Jesse Dascola on Germany: There and Back Again

Four years ago when I first laid eyes on the Circus Pimparello camp grounds, the site was breath taking.  This year I was nearly brought to tears when I saw the camp grounds again.  I never thought I would get to come back because I left the circus in September of 2009.  I always thought about coming back on my own when I was older because I had friends from the last trip who were still involved and the Pimparello camp is just so amazing. The owner, Sven, is always talking about how this place is a paradise.  I don’t think everyone agrees with that but I wholeheartedly do.  This place is a circus get away – there is not much else around but woods and animals.

I was scared to come back because things change, as do people, and I was scared the special place that I knew, the place tucked away deep in the woodlands of Germany, might not be the same anymore. I was afraid that place where I could take a break from training and sit and listen to the breeze as it sweeps across the trees with the distance noise of kids playing and learning circus would not be there anymore. I was scared I would come back and none of the people I met on my last trip would be here and that everything would be different because I was a different person.

I have grown up since the last time I was here. I was 15 the first time and was a camper.  This time I’m 19 and a teamer which means I teach and take care of the kids, but I still get to do some training.  I like being a teamer better.  I feel like I really get to know the campers, especially the ones I care for, and its easier to get closer with the older German teamers and my friends from last time.  Sure, the responsibility is greater but the reward is so much better.

This time I co-teach a clowning class, and it gives me so much joy to see the kids trying to become great clowns and really listening to the critiques we give them.  Its not easy being a clown but once you become a clown and once you’ve joined the circus you can never really leave it behind. I know this first hand because, as mentioned earlier, I left the circus about 3 years ago.

Things were different and I needed a change. I thought circus wasn’t it for me anymore and I decided to go to culinary school.  Now I take classes at the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago and, while I really enjoy doing that, I have constantly thought about going back to circus. During my time off from the circus, I would still juggle balls and round food to entertain people.  Of course I would always be funny, because I am a clown, but it was never enough for me and I always wanted more.

Then I got another chance.  In Dec. of 2011, I saw Paul doing one of his shows and he offered me the chance to go to Germany again.  When he asked me this I was so excited but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  I hadn’t done real circus in years and I needed to get back in to it. For four days before we left for Germany I was in Ludlow retraining at Circus Mojo. I worked hard because this meant a lot to me.  It meant I could do circus and still follow my passion for cooking.  All of this meant going back to Germany, something I had dreamed about since the day I left Germany four years ago. During those four days I acquired most of the skills I had before I left the circus.  Once in Germany, I was able to start learning new tricks.

Since being here I think I have had some of the best times yet in my life.  I got to reconnect with old friends and make new ones and I get to be part of a circus family.  I’ve thought about going back to the circus for about a year.  Now that I have finally come back to the circus, I know that my life will not be complete without some circus in it.  I know circus will always be a part of my life, and I can integrate culinary with that because circus people have to eat. I cannot thank Paul, Sven and everyone else who made this trip possible enough.  I think I have been happiest here – words cannot really describe how this place makes me feel.

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