Welcome to the Social Circus Foundation Blog!

The Social Circus Foundation INC is a nonprofit (501c3) which raises funds to support programs utilizing circus as a tool for social change.  Most of the recipients of these funds have limited resources and economic, physical or mental challenges. The funds serve as a clearinghouse for scholarships and to educate and study the application of circus in non-traditional settings. 

Board Members:

Board Chair
Dave Schroeder
Executive Director, Kenton County Public Library

Secretary
Cherie Haas
Online Editor
ArtistNetwork.com

Sara Warner
Recreation Therapist
St. Elizabeth Hospital

Treasurer
Jason Deller
Guardian Savings Bank
Mortgage Loan Advisor

Sean Sweeney
Assistant Vice President and Director – Information Technology at
Cincinnati Insurance Company

Louis (“Tres”) Kutcher PhD
Chair, Biology Department at University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College

 

The Corporation intends to provide three main programs that will use the circus as a tool for social change and in medical settings:

1-   Approximately one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on using circus to improve the lives of the mentally and physically disabled. The Foundation has already partnered with Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio to provide programming for hospitalized children, and hopes to expand to other medical non-profits in the future.

2-   Another approximately one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on vocational training. The Foundation will provide will provide job training and skill sets focused on the circus industry to the underprivileged in an effort to give them the tools they need to sustain livelihood and be productive members of society.

3-   The remaining one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on education. Specifically, the foundation will study the impact of social circus in medical settings and as a tool for social change. The data collected will be used to study impact of circus on an individual’s mental and physical health, and to support social circus work in group homes, detention centers, and medical facilities.

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Joey’s Story: Germany 2016

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In 2012 Joey met Circus Mojo as a patient at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the waiting room of Orthopaedics, where he learned a few tricks and convinced his amazing mom to let him join the circus. Fast forward four years . . . Joey is  out of Ortho and on tour with us in Germany. 

I loved my visit to Germany with Circus Mojo and Pimparello. This was my first time out of the country and only my second time on an airplane. I was so excited when the creators of Mojo and Pimparello invited me on this trip. I spent the summer training, preparing and saving money for this amazing experience. It was worth every bit of hard work.

I had so much fun at Pimparello and learned a lot of new skills and tricks. I loved the training and getting to learn new styles and arts I had never seen or had the opportunity to learn in America. I especially liked learning the European style of juggling, which is much more energized than American juggling. I enjoyed seeing the landscape and scenery of the beautiful country and I made plenty of friends over there. I loved learning how to do two diabolos and learning how to juggle four balls.

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I loved performing with Pimparello in multiple beautiful locations in Germany. We visited two waterparks and major cities like Stuttgart. We got to try German food and drinks. Everything there was carbonated, even the water. We tried many German candies. My favorite was Milka Milka Oreos, which is a chocolate bar with Oreos in it. What we call a Milky Way Bar is called a Mars Bar in Germany.joey-6

Germany is much cleaner than America. It was rare to see litter or gum on the ground. It was cooler there but it made it easier to perform since you did not sweat as much. I will definitely take warmer clothes though if I get the opportunity to go back since it would get really cool while sleeping in the tent.

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I made incredible friendships with the Americans I traveled with, as well as the Germans, refugees and people from all over the world who I met. I learned a little bit of the German language and experienced a lot of the culture.

Overall my trip to Germany was amazing and educational, not only in circus arts but in culture. I would love to go again in two more years and do it all again.

Visit Joey’s blog to learn more about his experience with Circus Mojo at Cincinnati Children’s.

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George’s Story: Germany 2016

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George is a freshman at Thomas B. Doherty High School in Colorado Springs and a fifteen-year-old acrobat whose dynamic  flips wowed the crowds in Germany. He traveled with us as a guest artist from Salida Circus. Billed as “Colorado’s most unique circus troupe,” Salida Circus has a professional troupe along with social circus outreach development, which makes them a perfect partner for both Circus Mojo and Circus Pimparello.

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When my boss, Jennifer, from Salida Circus got the text from Paul about Germany, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was hesitant to join a Kentucky circus that was a three-hour flight from my home and then take another flight to Europe. Getting the chance to go to Germany was amazing, though, even if I was nervous.

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It was a pain in the butt getting to Germany, yet it all paid off in the end. I improved my ball juggling and tumbling and matured quite a bit. A few of my funniest stories have come from this trip, ranging from getting a bad haircut to slipping in the mud and accidentally eating some. The point is that not only does the trip here benefit my skills, my trade,and my maturity but it also has taught me important values and life lessons, all while having fun.

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What I’ve noticed about Circus Mojo and Circus Pimparello members is that all of them are young people who are getting the opportunities they need to work and learn in an expressive outlet–CIRCUS! This is a rarity in today’s world. I’m glad to be a part of such an important project and hope to participate again.    

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Shay’s and Liam’s Story: Germany 2016

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The Sweeney brothers, Shay and Liam, each tell about their second adventure to Germany with Circus Mojo.

Shay is a senior at St. Henry’s High School who earned a perfect score on his ACT, an obvious result of his brain’s increased gray matter from juggling. Bound for the Ivy League, he decided to run away with us to Circus Pimparello for one more summer.

I’m thrilled to be back at Pimparello again after two years. Germany is very much like I remember it, but this trip feels like a fresh new experience. When I arrived here on the first day, I was overjoyed to see the beautiful Circus Haus, the stunning performance tents, and even the now hairless alpacas. The forests surrounding Pimparello are gorgeous and the stars at night are crystal clear, but I was most excited to catch up with all the friends I left behind two years ago and forge new friendships that span oceans and continents.

 

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Being here makes me realize the power that art has to bring people with different languages, different cultures, and different ideas together as a team. These people and this art truly demonstrate the meaning of social circus and make it much easier to tolerate the less comfortable aspects of life at Pimparello, such as the cold mornings and the schnecken.

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My time here has taught me many valuable lessons in teamwork, understanding, and friendship. My best wishes go out to Sven and his incredible social circus. He certainly deserves a peaceful rest in Dominica after twenty years of working to change the world for the better.

Liam is a sophomore at St. Henry’s High School who shares his brother’s aptitude for learning and  juggling, but as you will read, he definitely has his own written voice, personal charm, and point of view. 

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This is Liam coming at you from Rapenhoff, Germany, on the bus ride back to Circartive Pimparello. Today, Tuesday, August 16, 2016, was a performance day. We left camp early this morning and headed to perform in front of the Cathedral in Ulm. We set up for the show and preformed the acts that we’ve been creating and learning for the past two weeks. After the show, we broke into groups and headed into Ulm with an opportunity to shop. Now we are headed back to camp for dinner.

These past two weeks have been a lot of fun for everyone. During the first week, we trained with kids from all over Europe in the Bausteine, giving us the eligibility to teach circus skills in Europe. During the European Youth Camp, we met a lot of people we will always remember and created memories that will last the rest of our lives, whether it be taking classes, dancing at parties, or staying up late at the campfires. Then the week came to a close and our groups went separate ways. Those who stayed at Circartive Pimparello prepared the camp for the children who would soon become our students.

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As we started week two, each of the teamers (counselors) received a tent to care for with a fellow teamer. The real work began. Starting Monday, each of us took on two classes, which we taught with a German teamer. I taught club juggling and ball juggling, Shay taught balance and diabolo, Marilyn taught chair/table acrobatics and lyra, Tate taught stilts and tight wire, George taught dynamic acrobatics and dance acrobatics, and Julia taught silks and German wheel. During this week, we taught our campers our skills and helped them create acts, and at the end of the week, we started performances. We have performed at Schwäbisch Hall, Ulm Cathedral, the Circus Haus, and for the families of the campers. We have also had fun, themed days like Renaissance Day, where we dressed up as people from the Middle Ages and had a Middle Age market, and American Day, where we cooked and had burgers and milkshakes. Now we are almost back to the camp. This is Liam, signing off.  ~xoxo~

 

 

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Tate’s Story: Germany 2016

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Tate is a Ludlow native who is now living and learning in Germany thanks to a decade-long partnership between Circus Mojo and Circus Pimparello. Starring and performing with us since 2010, she received the opportunity to study abroad for the next year at the CircArtive School. While her Kentucky peers have been in school a month, Tate started back to school this week. We miss her but know this milestone is simply wonderbar! 
It feels so good to be back in Germany! It feels like I never left in some ways, yet at the same time, it brings back memories I had forgotten. Now that I’m older and more mature, I have a better understanding of life in Rappenhof and the way Circus Pimparello works. I also have met many different kinds of people.
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A “vintage” shot of Tate’s many talents.

This year contrasts with the  last trip because there are about 15 refugees who are teenage boys living here along with the performers and visiting families. Most of the refugees don’t know anything about circus, which makes them unlike the rest of us but really great to work with since they have a completely different view than most circus performers.
Working with the refugees was difficult at first. For example, in wire walking class, they’d stand off to the side, not wanting to get on the wire. Once you’d tell them to give it a try, they’d take about two steps before giving up. That’s if they came to class. Most days I had to go up to their cabin and bring them to class.

 

Eventually I decided to try a new approach by showing off my tricks and then letting them try. I wanted to challenge them. When I knew they were watching, I’d perform a trick on the wire and wait for them to take a turn. We’d go back and forth like this until they started to actually try to walk the wire. After trying and failing a few times, the refugees pointed out my fancy wire shoes, letting me know they didn’t have good  shoes and suggesting this was the reason I could do more. So, I took off my shoes and did the same tricks barefoot.

 

This made the refugees more determined than ever. They’d closely watch my tricks and almost push me off the wire for their turn. They’d ask me to show my trick again and again, and they’d try and try until they got it. It was amusing to see them all flop and flail around trying to jump and do rolls over the wire.
As I was teaching them, they taught me too. I learned a lot about them without even talking and how to communicate and work with someone who doesn’t speak your language. Now I see them as friends, not the sad refugees some made them out to be. [Coincidentally, Pauly suggested referring to this group not as refugees but as “friends from other nations.”]
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Tate showing off her “barefoot” skills with Circus Mojo for the 2015 Major League Baseball All Star Celebration

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Amber’s Story: Germany 2016

unicornAmber is a freshman at Dixie Heights High School who grew up in Ludlow and has been with Circus Mojo for four years. She specializes in the trapeze and spent the past year honing this skill under the coaching of apprentice Rosa Groll of Stuttgart, Germany. Amber recently took her first airplane trip with us to Stuttgart, the nearest major city to Circus Pimparello.     

My trip to Germany was for a different reason than most people’s trips to Europe. Mine was to perform in the circus. As part of Circus Mojo, I was able to be a guest artist and camper at Circus Pimparello.  When I got there, it was so cool. It looked like a normal farm with pigs, chickens, horses and alpacas … until you saw the circus tents.

The first week was my favorite. You picked a circus skill you enjoyed and learned more about it.  I also really liked the trainers and meeting many students my age. By week two, the trainers and students from the first week had left and all new people arrived, which wasn’t all bad. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of people I’ll miss.

Sometimes the best things were the little things. The circus group I traveled with became closer and there were many funny quotes from our time together. One of the trainers named Mario made us laugh when he’d say, “It’s a stretch. You don’t give up. You reach,” to someone who wasn’t that flexible. Back-and-forth teasing between Mario and our group during stretch and strengthening classes became a running joke.

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A quick shot of many of the Mojo campers. L-R Lucas, George, Marilyn, Hope, Jesse (chaperone), Shay, Tate, Julia, Amber & Liam.

Performing f13925857_10154317859478758_1049089246692021955_oor me was the coolest. On our first Wednesday, Circus Pimparello held an open house in their big top. I was asked to perform my trapeze act but didn’t want to because I was scared. My trapeze teacher pushed me because she knew my strength and potential. She convinced me to perform, and I was happy she did. Everybody loved it!

I performed again on a lower trapeze at the swim club Bud-Spencer-Bad in Schwäbisch Gmünd. Many people recorded my act on their phones, yet I didn’t know it at the time. When we were back at the camp and I heard Panic! At the Disco’s “House of Memories” playing in the tents, I knew what had happened and thought, “Hey, that’s my song!”

The next time I performed was in the Circus House, or CircArtive Haus, which is Sven’s baby. It’s a beautiful space with real lighting. Afterwards Sven asked me on the mike how I felt about my sister Tate staying at their school for a year, and I answered, “I’ll miss her but that’s one less person in my house.” [Aside:  Circus Mojo and Sven have a hunch that the longer Tate is away, the more Amber will miss her Big Sis.]

In short, I had a great time in Germany and hope to do it again!

Amber on Trapeze from Paul Miller on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Julia’s Story- Germany 2016

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Julia, a talented dancer, juggler and acrobat in her junior year at Holy Cross High School, joined us on our three-week tour and cultural exchange in Germany with Circus Pimparello, a youth circus Pauly has partnered with for over a decade. She worked hard on her circus skills and at her summer job to take her very first flight on this trip of a lifetime.

Staying up late working at Dairy Queen—getting a variety of chocolate sauce and ice cream splattered on me—is so worth the three weeks I spent in Germany. It’s an experience I’ll never forget! I loved sleeping in circus tents, training, teaching, and meeting the amazing people at CircArtive Pimparello.

Some people might say that the hardest part about going to the circus camp would be the cold nights in the tents, that they were the last table to get food or that getting a shower was harder than expected. Although these things were hard for me to adjust to, the hardest part for me was saying goodbye to the friends I made. The girls that I took care of were awesome and funny. I’d tell them different things like which of the teamers (counselors) I had a crush on or what America was like, and in return, they’d teach me German. They taught me how to count to twenty.

14054526_10154344800398758_1913712237776516874_oThe teamers were also awesome people I could joke with as if I’d known them forever. They’d teach us many things about Pimparello and life in Germany and help translate when we had no clue what was going on. We had fun nights laughing in the tent and eating the leftover snacks that were provided at the end of the day’s team meetings. I loved teaching and training with them. All of the teamers were nice people I enjoyed spending the last weeks of summer and first days of school with.🙂

At the beginning of this trip, I was so nervous that I would have minor panic attacks and small breakdowns. I felt inferior in my circus skills and was scared to be thrown in with a group of people I didn’t know who spoke a different language. After the first few days, I knew I had definitely overreacted. It helped having my circus family with me. I learned that everyone there was being taught new things, even if they were all wickedly talented.gg

Now I’m on my way home and already miss Germany. I miss my new friends. I miss my campers. I miss the food. And I miss Tate (the human, not the tots). Tate is my Circus Mojo friend staying for a year at the CircArtive School, and I’m so proud of all that she has accomplished and will accomplish.

I’m sad to leave but excited to return home to my family, my friends, and my nice warm, comfy bed. I had an amazing time that I’ll never forget, and if I work hard enough, I’ll hopefully enjoy Pimparello again. While I write this on my long journey home knowing I need to wake up early for school tomorrow, I’m happy to share with you the best summer I’ve experienced thus far.14054544_1112595318785997_2263757787250008085_o

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“Changing the World” Inspired by…

Circus Mojo was recently honored by being included in a Buzzfeed article entitled, “17 Circuses that are Changing the World.” I am thrilled that our local and global efforts are being recognized. However, all of the circuses mentioned in this article are based in the United States. There are plenty of international circuses who are deserving of acknowledgement because they are more advanced at using circus to build their communities. I, Paul Miller, the founder of the Social Circus Foundation and owner of Circus Mojo, would like to take a few moments to recognize the circuses from around the world who have guided my work. Without their contributions and inspiration, my circus would not be the organization it is today.

I am a businessman who aims to earn a living by producing quality programming and adapting concepts from around the world to the marketplace of the USA.  The announcing of a Social Circus Initiative took place in Montreal before Cirque du Soleil was purchased by American and Chinese investors.  It’s not easy making a living and a difference. I am working to make the economic case for consumers in the USA to purchase circus and I wouldn’t be in business without the licensing and adapting of many of these ideas from the circuses on this list.  If you want to learn vocational skills from these leading circuses please join us at the Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center Low Profit Limited Liability Company that has licensed the ideas/concepts in exchange for equity in our center.

  1. CircArtive Pimparello , Germany 

I met Sven Alb, the founder of CircArtive Pimparello, in 2005.  Sven’s extraordinary leadership is the foundation that Circus Mojo and the Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center L3C is built upon.  Over the past 1o years, over 100 young people from the USA have been able to take their first flights thanks to Sven & Pimparello.  We’re fond of saying, “Join the circus see the world!”  For many, the hope of one day attending college was envisioned only by enlisting in the military. Thanks to Sven, the young people who have gone to Pimparello have earned over $1M in college scholarships. Thanks for changing the world, Pimparello!

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Circus Tent at Pimparello

 

2.  Debub Nigat (Southern Dawn) Circus-One Love TheatreAwassa Children’s Project , Ethiopia

I had the great fortune to meet Meshu Tamrat, one of the founders of the Awassa Children’s Project, a circus in Awassa, Ethiopia, when David Schien called one day.

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Debub Nigat Circus – One Love Theatre – Awassa Children’s Project in Ethiopia

I had sent circus equipment to Awassa many years before to honor Khalid, a refugee from the Sudan, one of my students who was killed in Chicago. Meshu’s work, training and connecting young people to productive lives is hard to imagine.  He taught youth at the Chicago Waldorf School and eventually the Nairobi Waldorf School and founded the Kibera Social Circus in the largest slum in Africa, located outside Nairobi.

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Top and bottom: Meshu and his work in Nairobi, Kenya. Middle: Meshu jumps over a line of people at Cirque De-Stress at the University of Minnesota.

 

3. Benposta: Spain, Mozambique, Belgium, Venezuela & More

El circo de los muchachos. Escuela internacional de circo de Benposta fundada por el Padre Jesús Silva utilizo el circo para conectarse con niños huérfanos a través de orfanatos en España, Mozambique, Bélgica, Venezuela y más. En los últimos meses hemos tenido el placer de agregar a Roberto A. Arego Bedevia, un ex director de una sucursal de la escuela de circo de Benposta a nuestro equipo. Junto con su esposa, Alina Domínguez- una exitosa coreógrafa y artista de equilibrio. Roberto ha contribuido a nuestro trabajo en el orfanato del norte de Kentucky.

El Circo de los Muchachos / International Circus School at Benposta, founded by Padre Jesús Silva Padre de Silva, used the circus to connect with orphans via boys homes in Spain, Mozambique, Belgium, Venezuela and more. Within the past few months, we have had the pleasure of adding Roberto A. Arego Bedevia, a former Director of the Venezuelan chapter of the Circus School of Benposta, to our staff. Along with his wife, Alina Dominguez- an accomplished choreographer and balance artist- Roberto has added to our existing work with the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky.

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Top: Roberto working on a pyramid with artists at Benposta. Bottom: image from one of Padre Silva’s original Benposta circuses.

 

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Letter of support for Roberto’s visa from the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky

 

 

4. Hidung Merah  Red Nose Foundation, Indonesia 

Dan Roberts is the founder of Hidung Merah. We met when I co-directed his collegiate circus production at Roosevelt University.  Upon graduation Dan joined the staff at CircEsteem and served many roles as mentor and eventually Associate Director.

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Dan Roberts as mentor beneath the stage at a Cirque do Soliel performance 2006 Chicago

Dan worked with Circus Smirkus and Clowns without Borders and then created an amazing circus in Jakarta, Indonesia.  He’s opened doors for thousands of youth in Indonesia and is building an incredible audience and network.  Dan is also the founder of the Asian Social Circus Association. He joined us on our first adventure with youth to CircArtive Pimparello  (Germany) in 2006, and he’s sent youth and staff to the USA to help launch the 1st International College Circus Festival. He has also sent youth to train and perform in Canada, Myanmar, and Poland.

 

5. Circo Volador, Mexico City-Mexico

Sharon Alvarez Miller ha trabajado con Circus Mojo por los últimos 5 años. Ella aprendió habilidades de circo como parte del programa Injuve financiado por el gobierno de la Ciudad de México para mantener a los jóvenes ocupados y fuera de las calles. Injuve financia proyectos y la formación profesional de los adolescentes. Entre los programas que Injuve ofrece se encuentran el desarrollo de habilidades en las artes gráficas, circo callejero, artes aéreas, hip-hop, etc. Circo Volador utiliza un teatro para las clases de circo además de conciertos y otros eventos.

Sharon Alvarez Miller has been working with Circus Mojo for the past five years.  She learned circus skills  at Circo Volador  where Injuve, a government-funded program, keeps young people busy and off the streets.  Injuve funds projects and vocational training for teens; if they show up on a regular basis for skills development in graphic arts, street circus, aerial arts, hip-hop, etc., participants earn a stipend. Circo Volador uses a theatre for circus classes around concerts and other events.

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Top: Sharon Miller performa aerial silks. Bottom: El Centro de Arte y Ventura Theatre

 

6. Casa de Artes y Circo ContemporaneoMexico City-Mexico

Un circo pre-profesional en la Ciudad de México, la Casa de Artes y Circo Contemporáneo nos ha ayudado a producir el 3er Festival Internacional de Circo Universitario en la Ciudad de México, ofreciendo una serie de talleres en el Desarrollo del Personaje y Clowning. Esta escuela cuenta con una trayectoria de lanzamiento de artistas jóvenes a un nivel superior; Casa es el Circus Smirkus de la Ciudad de México.

A pre-professional circus in Mexico City, Casa de Artes y Circo Contemporaneo has helped me produce the 3rd International College Circus Festival in Mexico City by offering a series of workshops in performance and in Clowning/Character Development. This school has a track record of launching young artists to the next level; Casa is the Circus Smirkus of Mexico City.

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Visiting with artists at Casa de Artes y Circo Contemporaneo

 

7. Palestine Circus School, Palestine 

In 2006 Khalid Mohammed was gunned down in Chicago. He was my student at CircEsteem and to honor him we sent circus equipment to New Orleans (the circus lost equipment due to Katrina earlier that year) Awassa and to honor my Muslim student we sent equipment to Palestine Circus School.   The work building skills in the face of adversity is amazing.   I have signed the petition to free #FREEABUSAKHA  Mohammad Faisal Abu Sak PalestinianCircusPropsHonoringKhalid

 

8. Cirkus Magenta, Finland 

Cirkus Magenta helps youth in refugees in Jordan funded by FinnChurchAid (a Finnish NGO that works to provide humanitarian aid around the world), this circus teaches circus skills to refugees in Jordan. Connecting with these kids allows them to focus their pent-up energy and unleash positive development.  I had the great honor of leading a discussion and workshop at a U.S. Embassy about the use of circus as an antithesis of war. My friends from Finland have a long history of using circus as a tool for peace, and it was a privilege to work together to educate my government about this unconventional method for peacemaking.

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An image from the Cirkus Magenta website

 

9.- 12. Internationale Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste , Germany via  Pimparello /  Bikonelli  / Variatastic / Maroni  

Six years ago Ludlow Kentucky was considered a food-desert; we had no restaurants or grocery stores.  We hosted our first volunteer from Germany IJGD (essentially the German Peace Corp) at this time.  Over the past five years the youth circus system in Germany has helped us develop the economy and circus as an industry in the USA.

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IJGD’s website

 

13. Circus at the POINT, Bronx-USA

Funded by Cirque du Monde, Circus at the Point allows for young people from all over NYC to attend circus classes.  Circus artists from all over town would offer input and skills development for this dynamic program helping plant the seeds of circus in the next generation of courageous circus performers.

14. Circusplaneet, Belgium

My friend Sven invited me to the Network of International Circus Educators (NICE) conference in Berlin in 2010.  There I met Matthias Vermael of Circusplaneet.  Matthias brews a beer called BIRCUS to fund his circus.  He doesn’t accept government funding and instead uses the purchasing power of beer as his concession to fuel his circus.   I have licensed the BIRCUS concept and will be brewing beer in 2016 to further our social circus initiatives.

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BIRCUS Brewing and its inspiration

15. Cirkusfabrikken, Denmark

I met Einar Trie in Berlin at the NICE Conference in 2010.  He brought 19 youth to train and perform in Chicago and Kentucky.  He also hosted three artists from Circus Mojo from Antigua, Mexico and Germany in 2014.  We hope to host many more youth circus groups in Kentucky to help develop circus in the United States.  The economic impact in Ludlow can not be ignored by local state and federal government officials.

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Left and Right: Danish artists come perform in Ludlow

 

16. Gamma Phi Circus ,  Illinois-USA

I wanted to create a college Circus Festival to connect students with circus opportunities.  I reached out to The Gamma Phi Circus the oldest college circus in the USA and they joined in. Lucky for me Cornell Freeney was one of my students at CircEsteem and his senior year and future America’s Got Talent Superstar Christian Stoinev joined us in creating the International College Circus Festival.


Gamma Phi has been giving the young people of Illinois State University a chance to finish college while running away with the circus.  I hope that the young people who work with me now can follow in Cornell’s Footsteps.

 

17. Mobile Mini Circus for Children, Afghanistan  

I met the legendary David Mason at the Effective Circus Conference at the University of Tampere in 2013.  David has done amazing work in war torn Afghanistan  giving joy to countless children.  I have been fortunate to get the support of many in the USA  former soldiers who now work in government development.  When I am working to explain the power of circus I simply show a video of MMCC and then follow-up with the concept that the US Government via USAID has funded work in Awassa, and the Hidung Merah Circus in Indonesia.  These officials minds are opened when I show them the work of MMCC.

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Performance at Mobile Mini Circus for Children

 

18. & 19. Circus Zambia, Zambia / Van Lodostov Family Circus, Vermont-USA

Ted Lawrence was a clown with Ringling Bros in 1986 who has been planting circuses all over the world.  I was a Clown with Ringling in 1996-97 and he’s 10 years my elder and continues to inspire and “Change the World” with circus.

zambia auditorium

Circus Zambia performing and building future circus audience

 

20. Circus Minimus, Manhattan-USA 

This project is the brainchild of Kevin O’Keefe… the guy who had an idea and implemented it to create the American Youth Circus Organization.  I had the opportunity to work for Kevin and Circus Minimus at the Dwight School and Riverdale Country Day, in New York City.  A limo would come an pick me up with my rolling globe at 108th and Columbus to teach circus to kids at private schools that cost $25,000+/year.  In a way, these kids need social circus more than anyone.  They live in a world without consequences and many times get frustrated and give up on things if they are not perfect.  But the circus can offer guidance as well as consequences (there is only one way to juggle)   I am grateful to Kevin both for hiring and training me, but also for mentoring me when I founded CircEsteem (number 3 on the original Buzzfeed Article!) in 2001. We at Circus Mojo continue to offer circus program for kids at expensive private schools and I believe this is some of the most difficult “social circus,” demonstrating both to parents and administrators that the circus can be a tool of development and a worthy program.CircusMinimus

 

21. Comunidades Educativas Por La Paz A.C ,  Teotihuacan Mexico                                              When we (El Salvadoran/Canadian, a few Germans and Americans) wanted to bring  some circus to the community in Mexico Gus and Miriam welcomed us.


We hope to  host graduates of Comunidades Educativas Por La Paz at the Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center one day and to send our students to train with them. 

 

22. Cirque du KKalamazoo-USA  I have been fortunate to have worked with a half dozen intelligent young people who discovered the circus in college and have used their new found passion in circus to move forward social circus / circus in community / circus for development in Ludlow / Cincinnati.

Cirque du K student artists/Alum have joined u for all 3 of our International College Circus Festivals . It takes young people to help build these systems and deploy their ideas and energy to help develop circus as a partner within education and healthcare systems.

 

Respect from Afar….

23. Belfast Community Circus, Ireland

I have never been to this circus but it’s the one that hold the deepest respect. 3/4 of my family hails from the emerald isle.  The legend I have heard is that the one rule is kids can’t wear their football jerseys as this is the one way to tell who is Protestant and who is Catholic.  I once took on an intern simply because the referral came from Salida Circus‘ Jennifer Dempsey, who spent some time at the Belfast Community Circus.  I hope to make it there one day, but regardless, they have inspired me to do my best and to build bridges with simple rules via circus.

24. Circus Stars, Australia 

Circus Stars “is the only circus school solely dedicated to children on the Autism Spectrum. Founded by well respected Youth Circus trainer Kristy Seymour, who developed the school after completing her Masters thesis.” How Circus training can enhance the well being of children with autism and their families”. The founder Kristy Seymour is bringing science to make the case for circus as a tool of intervention and connection. Circus Stars is changing the world for all of us. 

 

I am grateful to the above circuses for inspiring our work.  Our non-profit Social Circus Foundation supports this work, the Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center will build upon these concepts; Circus Mojo hopes to be in a position to leverage ideas and partnerships to continue to develop circus as a tool of individual and community development. I encourage you to list a circus in the comments below that has shaped or influenced you and please share this far an wide so we can share in changing the world together.

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