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