kevin Beverly and Gravity and Other Myths presented an incredible group acrobatic act. The seemingly impossible flips and leaps they performed convinced me that gravity truly is a myth for these talented artists. I also really loved the fact that the routine was performed alongside a band playing live music. As both a circus performer and ensemble flute player myself I really appreciated witnessing my two favorite things collide in such a beautiful, dynamic routine.

Despite being a virtual event this year, the 2021 NECCA Circus Spectacular was an amazing show. The combination of pre recorded acts and live, and very lively, ringmaster and emcee, Jeff Raz and Tristan Cunningham, allowed the evening to run smoothly, but feel personal as well. The concluding live Q&A with the featured performers also helped make the show feel more like an in-person experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event, and lament the unfortunate fact that I missed Mario Diamond’s pre-show because I am certain it was wonderful as well. 

Get to know your AYCO board member, Lyra Gray!

By Tessa Wallington

Lyra Gray

Get to know American Youth Circus Organization board member, Lyra Gray! As a member of the board, Lyra hopes to share her passion for circus with not only her community, but also the country as a whole. Gray holds a seat on three committees, dealing with development, finance, and insurance and deals with releases and policies for the circus community. Gray spoke on how the cohesive board has some exciting things coming up, and with dealing with the pandemic, the team has been working hard to provide a circus-filled year to the organizational members. You may have heard of one of Gray’s first projects, as she is the former owner of Aerotique, one of the only aerial studios in Columbus, Ohio. Due to covid, Gray has since moved on to focus on her involvement with the board, however was able to pass on the torch, and left her mark on the studio. Gray began her circus career in her adult years, and was able to build off her gymnastics background to improve her skills. Gray’s “strong desire to see the circus community grow” allows for her to share her passion in a meaningful way, as the AYCO board gives members the opportunity to be involved with the circus community in a different light. Gray described her circus career as “creative,” and when asked about her proudest moment, Gray responded that she loves that she was able to allow access to circus in her community.

Interview with AYCO Board Chair Dr. Jen Agans

By Emily Fulton

Dr. Jen Agans is AYCO’s dedicated Board Chair.  She is a passionate circus educator and circademic.  She started her journey with AYCO as a youth in the early 2000s, and her involvement with AYCO and ACE grew over the years.  When not working with AYCO, Jen is an assistant professor and researcher for Penn State.  You can find out more about Jen and contact her at  Recently, I had the honor of meeting with her over Zoom to hear her circus story.  I hope you enjoy reading our interview as much as I enjoyed chatting with her!

How did you get your start in circus?

I went to the Pine Hill Waldorf School, and when I was in Second Grade, the Seventh and Eighth Grade teachers brought in this cool lady who lived in the community to put on a circus with their kids. I remember watching that circus and being like, “that is the coolest thing, I want to do that.” Luckily for me, the school agreed that it was a cool thing and brought Jackie Davis on as a part-time and then eventually full-time Movement Teacher for the First through Eighth Grades. I got to have classes with Jackie, and I did a summer camp with her. I think Fourth Grade was my first time actually getting to try circus, and then by the time I was in Fifth Grade, we had circus classes, so I had juggling homework, which I did not like at the time. I was not very good at it, but thanks to Jackie’s homework and the requirement that I keep trying even though I didn’t want to, I became a juggler. That was my main circus skill, juggling. So it’s kind of fun that the thing that I did not like at the beginning ended up being the thing that I liked the most.

What is your favorite circus discipline or trick?

I don’t like just juggling by myself, I really like juggling with other people. My favorite thing is 2 or 3 or 4 person club passing. I really like the challenge of trying to work together as a group to make the patterns work and trying to link patterns together. All club passers have their own repertoire of tricks that they know, so when you get a group of three or four club passers together, pretty much everybody will have a trick that somebody else doesn’t know. They can teach the group. So it’s a really cool thing to do with other people and a cool way to hang out with people.

What is the most unique experience you’ve had through circus?

I think an obvious answer to that question would be when I toured with Circus Smirkus in 2004. Getting to travel around New England and performing in a big top tent is something that if you don’t do circus, you’re not going to do. And even a lot of people who do circus don’t get the chance to tour. So that was a really fun thing to have done. I think because I haven’t followed a circus career, my summer with Smirkus was the most performing I’ve ever done. Instead, I followed more of a circus education track. After Smirkus, I spent the next 10 summers coaching at, and then eventually directing, the Silver Lining Circus Camp, but I’ve spent a lot less time doing circus than many other people in the AYCO community. 

In the 10 years I spent my summers doing circus, I was also going to college and then graduate school. Now I work at a university, and there’s no circus within a couple of hours of where I live. Given that sort of non-circus lifestyle, circus has been a conversation starter. I always have an answer when someone asks for something surprising about me; “Oh, I juggle.” It’s a cool way to find out who the cool people are when you come into a new community. If I say “I juggle” and somebody goes, “weirdo” then I know who I don’t want to hang out with! It’s not a specific unique experience, but I think circus has given me something unique that I can carry into non-circus spaces. 

What’s your role at AYCO now? 

My current role is Chair of the Board, which means I lead meetings, I get to be a figurehead at events, and stuff like that. I’ve been on the Board for a few years, and prior to serving as the Chair, I served as the Secretary. There are all sorts of roles within a nonprofit organization so it’s interesting to serve in different capacities. 

Why did you decide and what inspired you to join AYCO’s Board?

I have been to every AYCO Festival except for 2007, which was the year that I was first over 18, and AYCO at that time didn’t have any role for circus kids who grew up. So I thought I was too old for AYCO, which was sad. For the following event in 2009, they created the work-study program, which is for people ages 18 to 26 who love circus and want to be part of the event. It’s great for transitioning into a leadership role; you’re not taking all the workshops, you’re helping to produce the event. I got to do that in 2009, and I came back to AYCO very excited. I started going to the educators’ conferences, which are held on the off years from the youth festivals. I guess my involvement in AYCO sort of evolved as I developed my career. 

When I was a youth circus performer I was going to the youth festivals, but starting in 2009 I was beginning to see myself as a circus educator. That corresponded with me going to college, getting a degree in psychology and education, and then going to graduate school and getting my Ph.D. in human development. In my academic work, I study adolescent involvement in extracurricular activities and why it’s good for kids to do stuff like circus. So I actually started to get more involved with AYCO as I got less involved in directly working with kids, because I was starting to become a circus researcher or a Circademic (using Jackie Davis’ term combining “circus” and “academic”). As I became a Circademic, I became useful to the circus community in a different way. In the academic world, it’s cool and weird and random that I juggle, but in the circus world, it’s kind of cool and weird and random that I do research. So I started to get a lot more involved in AYCO through the ACE side. I was helping circus educators to conduct research on their programs, and helping them demonstrate that their programs are effective because people who give money to programs like to get evidence that they are working.

I think through that involvement, I started to take more of a leadership role as somebody who people would turn to, to answer questions about research. Around that time, the then Chair of the Board, Jesse Alford, sent me an email. He had been the leader of the work-study people when I was a work-study person, so we had known each other a while. He reached out and asked how I felt about possibly being on the board. It just felt like a logical next step, since I was already serving on a committee, and I was honored to be asked. I felt completely unworthy. I had never served on a board before and I was in my 20s. I was like, “what do I know?” Luckily, they convinced me that I should join the board anyway and I’ve learned a lot along the way. 

One of my messages to folks out in the community is that if you love youth circus or you love circus education, you could be a good fit for the board. You don’t have to be somebody who’s been a member of AYCO for a long time. You don’t have to run your own organization. I don’t even work for a circus organization, and I haven’t for over a decade. Being on the board is a way to serve the circus education industry, and I want to see that industry thrive. So I do that by being on the board.

What is your favorite circus performance that you have ever seen?

My most recent favorite circus performance that I’ve seen is Humans by Circa. They came here to State College, Pennsylvania, and performed a couple of years ago, which I thought was very cool, because we don’t really have any circus here. Our Performing Arts Center is run by somebody who thinks circus is cool, so she brings in a circus to perform there at least once a year. 

I really liked Humans because it felt very different from a lot of other circus shows I had seen. Contemporary circus is supposed to feel different. There were just so many little details that were cool. There was very little on the stage, and they were doing amazing tumbling and acrobatics. They did a lot of interesting things with the sound, like moments of silence where you couldn’t even hear their feet hit the floor. It felt very, very different from many of the circuses that I’ve seen before. That would be the most recent one. 

I think maybe my other favorite circus performance that I’ve seen recently was the UniverSoul Circus, which I saw at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2017. That was just like the epitome of a fun show. Every act was riveting and energizing, and super cool. Anybody who has a chance to see UniverSoul should see it.

Those two shows are almost on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. So I also really like that circus has so much variety inside of it. 

What is something in circus that you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t gotten the chance to do yet?

Through going to AYCO festivals, I’ve gotten to try a lot of the things I wanted to try. I’ve gotten to try Flying Trapeze, I’ve gotten to try German Wheel, and I’ve gotten to walk on a super high wire. Those were all former answers to that question.

I think my current answer to that question is that, being far from circus practice, both with COVID and with living in Central Pennsylvania, I just miss doing circus. I just want to do it!  I like that feeling of shared accomplishment and shared struggle. You know, just being able to play in the circus space is something that I miss. Some people thrive on practicing alone, but I like the social parts. If I’m lucky, some circus youth will come to Penn State for college and start a circus club here. 

To learn about all of AYCO’s board members, click here!

Hey, Hup Squad – What was your favorite circus related moment or experience of this year?

In our final post of the year, we’ve asked the entire Hup Squad to come together to tell us their favorite moments of this year!

Interested in being on AYCO’s Hup Squad? Applications for our 2021 Squad are open now until January 1, 2021. Click here to learn more and apply! Questions? Email

Calista Faragalli: Looking back on 2020 I was very lucky because I was able to still have some training, even though it was limited. I have two favorite memories. The first is attending Joffrey Cirque Arts in Las Vegas. They were able to manage a performance where parents were screened, escorted to a seat six feet from the next seat, and everyone wore masks. However, it was my only performance of the whole year! I learned my first routine on the straps and I was introduced to the teeterboard by the Cirque artists.

My second memory will be of all of the amazing circus companies that opened up online classes. I was able to take classes from The Circus Project in Portland, OR and Cirque LA. I was even able to get my sister to take a class and now she is learning to juggle! (I’m so proud of her). These are experiences I would not have had if this was a normal year. It also taught me to try and find opportunities and make the best of things. As my state is now in our second “lockdown,” I am busy trying to see what other classes I can pop into online. Although I benefit from the classes, supporting current artists is very important as someday I hope to be working as an artist, too!

Calista Faragalli

Carleigh Saberton: 2020 was not a very eventful year in my circus world but the small things that did happen were awesome! Everything was shut down for a little while and I was dying to get back to doing circus in person and, finally, I got to attend the advanced summer camp at my circus! I learned so many awesome things with my circus friends for 2 weeks and we had so much fun doing hoop tosses outside and unicycling in the rain and then we ended it with an amazing virtual performance. Having everything virtual is very new but so far, it’s worked out pretty well! There are some things that don’t work very well online so I was really excited to get back into german wheel at MNTR and start taking aerial classes at Elevated Aerials! I can’t wait to continue making circus memories both big and small.

Carleigh Saberton

Emily Fulton: I spent this year like I’m sure many of you did: Zoom training and, eventually, outdoor classes. Masks and sanitizer were the new norm at my studio. I should probably mention that my studio was either the top of a hill or a sheep field (plentifully covered in manure and fully equipped with electric fencing) depending on the day. I certainly had my fair share of pandemic circus trials and tribulations, but I also had a host of meaningful experiences that I probably never would have had the opportunity to experience had there been no pandemic. 

One of those experiences happened when I was practicing my newly minted (outdoor) slackwire skills. So, it was a windy, cold day, and my feet were freezing on the steel wire. I was pretty new to slackwire, so I was constantly falling and I was making mistakes all of the time. Anyway, I was practicing when a car pulled up, with a maybe five-year-old little girl inside. The car stopped and the girl excitedly yelled “hi” to me, and I waved to her. Then, I did the only slackwire tricks that I knew: stand up on the wire, stay on for maybe five seconds, lose my balance and fall down. But, the little girl, she was so excited! She started enthusiastically yelling something like, “Daddy, look, that’s the really hard trick,” and, “Wow, nice job, that’s amazing!”  It was obvious that she was thoroughly enjoying my beginner tricks, and my heart was warmed by her happiness. After maybe five minutes, we yelled goodbye, and the car pulled away. I think that was when I truly realized that the whole point of circus and performance is to make people happy, to fill their hearts with joy, even if only for a few minutes. Through circus you can make connections with strangers, you can bring happiness even during a pandemic. Thank you to circus coaches everywhere for all of the great COVID adapted training, it has sustained the bodies of many young performers during these…weird…times.  2020 definitely hasn’t been easy for the performance community, but circus still brings us together!

Emily Fulton

 Julaine Hall: This year has been FuNkY to say the least, but amidst all the inconveniences the year threw at me, I was still able to train and have circus in my life. My parents installed a Chinese Pole and aerial rig for me in the backyard (I am so incredibly lucky!), I got to be a part of the San Diego Circus Center’s Annual MYI program through virtual connections, I got to train a lot with a friend and major inspiration of mine, Terry Crane, and continued to keep all the skills I could as well as learn new ones. Throughout all this, I have learned the value of having a community to train with, that pushing yourself when alone is a different type of grit, and that quality over quantity is key to improving. Even though we are cooped up, that doesn’t mean we can’t collaborate! I was able to participate in a “rope relay” which will be featured in Acrobatic Conundrum’s online show this winter and premiers on December 26th at 7pm and will be available until midnight on New Year’s day.  Here’s the link if you would like to get tickets!

Julaine Hall

Lacy Gragg: This year has been full of ups and downs, and sometimes it’s hard to look on the bright side. Circus for me has changed drastically. I went from seeing my friends and circus family almost every day to barely talking to people outside of my family, that made me feel very alone. But circus has given me the ability to set concrete goals and commitments, and something to work on and look forward to. It created a different kind of outlet than it was before the pandemic. This year I performed in a show called The Balancing Act where I created a solo unicycle act. This was quite a daunting task for me. I have never done an act on my own before and, at first, I felt very lost; I wasn’t sure what I wanted my act to look like. Eventually I decided it should reflect my feelings toward the pandemic. Most of the act I rode around in a small figure eight occasionally stopping in the middle to do tricks. I am a very social person and quarantining away from people has been really hard for me. I feel almost as though I am wandering around in circles. I look forward to circus going back to something similar to what it was before but I think that everyone learned something valuable this year, and as a community we have learned to adapt and change.

Lacy Gragg

Mags Farrell: 2020 has been a crazy year, and with it came some crazy experiences. In this past fall, I got to perform in Wise Fool NM’s first ever virtual show, CircAspire: Press Play! 2020 has been a rocky year, to say the least. In light of the recent pandemic, most extra curricular activities were (and some still are) canceled, including Circus. Our biannual show, CircAspire, was set to be performed live at the end of April. But due to quarantine, we did the show in November! In the show, I performed various skills. And let me tell you, the process wasn’t easy by any means. Constructing acts, ideas, and scenes exclusively through a few zoom calls a month was challenging. But to no surprise, our amazing cast and crew pulled through to get the job done! By doing it virtually instead of canceling it all together, it was a great opportunity to flip a negative situation into a positive, and I’m glad I was a part of it!

Mags Farrell

Maia Castro-Santos: 2020 was undoubtedly a year of new challenges, but it was also a year of new solutions. As studios shut down and limited their students, I realized that I would not be able to train as frequently as I had in the past. One of the most inspiring parts of this year for me was watching my friends and family adapt to constantly changing circumstances, and I tried my best to do the same. Even though we were physically separate, my circus community stayed close to me through the isolating months of social distancing. Although it was difficult, I was able to find new places outdoors to practice and perform. My audience became a video camera. Applause became comments, views, and likes. The parking garage, the cemetery, and the rooftop became my stage. I look forward to the day when stages and circus rings will open again, but in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that even a pandemic won’t stop us from creating the art that we love. 

Maia Castro-Santos

Mira Gurock: This year has been absolutely bananas for my circus community. Realizing the privilege of aspects of circus that I thought to be given has been eye-opening. Being able to perform with a crowd of more than 15 people (or performing at all!), going to practice without worrying about leaving a mask at home, watching a demonstration rather than listening to my coaches explain the instructions for a sequence, etc. The list goes on. This year has presented numerous unforeseen challenges for my circus community. Having to switch to online lessons without the use of rigging was a tough transition and one that felt fruitless for a long time. However, I am endlessly grateful for the time, energy, and hard work that my coaches and staff have put in to keep us moving, safe, and passionate. I was even able to perform in a small fundraiser in early November. I will forever feel thankful for the little things I took for granted because of my experiences this year and am wishing a huge thank you to all my community members that made this year of circus-ing possible. 

Mira Gurock at a fundraising event in November

Rachel Ostrow: This year was certainly unexpected and challenging, but luckily it has still been circus-filled. My favorite moment this year has been producing a virtual winter fundraiser for the San Francisco Circus Center. I have been able to work with such a wide variety of people thus far (from youth circus members/professional circus performers who are alumni of our very program to amazing other circus artists willing to participate). It has been so fun to explore these different avenues of circus and take on such an amazing role in my community.

Rachel Ostrow

Tessa Wallington: To say this year has been different for everyone, would be a wild understatement. Like the rest of the world, Covid-19 has affected everyone in the circus community in some way or another. I have been extremely lucky during this time and able to continue my training at both my studios — in a safe and socially distanced manner. Both Le PeTiT CiRqUe and Trapeze Las Vegas have offered me an escape during this challenging time. In fact, I have found two of my new favorite specialties! My studio in Las Vegas moved their space to an outside circus lot this year, and through this change, I have been able to train new things I never would have been able to try if we were still inside. I have trained an act on both the Wheel of Death and the flying trapeze. My favorite moment from this year would definitely be achieving my double on the flying trapeze. I worked so hard to reach my goals in flying trapeze, and although I have such a long way to go, I am seeing amazing progress and look forward to continuing my flying trapeze career along my circus journey.

Tessa Wallington

From the Coach’s Perspective: Adapting with Creativity for Distant Learning

By Mira Gurock

This year has been a whirlwind for all circus communities. In a world that has had to make so many adjustments to function in any capacity, the very basics of what it means to coach has been turned upside down. I was able to reach out to a diverse group of circus coaches to ask what their experience has been like spotting, demonstrating, and instructing in these unprecedented times. 

When asked about the challenges of coaching under these conditions, T Lawrence-Simon, a Boston-based circus performer and coach responded by saying, “Honestly, the most challenging part is that I have a very hard time hearing most of my students. As a former theater person, I am quite used to and capable of speaking in a slightly more boisterous and enunciated manner. Not everyone is good at/trained at that, and not knowing exactly what my student is saying puts me on alert, cause if they are saying they are hurt or unsure of something, I need to know”. 

Zoë Heywood, a coach and performer for Moody Street Circus, has also experienced challenges. She said, “The first thing that comes to mind is setting expectations and…helping students navigate a whole new way our circus can and must operate! Guiding them through their expectations about returning to the air after a 4-9 month hiatus has also proved challenging as an empathetic human! Some come in mentally ready and expecting to pick up where they left off, which is dangerous, and others are very hard on themselves about what they have lost which is self-defeating”. 

Marlon Archer, a coach at NECCA (New England Center for Circus Arts), offered his perspective on coaching online. For him, the hardest part about coaching online is, “Probably camera positioning for online coaching.  Sometimes it’s a really awkward struggle to get the right angle.  There’s also a time delay that makes cueing less effective”. 

Quarantine has also offered an exceptional creative challenge for coaches. They have been forced to step out of their comfort zone and make adaptions to their regular coaching regimen. 

When asked about this, Lawrence-Simon responded by saying, “There are so many skills that I’m just not teaching right now, because it wouldn’t be safe to have someone try it for the first MANY times unspotted”. 

Heywood recalled how things changed quickly this past spring.  “The biggest adaptation was beginning to work on ZOOM when things first shut down. Inspiring students to train on their own at home has been a fun challenge. I developed motivating challenges for pull ups, core work and flexibility – motivating my student base from afar and online”. 

Archer has adapted his coaching style to be more expressive, “I’ve started using a lot more gestures, and sounds.”

Finally, spotting has always been an important part of coaching, but as Lawrence-Simon put it, “I mean, there is no spotting…so there’s that”. 

Heywood responded by explaining how her family-owned studio has delt with the issue of spotting: “As a small family business we get to know each one of our students very well. We require students to keep an open mind on communication and feedback with us, discussing their strengths, weaknesses, fears, goals etc! My coaching style is predicated on building body awareness so that my students can move through pathways confidently that do not require spotting.”. 

Archer, who focuses mainly on coaching hand balancing and partner Acro, was asked how he has been spotting his students: “[You] can’t do it!  Safety lines are an option for some things.  Otherwise it’s a lot of mats and careful progression”

As a student in my circus community, I have felt such immense gratitude for my coaches over these past eight months. They have worked quickly and creatively to adapt in order to keep their students passionate. As we transition into the new year, it is important to recognize the people in our community that have worked so hard to keep our lives feeling as normal as possible. Make it a mission of yours to reach out to your coaches, staff and fellow circus-ing community members and express your gratitude towards them for all the effort they have made over the course of this wild year. 

Performing Arts During the Pandemic

By Lacy Gragg

Circus Harmony’s virtual show The Balancing Act

Performing arts have had to adapt and create new ways of performing due to the Corona virus. These include social distance shows, virtual shows, and outdoor shows. This has led to different ways of training and communicating as well. I interviewed people from different circuses and other arts about what they are doing to stay safe while still performing during this time. While doing research for this article, I noticed that some places have canceled performances completely. One example is the Kansas ballet. They decided to cancel all of their shows including their annual nutcracker in an effort to keep their audience and performers safe, but they continue to teach classes. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, on the other hand, has been doing outdoor shows at different parks and neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are also offering live digital music broadcasted from their music hall.

I talked to people from two different circuses, Circus Harmony and Fern Street Circus. I also interviewed someone from a visual arts organization to get a broader perspective on what other arts are doing during this time. Circus Harmony is a social circus in St. Louis, Missouri. Fern Street Circus also is a social circus located in San Diego, California. Both offer a wide variety of circus classes including aerial, contortion, and juggling.

ArtScape Lebanon is a visual arts organization in Lebanon, Ohio. They teach art classes and workshops from painting to music journaling. “We offered outdoor classes at our building location with limited class size and mandatory masks” says Kristen who is on the board.  They also have been able to continue to plan art shows with other local organizations following social distancing guidelines. 

From Circus Harmony I interviewed Maddie, a teenage hula hopper and aerialist about their virtual show, The Balancing Act (you can watch the show here). They used zoom calls to communicate. Maddie felt that virtually it was harder to understand instructions in a clear way. She felt like it was also harder to draw attention to points that people wanted to make. She liked being able to re-record because she knew if she were to mess up a trick it was easy to fix by re-recording the video, but she also felt more stressed and rushed. Maddie talks about how performing without a live audience means that there is no feedback. She usually is able to tell by the response from the people watching what they like and don’t like. Then she is able to use this information in her next show and she can take out or add tricks accordingly. Prerecording before the show made it so that she had to predict what the audience would enjoy. Usually Maddie performs hoola hoops and sometimes aerials. Maddie says, “I’ve definitely had to focus on hoola hoops more since I don’t have access to an aerial rig at home.” She has also had more time to work on her juggling which is something she didn’t have much time for before quarantine. One thing she liked about performing this way was that “it challenged everyone to do something new that no one has ever done before.”

From Fern Street Circus, I interviewed Haragni, a contortionist. They performed a virtual show and also communicated through zoom. One of the disadvantages of training virtually that Haragni mentioned was that some of the students experienced internet troubles and some people didn’t have enough room in their house. An upside is that she was able to take more classes because there was no commute; everyone was able to get from one class to another quickly and it worked better around people’s schedules. Haragni talks about the differences that recording and performing without a live audience. She says, “You got to show the audience exactly what you want them to see. Not having a live audience certainly made me less nervous but performing live gives me a different type of energy, and it makes me want to do my skills even better.” With the pandemic she has had more time to focus on her leg and hip flexibility, an area that she feels she should improve. Haragni has also been able to learn how to juggle balls and is now working on juggling clubs. “Usually, I just do strict contortion acts. I used to only take one class a week, so that’s what I chose to focus on. But now, since I’m able to take more classes, I’m doing contortion, juggling and acro/dance. Next show, I’ll hopefully be doing a physical comedy act, fingers crossed.”

If you would like to support any of the organizations mentioned in this article, the links to donate are included below:

Circus Harmony:  

Watch Circus Harmony’s The Balancing Act here

Fern Street Circus: 

 ArtScape Lebanon:

Interview with Terry Crane – Part 2

By Julaine Hall

When we left off, Terry and I had just finished discussing circus in Costa Rica! You can go back to part one on the Hup Squad blog here and read the first half. Now, onto our final questions…

Terry Crane

J: Okay, so let’s see. What is your biggest joy of being a circus artist?
T: Um, that’s a hard one to narrow down because I really like I guess, you know, there’s really two sides to it. I really enjoy the process of creating circus. The collaborative process of getting ideas from everyone and that kind of like — those moments of kind of Eureka! When everybody feels like they are bought in to the same idea.
J: Oh.
T: Then, also like the hard conversations too. Like that feeling a level of engagement from everybody is really satisfying to me, and then also drives me crazy sometimes (both chuckle). Um, so I really enjoy the process side of it. That, like, really charges my battery. And then I would also say that I really enjoy the kind of product side of it as well. Of, a, like doing a show. Like being on stage. Kind of like that, that moment of really being in my body. Of not having to think about what I’m doing. Um, and feeling like the audience is really connecting with me. Um, and then, yeah, I just that feeling of instant feedback for my own kind of state of like, of my own mind/body togetherness. Like, do I, do I do a trick and the audience responds well to that or do I, you know, do I trip and then, and then, um, sort of embrace that and like the audience, you know, laughs at it is such a kind of intimate relationship. So that, that part feels really special to me too.
J: Oh yeah, totally! Awesome. Yeah, those points all definitely make sense. Yeah, circus is just – it’s super cool. There’s so much that you can do with it.
T: Yeah. How about you? How ‘bout you, Julaine? Like what’s the most significant or the most joyful part of making circus for you?
J: Oh, huh, probably the, let’s see. I really like getting out and like, going out and just like training really hard and—
T: Yeah.
J: Then stumbling upon something. And sort of like taking a break from like, so, I’ll be training something and sort of make a mistake and then I’ll say, like that was actually sort of cool. So, then, I’ll go back and refine it —
T: Yeah.
J: And then maybe I’ll have a new skill or a new sequence or maybe it’s just like stepping up to the pole in a different way but it —
T: Oh, yeah.
J: A different way to display how you feel.

T: Oh man, yeah.
J: Yeah, and what’s funny–
T: Yeah, the happy accidents.
J: Yeah.
T: That’s totally magical.
J: Yeah, happy accidents. It’s definitely. That’s the perfect way to describe it. (Both chuckle) Nice.
T: That’s how Bob Ross talks about it, the painter.
J: Oh yeah, the little trees. Uh. Funny stuff. (Both chuckle) Yeah, we’re all just circus artists, and Bob Ross is just a circus artist with a paint brush.
T: Exactly, exactly. (Both chuckle)
J: That’s funny.
J: Okay, so this one is –what is the hardest thing or the biggest struggle to being a circus artist?
T: Okay, okay. Um, let’s see. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. The hardest thing about being a circus artist is: Well, I would say that, I mean obviously, money can be a struggle. Collaboration can be very difficult. Finding work can be really difficult. But, I would have to say that one of the most difficult things in my opinion is traveling can be really hard. Um, to like create community and personal relationships with people sometimes because, because. For whatever reason most of the world, um, is really, really set on being sedentary and like having one address. Um, but when you’re a performer, generally it makes the most sense to travel a lot ‘cuz you’re always chasing the audience, right?
J: Oh yeah.
T: You can’t just stay in one city because everybody’s gonna see your show and then you got no more audience. In theory. That’s the theory, I guess.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: Unless you have a model like Teatro Zinzanni, where you’re really pulling in the audiences forever.
J: Yeah.
T: Um, but, yeah, and I mean it’s one of the most fun things too, I really like touring. Um, but then when you are kind of constantly, you always have like, a little bit of like a timeline. Um, you know for me I’m in Seattle, generally. Right now it’s an exception because we’re in the pandemic. But, I’m usually like yeah, uh, in a month or two I’m gonna have to leave, um, so (clears throat), so like relationships and friendships kind of have to be put on hold or become, you know, kind of long distance. Um, so, I don’t know, yeah, that’s, that I think has been my experience if I’m really honest about it.
J: Yeah.
T: Yeah.

J: For sure. Yeah, traveling seems like it would be the hardest part. ‘Cuz I feel like all the other stuff is or when you know society builds up a, um, like a sort of, you know, and you kind of have to go against the grain in order to keep the work coming in you know, it might be challenging, it might be discouraging seeing society just be able to stay and do this stuff but then, oh, but I have to move to get my job. You know what I mean?
T: Yeah.
J: Yeah.
T: Yeah exactly.
J: (interrupts) – but it might mean
T: yeah – society is just not set up that way, unfortunately.
J: Yeah.
T: What were you gonna say?
J: Oh, I was just gonna say that it probably makes it way more rewarding though sometimes too.
T: Totally. Yeah, really fun – to go lots of different places.
J: Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Let’s see. Okay, this one should be fun. What do you have more fun as – the student or the teacher?
T: Hmm. Uh, both, I really like both. Although, um, I don’t know, I think probably teacher, right now. Um, I just really like the sound of my own voice.
J: (Laughs)
T: (Laughs) No, um, really like, um, helping someone unlock a skill like that moment of, um, of kind of going from not being able to do a thing, like I cannot do a thing, and then at some point somebody can do it. And, being able to be a part of that process is so fun!
J: Nice. Yeah that makes sense. That’s super cool. I feel like there are lots of times when you know that could fluctuate. Like maybe take a lesson from someone and they’re super good and you’re like, oh my gosh this is awesome, and then they leave and you have to try to learn stuff on your own and then you’re like, now being a student isn’t so much fun. And, then you find someone you can teach and then you’re like, yes, being a teacher is fun! And then that person leaves and you find another coach and then you’re like being the student is fun. And so on it goes.
T: Yeah, totally. Being a student is also so fun because I don’t know, I really like that phase in the beginning of learning when you, when you acquire skills quickly. It’s the 80/20 thing. You know, you acquire 80% of the skills in 20% of the time. So, it’s so satisfying in the beginning when you know, it’s like, when things come really easily.
J: Oh yeah.
T: Yeah, love that.

J: Yeah, it’s so – like the crash after is very disappointing.
T: Yeah.
J: Like for me, when I started pole when I was like 11, right.
T: Yeah.
J: And, at 13 I felt very stationary in my skills.
T: Yeah.
J: And I was like, well, this is a bummer. Then I started rope and I was like, yeah! Skills!
T: Yeah.
J: Then, I went to Smirkus and lost all my pole skills and had to gain them all back.
T: Uh huh. Yeah.
J: And, I was kind of like, I’m kind of at the same spot with both of these. And then I started straps and I was like, yeah!
T: Yeah, totally
J: So, it’s just like moving all the time.
T: Yeah, I know, so fun before you get to the plateau, then it’s just like floggin’ through it. But, I guess that can be satisfying in a different way, I s’pose.
J: True. Yeah, just not as like, boom, boom – the skills.
T: Yeah.
J: Yeah, awesome. And, I was gonna say, I think I know the answer to this question but maybe not. Do you find more joy in working alone or with others?
T: Um, I guess, it depends. I would say that for the most part I really enjoy working with others. Um, um, like training with other people is really satisfying. Um, especially when it comes to aerial, I find, because I kind of don’t really want to climb up a thing and do something really hard if no one else is going to witness it. (Both chuckle). I find. Um, but. But, then, sometimes sometimes, you know there’s nothing like putting on music and getting into your own little world and uh, being able to have your own little dance party and not worry about whatever anybody else is, you know, thinking. Sometimes that can be really nice too. You know I have been doing slack rope a little bit in my house actually. And, that’s been really fun to kind of get into that and blast my music and, and do my own thing.
J: Yeah, yeah ‘cuz it’s even more secluded then you know training at the park because it’s just your place.

T: Yeah, totally.
J: Nice. Totally agree.
T: (Chuckles)

J: Oh, let’s see. Darn it. I really shouldn’t have done this out of order. Aww, there we go, So – What do you think that circus artists have or can contribute to society that Muggles don’t or can’t?
T: Wow! Are you gonna say Muggles in this interview?
J: (Chuckles) Uh, Muggles, yeah.
T: Right on. (Laughs) Cool. This is gonna be controversial, Julaine. I can’t wait to read this.
J: Sweet.
T: What do we have to contribute to society? OMG, so many things. I think that, um, inspiration, obviously. I think that people see what we do and they get inspired and they say, I can do that or do something. It’s, it’s kind of an antidote to despair, perhaps, seeing ordinary humans do extraordinary things – physically and maybe sort of inspiring them on a metaphorical level too.
J: Yeah.
T: So, I like that. I also think it’s also important that people remember that they have bodies and that it’s joyful to use their bodies in non-competitive, athletic ways. Um, expressive ways. Um, because I think that, you know, we are becoming a very knowledge-based society and the ways that we do use our bodies tend to be, you know, sports and um, very quantitative things and circus is not that. That is an important thing. And, then one more…I could go on and on about this. But, one more is that we live in a world where, even before the pandemic, live theater attendance was kind of diminishing. And, circus has a very unique thing to bring to live performance which is that aspect of risk – physical risk and you know, that risk of failure in a certain kind of way, you know and I think that is kind of electrifying for audiences. And, I think that it really makes them want to come and all gather in one room. Um, which is a really important thing for all humans to do. You know, Netflix and all that digital entertainment will only get us so far. I think we gotta, we gotta come together as a community, to you know, to really remember what it is to be a human being too.
J: Totally. Wow, that was really, really well-said. Nice!
T: (Chuckles) Wow, thanks.
J: Well, of course, we are doubly isolated because of Covid. But —
T: Yeah.
J: But the isolation of, um, like people. If you just think about the ‘60’s and now, like neighbors would be like, “how’s it goin’ man?” They’d talk all the time. And they’d talk all the time and now it’s like “hey, t’s up?” Maybe once a week, if anything.
T: Yeah, yeah. Totally. Yeah, that makes me think of like a neighbor leaning over the fence and chattin’ to his neighbor. Yeah, it’s really sad, you know, people just not hangin’ out as much. So, yeah. Circus has got that going for it. In a lot of ways too. You know, like in training we have to come together and in performing.
J: Yeah. To make circus happen it’s a lot of really hard tasks.
T: Exactly.

J: And you kind of need a lot of people’s help to make it work.
T: Yeah.
J: Like, can I hang on this? Oh, I should consult somebody. And, that person you’re collaborating with and once you figure out you can hang on it, “Great, I’m gonna train.” Uh, I don’t feel motivated. Hey, let’s get a training buddy.
T: Yeah. Exactly.
J: Then you’re like, Wanna make a show?
T: Yeah, yeah. Totally It’s a —must be present to win– kind of thing.
J: Totally. Awesome. I was gonna ask, do you have anything else that you want the — the audience for this article is AYCO members. So, yeah, if you have anything in particular that you think that audience should know, this is a very good time to share.
T: Hmm. One thing that I would say is that I think that it is very important for anyone who wants to be an artistic creator, like an artistic director, or an artistic creator of their own expressive work, I think it is really important for them to see as much of their art and live art in general as possible. Because, um, your case is going to grow and you’re going to be aware of what’s out there and what’s possible and what kinds of things you can imitate or improve upon, or respond to. So, I think if you can go and see contemporary dance, if you can see theater, if you can see spectacle. Um, if you can see circus shows. And, also, you know read, like actual books (both chuckles), you know. Really important and, you know, experience art in whatever form is available to you because all of that is going to, I think, influence what you do, make it richer.
J: Totally, awesome.
T: It’s a lot.
J: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Nice.
T: Cool.
J: Yeah, that was super awesome. I really appreciate it!
T: You’re super awesome.
J: Thanks. Well, you’re super awesome!
T: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to, you know, feel like I’ve got something to share.
J: Well, you definitely do! (Both laugh)
T: Awesome, well, I think I’m going to go to the beach and see if I can do some slack rope between two trees.
J: Heck yeah, sounds like fun!
T: (Chuckles) Cool.

J: Yeah, I’m going to go out and train a little more Pole. Circus beings going out and doing more circus.
T: Nice. Awesome! Well, um, I hope that you don’t get too cold and that you’re still up for some more Pole. You’ve got some pretty amazing endurance.
J: Thank you. I appreciate it.
T: (Chuckles) Alright. Cool, Julaine! I’ll see you soon.
J: Sounds good. See you later!
T: Alright. Bye.
J: Bye.
Phone hangs up.
J: (Whispers) Terry is so cool!

That is a wrap to Terry’s interview! If you’d like to learn more about Terry, check out Acrobatic
Conundrum’s website:
His Instagram: @thekidontherope
And his Facebook:

Interview with Terry Crane – Part 1

By Julaine Hall

In this exciting blog post, I had the privilege to interview the famous Terry Crane! He is a Seattle native, a performer known the world over, founder and artistic director of Acrobatic Conundrum, and a kind person! Over phone I was able to ask him lots of questions about his life of circus and creativity. His adventures and opinions are very inspiring. We talked so long this article is a two-parter! Stay tuned for the second half coming out shortly. Without further ado… Interview with Terry Crane, part one!

Terry Crane

J: What is your main discipline?
T: My main discipline is climbin’ ropes!
J: Sick! And, how long have you been doing circus?
T: Um, I began doing circus in 1999, no that’s not true, it was 2000. It was 2000.
J: Nice, cool, cool! And what was the first circus thing that you did and how old were you when you tried it.
T: Well, I thing officially, I started juggling when I was like 13. But basically the first aerial thing I tried in the aerial world was static trapeze.
J: Nice.
T: Yeah, and I really liked it but I really wanted to get into rope.
J: Groovy, okay, cool, cool! What made you attracted to rope?
T: Oh man, there was something kind of magical about it and I couldn’t figure out how the person doing it was, um, was doing all these different wraps. There was something quite mysterious about it and I just really wanted to wrap my head around it. And, actually the first time I saw rope was in a circus show at my college, Oberlin College, and someone was performing and I saw this act with this kind of puzzle-like quality to it and I thought , OMG, I just need to figure out how to do that.

J: Nice, oh sweet, Let’s see what was the first circus school/and or company and or circus group that you were affiliated with?
T: Um, good question and what do you mean by that? Like that I was hired by as a professional or as a -(speaking over – indistinct)
J: I just mean who you trained under or worked for, basically what group did you start in?
T: Well, what group did you start in?
J: I guess I’d say I started in 1-Ders (the youngest performing group, ages 5-8, at my circus school, SANCA).
J: Nice, okay, cool, cool, cool. What other groups have you been a part of?
T: Word. Umm. Wow, okay. Fairly long list.
J: Yeah.
T: When I was at ENC I collaborated with 7 Fingers a little bit.
J: Sweet.
T: And then when I finished ENC I was part of a collaboration called Honolulu Punch.
J: Oh, cool.
T: That was all other ENC grads. And then after that got a contract with Circus Starlight in Switzerland. Um, oh then, I came back and I worked with Kevin O’Connor on a show called the Sunlight Zone.
J: Oh, nice.

T: It was another very collaborative, kind of grass roots thing.
J: Cool.
T: And, after that, oh my gosh, I don’t know. I went to China and I studied at the Beijing International Arts School. Um, doing more acrobatics.
J: Oh, sick!
T: And, I worked a little bit in Thailand as well. Um, Then I got a job, uh, working for a circus in Finland. Um, I might need to spell this for you. Um, It was called “talvisirkus huurjaruuth”
J: (Laughs)
T: Yeah. Um, and, then I worked for Circus Flora in St. Louis. Then I went and worked for Teatro Zinzanni a few times. I was in like 6 different shows at Zinzanni. 4 kids shows and 2 main shows.
J: Nice.
T: Yeah, that, like took a long time for me to kind of break into that, um, little mold there at Teatro Zinzanni.
J: Most of the time when you look up “Terry Crane” on the internet what you’ll find is your Teatro Zinzanni act where you do it to Paper Planes and you have the glasses and the collared shirt. It’s so funny!
T: Oh yeah, man, I did that act for so long, for some many years! Um, let’s see. Oh yeah, that reminds me that I performed at Moisture Festival for like 6 or 7 years. And then I also did another Swiss circus, I was at Circus Monti.
J: Oh yeah.
T: And, um, I’ve done lots of corporate events. And, then yeah, I formed my own company, Acrobatic Conundrum. And, that’s all the stuff I can think of right now.
J: Awesome! Well, that’s super cool.
J: This one here is kind of deep. What five or so most meaningful projects have you been a part of?
T: It was the second show that I did with Circus Syzygy with Ben Wendel, Rachel Nehmer, Marieve Dicaire, Giulio Lanzafame, and Mick Holsbeck, all those guys.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: When we went to France. We were all living in trailers around this one friend’s circus space called “la grainerie” and we — and it was so good and, like, because we were all the time we were talking about our ideas. And we actually took this contract with Circus Monti before we did this show and for the whole year, you know we probably did 300 shows for Circus Monti and all 6 of us were there and we’d have these meetings where we would just talk and talk about our ideas. And, we also just got to know each other really well too, over the course of that year.
J: Oh, nice.

T: And, then we, when we were in France we were working really hard on it. We had this theater like 24/7, like for 2 months. Then we finally performed it. And so it was really good! It was also really difficult because we didn’t have a director.
J: Oh.
T: So, we were like, all the director, in a way. And we were constantly trying to get our own way. And, um, so that was really hard. And, in some ways I think that that made it so we had to take a break from working together, because we were all kind of wrapped up in our own view points and it had just been such a difficult process. Um, and that we kind of had to—well, I’ll just speak for myself. For me personally, I was like, okay I gotta take a little break from this.
J: Oh yeah, I gotcha. Makes sense.
T: Yeah.
J: Yeah, cool, cool. Thank you.
T: Wait, you said top 5, right.
J: Yeah, top 5. If you can’t like narrow it down to one, then like top 5 or so.
T: Okay, let me give you a couple of more meaningful experiences.
J: Sweet.
T: Um, I have really enjoyed making my own work with Acrobatic Conundrum.
J: Oh yeah!
T: Um, performing “Love and Gravity” has been really — was really meaningful and getting to tour that to different circus communities. And, something that I love about that show was the way that we got to
interact with the audience. And in some ways we got to kind of make them be part of the show. That was always really fun for me. And, then another really meaningful one was, shoot, drawing a blank. Well, I’ve done some pretty meaningful street shows. Um, which I think have been really fun because it’s pretty magical to perform for someone who was not really expecting to see a show.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: Um, yeah, so working with like Melissa Knowles and doing some street shows has been super fun. Oh yeah, and so I have also traveled to Costa Rica and done some collaborations with the Costa Rican circus
community there.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: And that has been really meaningful for me too to be able to like share um, kind of like my flavor of circus and represent you know, North American circus, and also to, to get to see what they do and also
to merge that on some different collaborations.
J: Nice. That’s super cool.
T: Yeah.

J: And, I’m going to ask a bit about the Costa Rican circus community you’ve been a part of. Is, um, when you say, like, represent North America. Do you do, is there, um, I know there is sort of like, uh, American, you know Everybody has the idea of American circus that’s like the ring circus, or like Trad circus in a way, you know.
T: Yeah.
J: Then there’s like the more European circus which is like, um, sometimes Trad but also sometimes more Contemporary, and much more, I don’t know, seems a bit more from the heart, you know.
T: Mm-hmm.
J: And so, what would you say is the Costa Rican circus vibe?
T: Oh, okay, um. Well, I would say that Central America has a really strong contemporary dance theme.
J: Nice.
T: And, theater as well. And, I think circus is like relatively young there. Um, so I think that in some ways, um, they feel – well, and you also have the traditional circus, um, you know, thing going on there too. They have tented circuses there that travel there from Mexico and other places so there’s
definitely that vibe. And, a lot of people would, I think, still associate circus with that kind of traditional format. But, then there is also kind of an up and coming kind of aerial dance scene and circus that is really influenced by contemporary dance and that is just more abstract and in some ways pretty dark too. But, always like very acrobatic, um, as well and super, super like intense, I would say. Yeah. Also a lot of heart. My experience working with, um, with like the aerial dance community which is mostly
based around a school called “Danzaire.”
J: Oh cool.
T: Um, it’s been like, yeah, just like a lot of heart and soul there too.
J: Nice. Sweet! Thank you.
T: Yeah.

On that note, we will end the first half of this interview! Tune in for Terry’s opinion on what is the most rewarding and most difficult thing about being a circus artist, what young people wanting to be circus artists should be doing, and other burning questions!

If you’d like to learn more about Terry, check out Acrobatic Conundrum’s website:
His Instagram: @thekidontherope
And his Facebook: