Wunderbar Together Zirkus Mojo Kick-off Honoring IJGD

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2.18.19 KICKoff Poster PRINT

Ludlow, Kentucky- Monday, February 18, 2019 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, Circus Mojo is hosting the kickoff celebration for “Wunderbar Together”, a year-long celebration in collaboration with German Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Goethe Institute, the group that granted Circus Mojo a 31,205 Euro grant to bring circus shows all around the Midwest.

The Wunderbar Together initiative is working together with over 200 partners to hold events in all 50 states painting a picture of everything German-American relations stand for, including science, the arts, culture, language, business, and sports.

The Wunderbar Together kickoff aims to raise funds to match the grant. The event will be a fun-filled evening featuring food, craft brews and a circus show featuring circus students from area schools and a finale by the Circus Mojo Troupe.

For eight years Circus Mojo has partnered with the IJGD, a voluntary youth service program in Germany that has been sending talented young adults to Ludlow to aid in community development via circus. Kerstin Thürnau, a member of the IJGD management team will be speaking prior to the circus show.

The Social Circus Foundation and Circus Mojo have hosted circus artists and coaches from 31 nations; from Antigua to Australia, Costa Rica to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana to Germany, Israel to Indonesia, Mexico to Malaysia, and Sudan to Suriname. This dedication to the global community does not go unnoticed.

The Kentucky Peace Corps Association has already donated toward matching funds. Naashom Marx, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, enthused, “I am honored that the Kentucky RPCV community recognizes the amazing work you are doing at Circus Mojo and The Social Circus Foundation which fits perfectly into our third goal as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV). Over the years I have seen you welcome people from all nations with an open heart. I’ve seen Circus Mojo actively and passively promote understanding and acceptance amongst so many with different backgrounds and from different nations. Circus Mojo and The Social Circus Foundation truly is a gem we need to tell the world more about. As a Kentucky native – thank you for making our lives and community more interesting.”

Each ticket for the event will include food by Mick Noll’s Catering and 2 drink tickets for craft brews from Bircus Brewing Co.

About The Social Circus Foundation: A nonprofit 501c3, raising funds to support programs using circus as tools for social change and in medical settings. Many of the people we serve have limited resources. The fund serves as a clearinghouse for scholarships and to educate and study the application of circus in non-traditional settings

About Circus Mojo: Founded in 2009 by former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown Paul Miller, Circus Mojo engages people of all ages to focus on abilities in hospitals, boardrooms, events, workshops, and other venues. With three focus areas – entertainment, education and community development – its programs and performances are designed to unlock personal talent, confidence, drive and spirit. Artists and Coaches from 36 nations have helped us develop Ludlow Kentucky via the circus:

#Antigua
#Argentina
#Austria
#Australia
#Belgium
#Brazil
#Canada
#Costa Rica
#Cuba
#Croatia
#Czech Republic
#Denmark
#El Salvador
#Ethiopia
#Finland
#France
#Germany
#Ghana
#India
#Indonesia
#Israel
#Japan
#Kenya
#KiowaNation
#Malaysia
#Mexico
#Netherlands
#Norway
#OglalaLakotaNation
#Poland
#Spain
#Sudan
#Suriname
#Switzerland
#Togo
#Venezuela

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Chanda, All the way from Costa Rica

My name is Alexandra Gonzalez, everyone knows me as Chanda or the circus girl … I started with circus life when I was 6 years old when my mom moved to the United States in order to provide a better life for me and my brothers . Being with the circus since then has been an adventure that has led me to live incredible experiences, know places around the world and most important, meet people who have marked my life and have supported me to enter into this circus world.

 

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My circus family is the Circo Fantazztico with which I have learned to be the artist that I am today. The Fantazztico is a small social project that started with the intention of separating children and young people from the bad influence of the street life, teaching that there is a world full of colors and joy and incredible experience … thanks to the commitment of each person of the Fantazztico that project has been growing and growing, special people around the world who believe in the power of art and in changing the world into a better place has supported the project …

 

fb_img_1547938725479I had the opportunity to share 8 tours around Europe (Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Scotland, England, Slovakia, among others) , multiple occasions in Nicaragua, Mexico, United States.

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How did I get to the United States? Well, circus is the best way to connect with people around the world. I’ve had the pleasure of being a circus girl and being involved in this world for a long time in. 2017 Ella, a german volunteer from Circus Mojo, visited Costa Rica to see her circus friend Franca, a girl who was also volunteering. Ella mentioned the possibility of making an exchange to Circus Mojo.

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I immediately agreed on it because I saw the opportunity to grow and continue opening paths into the circus world. I did not waste time and together with the director of the Fantazztico, we started to exchange emails with Paul to make my visit to Circus Mojo possible, until finally we succeeded, things worked well with the visa and my trip to the United States flowed without any problem …

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Today my time with Circus Mojo ends for now, sharing many experiences with people and artists who I will never forget, I carry them in my heart. Sharing the stage with friends and artists like Tate, Nathalie, E, Hope, Lucas and Paul was an adventure, sharing joyfull moments, being part of the Dream big tour and making lots of children happy with circus and giving them inspiration and hope for following their dreams …

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knowing and grow the professional me, learning during these three months is juicy, I take a thousand lived adventures and experiences to share like be part of the big opening for BIRCUS Brewing Co. and share with incredible artists like Duo Rose. See things growing step by step was a fascinated and excited. I am sure of to returning to Circus Mojo again. It is definitely an experience that I would be very happy to repeat.

Great projects and strong bonds were created, and with this much fruit.

Mi nombre es Alexandra González todos me conocen como Chanda o la chica del circo… inicié con la vida de circo a mis 6 años de edad cuando mi mamá se mudó a los Estados Unidos en busca de una mejor vida para mi y mis hermanos. Estar con el circo desde entonces ha sido todo una aventura que me ha llevado a vivir experiencias increibles, conocer lugares alrededor del mundo y más importante, conocer personas que me han marcado mi vida y me han apoyado a caminar en este mundo de circo. 

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Mi familia circense es el Circo Fantazztico con los cuales he aprendido a ser la artista que soy hoy día, el Fantazztico es un pequeño proyecto social que inició con la intención de apartar a niños y jóvenes de las malas enseñanzas de la calle, enseñando que hay un mundo lleno de colores y alegría e increíbles experiencia… gracias al empeño de cada persona del Fantazztico ese proyecto ha ido creciendo y creciendo, personas especiales al rededor del mundo que creen en el poder del arte y en todo lo que este causa han dado soporte al proyecto… He tenido la oportunidad de compartir 8 giras al rededor de Europa (Alemania, Austria, Italia, Francia, España, Finlandia, Bélgica, Holanda, República Checa, Suiza, Escocia, Inglaterra, Eslovaquia, entre otros), múltiples ocasiones en por Nicaragua, México, Estados Unidos.

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¿Cómo llegué a Estados Unidos? Bueno, el circo es la mejor conectarse con personas al rededor del mundo, tuve la dicha de ser un chica de circo y estar involucrada en este mundo, en el 2017 Ella una chica del Circus Mojo fue a visitar Costa Rica para ver a Franca una chica que estaba haciendo un voluntario, Ella mencionó la posibilidad de hacer un intercambio a Circus Mojo, yo salté y vi la oportunidad de crecer y seguir con abriendo caminos en el mundo de circo, no perdí tiempo y junto con la directora del Fantazztico, empezamos a intercambiar correos con Paul para hacer posible mi visita a Circus Mojo, hasta que finalmente lo logramos, las cosas funcionaron bien con la visa y mi viaje a los Estados Unidos fluyo sin problema alguno… 

Hoy mi experiencia con Circus Mojo termina por ahora, compartir con personas y artistas fue una experiencia que nunca voy a olvidar, me los llevo en el corazón. Compartir escenario con Tate, Nathalie, E, Hope, Lucas y Paul fue una aventura, compartir alegrías, ser parte del Dream big tour y hacer muchísimos niños felices con circo y darle la esperanza de segur sus sueños con el ejemplo… conocer y crecer profecionalme, el aprendizaje durante estos tres meses es jugoso, me llevo mil aventuras vividas y experiencias por compartir. Estoy segura de regresar nuevamente, es definitivamente un experiencia que me haría muy felíz repetir.

Grandes proyecto y fuertes lazos se crean, y con esto mucho fruto.

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Run Away and Join the Circus (at least for one year) ~ 2017/18 Ella

burstOn September 10th my Journey started. In twenty hours I flew from Düsseldorf (Germany) to Cincinnati (USA) to become a volunteer at Circus Mojo.

About me:

My name is Ella. I just turned nineteen years old and I love doing circus (especially to ride the unicycle). I started doing it at the youth circus Configurani in 5th Grade. There I learned how to juggle, spin poi, play the diabolo, ride the unicycle, to do partner acrobatics and teach all of it to younger children. When I finished school 2017, I wanted to do a one year break from the studying before I go to the university and fill it with a volunteering service. Through Internationale Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste IJGD I found the social circus project Circus Mojo.

My year at Circus Mojo was an adventure. I had my ups and my downs, but all in all I am very happy that I got this opportunity.

My work here was diversified.

The Hospital:

One of our main tasks was the work in the hospital. We dressed up colorful and brought the circus into the waiting room of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Usually we did a little show for the kids and taught them later how to spin a plate and balance feathers. It was need work, not just the kids liked to get a little distracted from the hospital atmosphere, their parents and the staff enjoyed us too.

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Circus Wellness Specialists Nellie and I

One day at the hospital was special. I probably won’t ever forget it. The day started normal. Paul and I were doing a little show at the Orthopedics waiting room. Then a family with two girls came in. One of the girls, I think she was around eight years old, was sitting in a wheel chair. She had no hands and just parts of the upper arms, with which she controlled her automatic wheelchair.

I went to the girls and asked them if they could help me with my juggling and pick the color of the ball I should my tricks with. Both of them helped me great.

Usually our next step would be teaching feather balancing to the kids, but you usually need your hands to balance a feather so I thought it would be unappropriated to offer this to a child with no hands.

But one girl saw the peacock feathers on our circus cart and asked us what they are for, so we showed them how to balance them on hands and fingers and gave one to each girl one.

The girl in the wheelchair picked the feather with her toes and balanced it the other foot through steering the wheelchair in the right direction. I was so impressed by her and it was awesome how much fun she had balancing the feather. She was really talented, her foot balancing was so much better than mine. I have to admit that I underestimated her and I am so glad that she proved me wrong through circus. This showed me one more time the power of circus, which connects people and empowers them.

Classes:

Another important part of my work at Circus Mojo was teaching circus.

We had a lot of different kind of classes (at schools, events, the children´s home, for the kids from Ludlow and at the Circus Mojo summer camp). Screenshot_20171013-182322Learning circus skills gives children a lot. I teaches them to don’t give up. Especially when you learn to juggle, you HAVE to drop the balls a lot of times before you succeed, but at the end your hard work will pay off. And you can show your new skills and earn the applause for it.

They learn that it makes so much more sense to juggle than to goof around, when they are bored.

Shows:

Last, but not least we have shows. If you are a performer at Circus Mojo, you have to learn to improvise, be spontaneous and flexible. I needed a little bit time, but by now I got used to the “Circus Mojo style“.

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The last year I performed in over 150 shows. I performed at birthday parts, art events (Blink), sport events (Red´s Baseball, Bengals Football), schools, colleges, restaurants, bars, parades, in churches, concerts, on TV and an amusement park.

Some shows were good organized and for some we had to improvise a lot, but at the end we made the audience always happy and that´s what counts.

When I first came to America, my English wasn’t good at all. But by now it is normal for me to lead as a ringmaster through circus shows. The shows built my self confidence.

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Tate and I in the 4th of July Parade

I learned a lot during my year here. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed, but we worked on it and I grew into my tasks. I am really happy that I didn’t give up. That is what you learn at the circus, to keep on going even, if you drop. And I dropped a couple of times.

One time I tried for example to free mount giraffe unicycle and broke my foot. It really annoyed me at first. I had problems with the American Health Care System, I couldn’t walk and even worse I couldn’t unicycle for weeks. So I focused on my juggling and managing the backstage during shows and it wasn´t too bad anymore.

My host family:

Another reason why I am so happy that I did this is year is that I got a second family. Through circumstances I moved into the house from Penny, who worked at BIRCUS and her family became my host family. I am so glad that I got to meet them and I will miss them so much.

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Penny, her husband Frank and their whole family are just great people and they helped me a lot.

Traveling:

Another Highlight of my year is the traveling I did. I got to see so many different parts of the USA.

Penny and Frank showed me Canada, Buffalo, Michigan and California.

When my family came to visit me during Christmas we went up to New York and Washington DC.

Then I visited my uncle and aunt in Florida and a friend of mine in another circus project in Costa Rica. So many adventures I can’t decide, which one the best one was. They were all special on their own way

I could write so much more about my time in the USA, but that would probably make this article a little long.

But I actually did write more about my time here. This is the link to my blogs, which I made during my time here, if your are interested in more.

https://ella-freiwilligendienst-circus.jimdo.com/

https://ella-freiwilligendienst2.jimdo.com/

All in all I can say that the last year was totally different from what I expected, but I am very happy how it turned out. I learned a lot of things the last month and got to meet awesome people.

It will be very hard for me to leave this all behind me, when I get on the airplane tomorrow.

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Welcome to the Circus Mojo Community Foundation Blog!

The Circus Mojo Community Foundation  (Formerly 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
Louis (“Tres”) Kutcher PhD
Chair, Biology Department at University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College

Secretary
Cherie Haas
Online Editor
ArtistNetwork.com

Treasurer
Jason Deller
Guardian Savings Bank
Mortgage Loan Advisor

Sara Warner
Recreation Therapist
St. Elizabeth Hospital

 

Past Board Members

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

Dave Schroeder
Executive Director, Kenton County Public Library

Jene Galvin

Community Organizer

 

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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Wunderbar Nathalie

Right before I started my journey to the USA I was told about the wunderbar together tour. I was interested in this project from there on even though I didn’t know a lot about it. After our Wunderbar Together parade in Indianapolis and our own event in the Ludlow theatre, we started our preparations for Chicago.
Chicago. I had never been in such a big american city before, which made it even more exciting especially after I’ve heard a lot of positive things about it. After a couple weeks of training we drove to Chicago pretty spontaneously on thursday april 25th.
On our first day Hope, german Paul and I explored Downtown Chicago. The Millenium Park was a good opportunity to practice our juggling, even though it was quite difficult because of the windy weather. In the opening event of Wunderbar together we showed some unicycling, juggling, gym wheel and the big red rolling globe. In the evening we all, including Donald a former student of Paul and his family went to Sam’s Restaurant, also a former student, with ethiopian food, which was really good.
The next day Paul and Hope had to leave but Ella, the former german Circus Mojo volunteer, joined us. It was nice to share some experiences from the time in the US with her. Unfortunately it rained and snowed the whole Saturday which is why we couldn’t do circus on Daley Plaza. Instead Niels, also a german volunteer but in da different project came to visit Chicago and we decided to go to the Art museum. I was very impressed with the artworks of painters like Van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso.
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On Sunday the weather was pretty good and so we did circus half of the day, entertaining and teaching the people around us. Ella and I played a few games like Jenga not like usual but on the unicycle, which was fun.

 

After that we all hung out by the lake and the Navy Pier. On Monday we were moved to the Goethe Institute because of rain.
We held a circus workshop for a school class there. I taught them how to spin a plate in german and a lot of them actually succeeded. Theresa, a teacher from the Goethe Institut invited us to a juggling practice that evening. Next to the juggling there is also Flying Trapeze. Paul gave me the opportunity to try it, it was so much fun and made a dream come true.
On may first we had our first real show on Daley Plaza and fortunately it didn’t rain, so I could perform Trapeze with all the skyscrapers around me. One thing I also thought was cool was that a clown, Santos, who we met at the juggling practice joined our show. The following day we went to a elementary school showing two classes some tricks and teaching the some feather balancing, Diabolo and spinning plates, which they really enjoyed.
May third was the last day in Chicago for me. We went and performed in the Church Street Brewing Company which belongs to the parents of our brew master Sean. It was a fun time and a great finale for Chicago, especially because it was quite different from our Brewery.
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I’ve had so many highlights in Chicago and learned a lot in such a short time. But most importantly I realized again how great and special the friendship between the US and Germany is. The last eight months I’ve been here have shown me the differences but a lot of similarities of these two nations. And through this partnership we can share our cultures and see what the countries are really like behind all these prejudices.
Let’s be wonderful together,
Wunderbar Together!

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August 24, 2019 · 9:54 am

A Month with the Circus

My name is Katie Anne Headley, and I spent a good part of the month of May with Circus Mojo as an intern on my Senior Search project.  I have recently graduated from The Summit Country Day School, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Every Summit senior class, for years, has had the opportunity to leave the classroom and explore an interest outside of the classroom for the last month of their senior year.  I wanted to do something unexpected, unique, and fun with my time…  

 The first encounter I had with Circus Mojo was in 2010 at an event called CirqueDevou.  I am a violinist of 13 years, and was at Devou Park to see an orchestra concert, but was captivated by the circus performances that were going on in front of the orchestra players.  My family and I began to follow Circus Mojo – I learned how to spin a plate at a Florence Freedom game about a year later.  The fun experiences I had observing the circus are what led me to choose Circus Mojo and Paul Miller as the focus for my Senior Search.

I met with Paul and I told him that I knew nothing and that I was open to anything.  I simply wanted to learn new things, see the “behind-the-scenes circus,” and test myself.  My expectations were exceeded in every aspect.  The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” definitely applies to my time with Circus Mojo.

I never knew what was in store for me each day I arrived in Ludlow.  This was an adjustment for me.  I am a planner.  Working with Paul was not what I was used to, but I think it was very good for me.  I learned that with a small business and a mission such as Circus Mojo’s, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  And, I loved the adventure that was a part of circus.  My month was an adventure that took place all over Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.

The people I met while working at Circus Mojo were my favorite part of my experience.  I met people from Ludlow, but also from around the world.  I met Renee Harris, who told me about the history of Circus Mojo and about the character of its founder, Paul Miller.  I met Penny Flaven who showed me how hard work and dedication get the job done.   I met Ginny Gibben, who taught me about all of the applications circus could have.  I met Amber, Bradley, and Bear – 3 fellow high schoolers from Ludlow – who showed me how circus can bring people together and offer up experiences of a lifetime.

I met Evelyn and Damian who were two examples of positivity and humility as well as two friendly and loving people.  I met Renee, Hope, and Lucas Miller who showed me how to live a fun, but purposeful life.  I met Donald Keme, from the country of Togo, who showed me how to stay focused and follow your dreams.  I met so many more people that taught me much more.  I am very grateful for everyone I was exposed to – they were an inspiration.  Whenever I met someone at Circus Mojo, I felt as if I was already friends with them.

I learned skills at Circus Mojo beyond how to juggle and spin a plate.  I was a part of many projects – some administrative, somecreative, and some simply out of necessity (such as learning how to jump a car).  One of my favorite projects made me feel like I was a part of history.  Towards the beginning of my time with Circus Mojo, Paul and I pulled several cardboard boxes from a closet, each filled with hundreds of White Tops circus magazines.  My task was to use a large flatbed scanner to scan the magazines so that they could be digitized (published online).  This was, at first, a daunting task; I was on my own and I had never used a scanner before.  However, I sat down at a desk, and I problem-solved.  I organized the magazines and learned how to scan them all on my own.  I felt a great sense of satisfaction when Paul posted the first magazine (originally published in 1934) to Facebook.

I took note every day of the skills Circus taught me that I could take with me beyond Ludlow.  I learned that in the circus, you must work as a team.  Paul told me as I worked with his son Lucas that there was an element of “forced cooperation” when you’re being taught circus skills by someone who is half your age.  However, I loved the small interactions I had with both of his extremely talented, bright, and energetic children.

Everything – especially juggling – takes practice.  You must work hard for what you want.  I learned to deal with frustration and use this frustration to instead further motivate myself.  I learned to perform.  “Don’t bite your lips, Smile,” Paul would say to me while I practiced my juggling.  It’s important as a circus performer to perform to the audience and make what you are doing seem effortless.  I learned to step out of my comfort zone.  While doing school gigs or company workshops, I had to find the self-confidence to not only perform to people, but also teach them.  I learned from watching the excellent and very confident performers I was around each day.  I was taught to be fearless, and to just put myself out there.

Some fearless performers I spent some time shadowing were Paul, and his friend Diane who both work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, as a part of a wellness program.  I was so intrigued by all of the good that circus can bring to the Hospital.  I saw, first hand, how the simple act of balancing a peacock feather on your hand brings so much joy to an ill or injured child.  

I read part of a book that I found in the office titled Behavioral Health Protocols and Treatment Plans for Recreational Therapy.  Circus was considered a type of medicine; a type of therapy.KA 16

I also learned the significance of teaching others while I was at Circus Mojo.  Amber, Bear, & Bradley – three circus performers who are more skilled than me and younger than me as well – were my teachers most days.  It was eye-opening to me to have my own peers teaching me skills.  I was amazed at their talent, humbled by how willing they were to teach, and blown away at how effective their teaching was.  We had a lot of fun and even managed to make me into a beginning juggler.  I hope that all of my teachers and mentors know that while they are working to teach others circus skills, they are also empowering their students, like me.

It was exciting to see progress at the Circus.  I surprised myself by learning how to juggle, walk on stilts, and spin the diablo in under a month.  I also saw the progress made in different projects I worked on around the office and the progress of others!  It was very encouraging.  I realized that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it.  I loved seeing how mostly everything eventually ended up okay in the end.

Renee Harris joked with me at the beginning of my internship that Paul knew everyone in any circus ever.  But as a started to get to know him, I found that this statement was pretty accurate.  As I watched from the large office windows, I could see the people of Ludlow walking by.  Almost every single one of them knew Paul, or knew about the work Circus Mojo was doing.  The same could be said of when we walked the halls of Children’s hospital, or visited a local school.  I could see the impact that circus had on the community.  Paul was also the one who introduced me to people from around the world.  Paul always looked for reasons to defend his work and prove to the world that circus is much more than what it is sometimes stereotyped to be.  He helped me set up a LinkedIn profile to further the connections I made during my time with the circus.  Before I left, Paul told me that I was family.  I am so grateful to now be a part of the circus community/family.  Thank you, Circus Mojo!

 

THANK YOU KATIE ANNE and to your parents and school for helping us expand our reach and mission!

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Becoming a Performer: Manuel Garcia

The last blog post I wrote for Circus Mojo was my beginnings with the company and my start of trying to bring joy through Circus. In that first year, my technical skills expanded rapidly, as I learned the various circus disciplines, such as balancing and object manipulation, in concert with the “Mojo philosophy.”

Since then, I would say that I have moved beyond rote abilities like juggling and reciting clowning bits to becoming a performer and an artist. My skills have improved, it’s true- I can juggle two diabolos, run a five ball juggling pattern, and complete sixty casino shows in a month. But the way that I grew the most was in learning to deal with the situations that can’t be anticipated.

I became very comfortable in taking on leadership responsibilities. So often, decisions had to be made to ensure Circus Mojo’s everyday activities went smoothly and because that organization uses an apprenticeship model and I learned to step up and not expect decisions to be made for me. If responsibilities were forgotten (dropping the ball, as it were), I didn’t need anyone to ask me to pick up the slack, it just became second nature.

The group who lived at Mojo got into the habit of planning for a day the night before. This involved assigning gigs and tasks, loading the van with everything we needed, and writing a list of any last-minute things we might need to grab in the morning. We customized our show, adjusting the acts and interactions to fit the age, size, and demographics of the different audiences we encountered. As a group, we became experts at performing in the show while simultaneously running our own music and taking photos. In particular, Rachel, Kira, Rosa, and I became so comfortable in working together that we were able to form an hour (or more) show at a moment’s notice. We were also able to adapt that show to include various performers, including others from the troupe or guests from out of town.

One of my favorite groups to work with was the boys from the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK).  They were always eager to learn and excited to try new things. In particular, the diabolo was very popular among them. Whenever one of them would get a trick for the first time, they’d call me over to watch, and it struck me that my approval would be so meaningful to them. As soon as they had the trick down, they asked for more. What I also loved was realizing that I could capture the boys’ attention without raising my voice. They respected me because I listened to them, rather than making assumptions about them. At CHNK and in other classes, I learned my own style of handling situations.

This was vital for the two years I spent as Mojo’s summer camp director. I was the pe11824950_10153451811503758_971320043211185359_nrson who was planning each week’s day-to-day events, as well as the go-to whenever we needed to deviate from any plan. Before summer camp began, we had contingency plans for various situations: where kids could go if they needed a break, what to do if it was too hot to have groups outside, etc. But of course, not every [situation] can be planned for. When those unexpected wrenches were thrown into our plans the Mojo staff became able to deal with them flawlessly. The most difficult days to navigate were when we needed to split our team to cover summer camp, work at the hospital, and various gigs…Sometimes all at the same time!  During those hectic times we’d have to ask Ginny (our fearless manager and roustabout) or Joe (her cousin who’s worked with us in the past) to step in at summer camp to lend a helping hand.

When I came to Mojo, I already had many of the basic skills that I used in shows; I could already juggle, perform with fire, and other object manipulation. Although these skills certainly improved over the past two and a half years, what sticks with me is the idea that being a performer is about being able to deal with whatever is being thrown at me. It’s about all of the heavy lifting that goes into making a show. It’s about preparing an act and performing it in front of an audience…and then changing it on the spot if something isn’t working. It’s about meeting new people and meeting ever-changing expectations. And rolling with all of it (on a big red ball). And in doing this, I have brought some joy through circus.

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One Year, Two Months, and Eighteen Days; or, How I Learned to Juggle

I graduated from Kalamazoo College in June 2015. 11144449_10153398359308758_7566187496585851969_n.jpgMy plan was to hitch a ride with a friend to Ludlow, Kentucky two days later to begin my work with Circus Mojo. The night before we were scheduled to make the drive, though, my friend’s car broke down and wouldn’t be available for a day and a half. I was panicked. This was my first job out of college and I was going to be late. I sent an email to Paul Miller, a man whom I had never met, and had only spoken to over the phone once, and explained my situation. “How can we help?” was his simple reply. I was surprised by Paul’s nonchalant response, but as I began to work with Mojo, it became clear that the staff was trained to work with situations like these as a daily occurrence.12565425_10153813098513758_3588419603410571353_n.jpg
Change of plans at the last minute? No problem.
The client has a particular request? We’ll take care of it.
Teach a class in the day and perform five shows that night? Bring it on.
Job titles are tricky because nobody at Mojo performs just one role. For instance, I am a
counselor at summer camp, a “Circus Wellness Specialist” at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the girl holding the camera and making various promotional videos, and a playmate to the various kids who hang out in our parking lot.
Often all in one day.

“Everyone at Mojo has to juggle,” Paul had told me when I was first applying. At the time I took that to mean that I needed to master a three ball cascade- and that was true, it needed quite a bit of work. But that was only part of it.

I needed to juggle Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Keeping up with events, contacts, and pictures could have been a position all on its own.

I needed to juggle hospital shows, birthday party shows, and school shows. Each performance has its own feel, and knowing the stage and the audience was something that took time to grasp.
I needed to juggle shows, workshops, and strolling gigs. And within each gig was juggling the performance, music, and pictures.
As a staff, we got very good at juggling our responsibilities and working through unexpected challenges. At various events, the clients and other performers would acknowledge how willing we are to shift our own plans around to better suit their needs, from postponing our event half an hour to changing the entire format of our show at a moment’s notice, all without compromising the quality of the performance.
My time in Ludlow is coming to a close. I’m saying a lot of goodbyes, and leaving a lot of people behind. But I’m taking a lot with me as well. Now, in addition to being able to juggle three balls (sometimes four!), rings, and clubs, catch ten hula hoops around my waist, and keep any number of plates spinning, I have a sizable skillset of non-traditional circus abilities, as well.
My sister is coming to pick me up in a few days and we’ll be driving up to Minnesota together, where I’ll begin my next adventure. And while I certainly hope her car doesn’t break down during the trip, I know I’ll be able to handle it if it does.

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