This is an insanely impressive group of kids…but I say that each year I leave the annual summer show from Circus Juventas. And it isn’t just because they perform daring feats that defy gravity and leave me awestruck; sometimes cringing until I release my breath and break out into applause. We’re talking the weight of chiseled teenage boys being held by petite (and impressively chiseled) teen girls …both attached by only the tops of their flexed feet…while dangling high in the air! I can only imagine the dramatic highs and lows these kids’ parents must go through during each show because I am swinging between pride and hyperventilation throughout the night.
As a community, we should all be proud that an organization like Circus Juventas exists locally. This St. Paul non-profit has been giving area kids, teens and young adults a place to dedicate themselves to something creative and empowering for 20-years. Their performing arts school is the largest of its kind in the country and emerges the ‘under 21 crowd’ into the circus experience.
Beginning students of Circus Juventas can learn basics like acrobatics, aerial techniques and juggling in a safe space that allows them to also showcase their theatrical talents. Advanced students (the ones you’ll see at the summer shows like ‘Neverland’), kick up the skill-level by flying through the air from teeterboards onto one another shoulders, doing handstands on tiny platforms over fire, and contorting their bodies while hanging from a spinning cube high above the crowd.
But more important than learning to hang from a silk by just your ankle, Circus Juventas teaches kids how to work hard, be disciplined and share a team mentality. From the audience, you can not only see the physical strength and athleticism in each of the students, but you can see the confidence that exudes in each of their performances. They’ve worked extremely hard. They’re crazy talented. And the pride to be able to share it with the audience is palpable.
It is also inspiring to see each young performer relying on other youth to be there to catch them on the trapeze or to carry their body weight in a balancing act. Talk about an invaluable gift to take with them into adulthood… they can rely on the help of others, yet are strong enough to handle daring situations on their own as well.
The summer production for 2014, ‘Neverland’ is only around until August 17th and should not be missed. Over 60 advanced performers bring the story of Peter Pan to life with fun-loving artistry, humor and whimsy. The style of Circus Juventas is very ‘Cirque du Soleil’ so you won’t find any big cats here. But you will find Tinkerbell and other high-flying fairies, a swashbuckling Captain Hook and his mischievous pirate gang, and of course, Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up. New acts will be showcased in this year’s summer production, including human juggling, a lyrical duo straps act and a fire dance routine.
To purchase tickets for a remaining ‘Neverland’ show, go to www.ticketworks.com or call the Circus Juventas box office at 651.699.8229. Performanc es run until August 17, 2014 and show times vary. All seats are reserved and prices depend upon age of attendee and section you are sitting in.
If you aren’t able to catch this summer’s run of ‘Neverland’, you can enjoy a table-side encore performance at their annual gala. Not only will you get to see the amazing talent up close, but you can support future Circus Juventas programs. The gala happens November 7, 2014. Tickets to attend are discounted to $125 each when purchased during the show’s run and can be bought in Circus Juventas’ lobby at 1270 Montreal Avenue in St. Paul. After August 17, tickets will be $150 each and may be purchased online at www.circusjuventas.org.