Welcome to the Social Circus Foundation Blog!

The Social Circus Foundation INC will raise funds to support programs using circus as tools for social change and in medical settings.  Many of the people served have limited resources clearinghouse for scholarships and to educate and study the application of circus to mental and physically disabled.

Board Members:

Board Chair
Dave Schroeder
Executive Director, Kenton County Public Library

Cherie Haas
Online Editor

Sara Warner
Recreation Therapist
St. Elizabeth Hospital

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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Shay’s and Liam’s Story: Germany 2016


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.



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.


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. 


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.


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

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.

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.”]

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.


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

Comp julia

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Circus Planeet.jpg

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.


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.


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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My time at Circus Mojo

IMG_6043My name is Kira Haid and I’m one of the two volunteers from Germany. Since I’m a child I love it to travel. So I decided very early that I want to do a year abroad after my High School. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the culture, the people, the land and at least the language. While my research for a volunteer year I found the Organization IJGD which offered a year abroad in a Circus in America. This project sounded perfect for me. Not only the fact that the USA was one of my favorite target. I also love to do circus and was in the German Circus Maronie for 5 years. After some paper work and a bunch of seminars I finally flew to the US. And now I’m here since more than 4 months.

Circus Mojo is different than my German Circus. For example at Circus Maronie we just have one big show once a year and a bunch of small shows in my area. I never did the entertainment for birthday parties or worked in schools. So at the beginning it was for me a lot of new things here.

Another big and for me new task at Circus Mojo is the work at the children hospital. Circus Mojo works at the hospital for almost 5 years. It’s an enrichment program that helps those who are sick become active participants in the circus arts.


The first times when I went to the hospital I just observed Manny and Sharon. After 2 months observing and a some medical tests I finally get my own badge. The work in the hospital is difficult. You have to pay attention about a lot of different things (clean everything after you use your stuff, don’t be in the way of the nurses/doctors, pay attention to the kids).

But I have to say that I really like this kind of work because beside all the sadness in this job there is a very nice side. I can’t describe this feeling if you get the kids and their family smiling and if you can give them some nice minutes where they can forget everything worst. We also give the kids some circus stuff like balancing feathers or ribbons what they can keep. And I saw seldom kids which are so thankful for such small things. Also their enthusiasm for the circus makes my day often better.

In our first 4 months we already had the possibility to travel. I already told you how much I love it to travel and so I was even more happy about that. Our first trip was to Chicago. It was just Rosa and me and we traveled to Chicago to visit a friend. We were never before in Chicago, but we felt in love with this city. IMG_0891After our 4 day trip we get picked up from the Circus Mojo team and drove to a big gig in Minnesota. The name of the gig was Cirque-du-Stress and it was in a college. It was one of my highlight since I’m here. It was a very big show with a lot of talented people from different countries. It was interesting to talk to them and to interchange the own circus experience.


Because of the fact that we really enjoyed the Show in Minnesota Rosa and I decided to make our own Circus Mojo Christmas Show. After the team agree to do the Show we started to prepare it. First we looked for some local sponsor and we get three donations from Wynners Cup Café, Second Sight Spirits and live Music from Folk School Coffe. After we found our sponsors we designed our poster and flyers and spread them out in our area. Than we looked for music and started to create our acts. At the same time we also started to clean the Auditorium and get the stage ready. One week before our show happened we had a rehearsal where we did our whole show. Sadly I sprained my foot during a dance in our juggling act. I was glad that I could do at least the juggling, acrobatic and poi act. But I wasn’t able to do my wire act. So I was very happy that Tate could perform on the wire instead of me. We created in the last minute a new wire Act. Tate is a very good wire walker from Ludlow and she will go this year for the second time to Germany to Circus Pimparello. But this time she will not only spend a few weeks their, she will spend a whole year in Germany which is pretty cool.

To sum it up I would say the Show was a success. The room was full of people and we get a good feedback. Even though we had a stressful time we had a lot of fun and I’m glad that we did it.

A note from Paul Miller: Tate and 12-15 other young people from Ludlow will be participating in Circus Mojo’s immersive culture and circus exchange program to Germany’s CircArtive Pimparello this summer!
This program takes circus beyond a performance- or amusement-based activity to become a vehicle for instilling in young people the cultural competency and awareness necessary to be accomplished global citizens, in much the same way that the Kentucky Department of Education is approaching students’ international literacy*.
Circus traditionally relies on the bizarre and exotic to attract audiences, and it is in that same spirit that Circus Mojo draws audiences and participants.  I am extremely grateful for the IJGD organization which has connected us with various valuable circus artists who bring to Ludlow not only their talents as performers, but also their foreign accents and unique perspectives- they bring the world to Ludlow.
If you are interested in this opportunity please email info@circusmojo.com for more information.
*To that end, Circus Mojo is beginning the inaugural term of the Institute for Social Circus Vocational Training Center, a program for adults to learn how to use circus arts to build relationships in various cultural and medical settings.

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All the way from Germany

Hey my name is Rosa, I am one of the new volunteers from Germany and I have been working at Circus Mojo now for almost 5 months. The reason why I decided to come as a volunteer to Circus Mojoprofil picture was because circus has been my passion since I was eleven. I got the opportunity doing Circus from my high school in Germany which offers a social circus program called Circus Calibastra for their students from the 6th grade to the 13th grade. During this years I got involved in the circus world a lot. Because I am in a Show Group now called Variatistic and loved it so much I decided to want to do a volunteer year abroad in a circus. Through IJGD, a company which offers volunteer programs, I found Circus Mojo and here I am.


Even though the work here can be very exhausting, I really enjoy it most of the time. Especially the work in the hospital and the teaching is what I love to do. My favorite thing is, when I can teach the skills which became my own. Trapeze, hand balancing and acrobatic are the skills I have been focusing on the last years the most. For me it is a pleasure to give my experience in this skills further to the Kids.


Enjoying Lake Michigan in Chicago


In Germany it is a very common thing to do a volunteer year abroad after finishing the high school. It is a great opportunity to see other cultures, countries, working places and people from all around the world. You learn how to deal with a lot of different challenges. For example living on your own, being without your family, how to deal with money and of cause also how to handle with all types of people and personalities. For me this volunteer year is a good possibility to get the ground skills you need to live your own life. What I am talking about is for example independence, creativity, flexibility and the willingness to compromise. I do not expect to become perfect in all this things, but it can be at least a goal to grow in all this things.


2015 Circus Mojo’s Christmas Show at Saints Boniface & James

“Physical education” is the name of the program of the Dohn Community High School where Circus Mojo has been part of since the end of September 2015. Every Monday and Wednesday morning a part of the Circus Mojo Team sets up to the Dohn School down in Cincinnati to teach for one hour a Circus Class. The kids are between 14 and 16 years old and have not done or seen any circus before. We teach them basic skills include juggling, acrobatics, plate spinning, globe walking, rhythm and tight wire, which helps them developing their coordination ability, their patience and their will to achieve success.

But in this class not only our students have to learn to be patient also we as the Circus Mojo stuff have to learn how to teach with patience. The class reason for this is that the kids are very chaotic and have not the best behavior. This difficulties are making it hard for us to get their attention and to have a focused class. Even though we still have our “bad days” with these kids we are getting them more and more involved in doing circus and their skills have improved the last months a lot.


My students at Dohn Community High School

A lot of times we meet people from Cincinnati and tell them we are from Germany the reaction is always friendly and surprisingly nice. The reason for this is not only because Germans are just nice peopleJ it is especially because Cincinnati is well known as the German American city. So a lot people start to talk with us about their German back round, how much they love Germany, our beer, our food and that their dream is to visit Germany sometime or again.


Christkindelmarkt in Cincinnati with fellow Volunteer Kira Haid

Because we feel so welcome here we thought we shouldn’t miss the “real” German Christkindlmarket and the Oktoberfest. So of cause we went to both of them and each of it was a funny experience and an interesting discovery what Americans think what is real German food or real traditional clothes. We tried for example the Bratwurst but I have to say unfortunately it was not the same like in Germany. There was also some stuff they sold which I have never seen before. But all in all we still liked it and it was fun to see and to watch what Americans think it is German culture.


Cirque De-Stress at University of Minnesota

I have been working here with a lot of kids, teching different things, but I hope in 2016 to get more kids I can teach trapeze and I look forward to training new skills.

A note from Paul Miller: Tate and 12-15 other young people from Ludlow will be participating in Circus Mojo’s immersive culture and circus exchange program to Germany’s CircArtive Pimparello this summer!
This program takes circus beyond a performance- or amusement-based activity to become a vehicle for instilling in young people the cultural competency and awareness necessary to be accomplished global citizens, in much the same way that the Kentucky Department of Education is approaching students’ international literacy*.
Circus traditionally relies on the bizarre and exotic to attract audiences, and it is in that same spirit that Circus Mojo draws audiences and participants.  I am extremely grateful for the IJGD organization which has connected us with various valuable circus artists who bring to Ludlow not only their talents as performers, but also their foreign accents and unique perspectives- they bring the world to Ludlow.
If you are interested in this opportunity please email info@circusmojo.com for more information.
*To that end, Circus Mojo is beginning the inaugural term of the Institute for Social Circus Vocational Training Center, a program for adults to learn how to use circus arts to build relationships in various cultural and medical settings.

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