Jesse Dascola shares her once-in-a-lifetime experience of traveling to Germany to study circus. Every other year, Circus Mojo students participate in this unique opportunity. To learn more and help more local youth tour to Germany, click here.
Six years ago I joined the circus when I was in 8th grade. At that point in life I was your typical kid who would get through school and then go home, play video games and watch TV. Little did I know that would change when I joined the circus. Looking back upon my time in the circus and the years I took off from it, I really see the changes and impact it had on me. When I was 14 I can’t think of anything special or really creative that I did before joining circus. Once I joined the circus I learned how to be creative and how to express myself in different ways and take a risk on creative assignments. The first photo seen was taken at my first circus show, I still remember it like it was yesterday. We had worked for weeks to put an act together with a group of about 7 of us. Then the day of the show only three of us showed up. We had to work together with the help of our trainer to create a new act with very little time. I thought I was nervous when I first showed, I was even worse once we changed the act. Our trainer Dan Tafelski saw how all of us were worried and he came to us and told us, “Don’t worry just go out there and have fun.” And that’s what I did.
During my second summer with the circus I got an awesome chance to go to Germany to have an exchange with another circus, CircArtive Pimparello. I remember getting out of the car and getting to the top of the hill and looking down at, what I’ve called, the circus valley. I literally stopped in my tracks, and just took it all in, I was amazed at the beauty of it and was thinking about how I would get to spend the next three weeks there. The second photo is the group of us from America who got to visit Germany, on our hike through the woods.
During the time there, the founder of CircArtive Pimparello, Sven talked about how he would love for an American to come stay there for a year. I really wanted to and thought I could the year after I graduated high school, but in that time I stopped doing circus and lost contact with a lot of those people.
When I was a junior in high school I decided that I was going to follow a career in culinary arts. It took a lot of confidence on my part to really go down that path but having my background in circus I knew I was going to be able to do it. I really started working on my cooking skills at home after that and started to get really creative with some of the decorations I put on cakes or how I would plate food. I feel
like I took creative chances that I wouldn’t have taken before because I learned that I could and that it’s OK for me to be creative through the skills I learned at circus. The third photo is a dragon I made out of food. It was a project I had in one of my classes, we had to make some type of picture out of food. Most people were making simple designs. I wanted to do something that would be impressive, so I chose a dragon, my teacher thought I was crazy for picking that and said it would be hard, but I had made up my mind. It took me the whole five hours of class to get it together, it was made mostly from cucumber and green cantaloupe. It didn’t turn out exactly how I envisioned but it turned out great and everyone was impressed.
The photo above is a dessert I make at the restaurant I work at currently. Now I have come back to my circus roots, I got in touch with Paul Miller of Circus Mojo and he took me back to Germany the summer of 2012. I was so excited to get to go back, and see all my friends from Germany and get back into doing circus. This trip in a much different role than the last time, this time I was an adult chaperone and a teacher. I had more responsibilities. I was so happy to be back and doing circus again. During that time Sven brought up having an American come and stay again and I thought I could actually do it.
When we got back to the US I always had Germany in the back of my mind but I wasn’t at a place where I could go to Germany, instead I was able to move down to Ludlow, KY and work with Circus Mojo.
The above photo was taken during my second trip to Germany, during a show we put on. After doing both circus and culinary work for some time, I found myself being able to create new acts along with creating menus. I was not only doing circus but teaching it to young kids. I have a lot of pride watching them try to create acts and learn the skills I learned. I find it very rewarding when a young student learns something and is filled with joy because I have been there and I know the feeling. After some time I decided to move back to Chicago, it’s fun knowing that I can have a career in both circus and culinary. There are some great opportunities within the circus world for me. I mean, clowns have to eat. This summer I’ll get to put both my talents to work again. I will be able to take Sven up on his offer of spending time in Germany and I will be spending 14 months there. I will get to do both cooking and circus while there. I know I would be in a very different place if I had never taken the chance to join the circus and acquire these skills that have lead me so far in life. I know they are only going to get me further. I’m only going to keep going from here and coming up with new creative ideas for both inside and outside the kitchen. ~Jesse Dascola