Tag Archives: cincinnati

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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Filed under Backstage Stories, college, Mojo News, Our Common Humanity

Incredible work growing in Thailand!

Southeast Asian Social Circus Network

This October Makhampom will host the first ever Thai social circus festival! From the 11th – 14th South East Asian and International circus groups are invited to the Makhampom Living Theatre to take part in 3 days of skill-sharing workshops, social circus forums, evening performances, and a 1-day carnival.

The focus of the festival is to build the South East Asian Social Circus network and to enhance the circus & facilitation skills of the youth circus participants.

The festival will also be an opportunity for local youth circuses to showcase their skills and abilities through performance.

Makhampom would like to invite you and your group to attend the festival.
Makhampom is currently looking for support to help bring this festival to life. We are looking for sponsorship to fund the costs of flights for South East Asian circus groups to travel to the festival.

Participation costs:
International participants: $200 AUS/person…

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Ringling Brothers Circus in Cincinnati: A Week to Remember

We’ve known for months that the Ringling Brothers Circus was coming to Cincinnati this March. The week prior to the show’s opening, Pauly and Karen roamed the downtown streets sharing smiles and bringing a taste of what was to come:

On opening night, Ringling provided Circus Mojo with a generous number of tickets so that our crew could attend the show – and of course, it was the greatest on earth! The high-wire, the clowns, the wheel of death (!), tigers, elephants…thrilling, beautiful, and simply out of this world. What a surprise when, after the finale, the boss clown came out and took us on a backstage tour!

By the time the evening wound down and we had all returned home, I didn’t think the week could get any better. But it was only Thursday…as I drank my coffee the next morning and checked my email, I saw that Circus Mojo was going to perform on Friday night’s pre-show for the Ringling Brothers. Let me say it again because it feels so good: Circus Mojo was to perform for the pre-show for Ringling Brothers!

There are many stories to be told of that afternoon as several clowns joined Pauly and gang for a homemade lunch (thanks to Matt!), games, juggling and shared tricks. When I arrived at Mojo for our rehearsal, the room was full of rings flying through the air and there was an excitement that fit well with the show’s theme: “Fully Charged!”

Ringling Brothers circus clowns, Circus Mojo, juggling

Adam (left) juggles with a Ringling clown (right) as Pauly shows another performer how to walk on the giant red globe. Picture by Tres Kutcher.

The time went by in a blur as we prepared for our set, loaded two vehicles, flew across the bridge to Cincinnati, miraculously got past security and then before I knew it, we were backstage and set to go on in Ring Three. Two favorite things that I’d like to share about this: one, was seeing an elephant backstage with us. Living near one of the nation’s top-rated zoos, I see elephants fairly regularly, but this was surreal. The second great part was that the performers from Ringling were beautiful – not just physically. They welcomed our motley crew into their space with open arms and were incredibly supportive and friendly. I thank them for this.

Visit our facebook page to see more pictures from our Ringling Brothers experience, including our rehearsal and the pre-show in which our group performed juggling, hooping, poi and more.

Fully charged,
Cherie Dawn


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Circus Arts for Healing

As I write this, I’m still wearing my costume from tonight’s Circus Mojo performance at a grief support group session. Pink shirt, purple leggings, etc. The only change is that I’ve kicked off my boots and let my pigtails down. Until I go to sleep, I’m guessing that the evening will still feel very present.

Tonight, we – Pauly, Matt and I – brought circus as a healing art to this special group of people who’ve lost loved ones. When I heard about the opportunity, I jumped on it, as I’m always looking for ways to give back. And it was just what I expected. When we entered the room for the evening, Pauly immediately invoked smiles from the dozens of children who were sitting front-row on the floor, with dozens more parents and helpers seated behind them. If you haven’t seen his hat routine, then I encourage you to look for it – this simple hat becomes a character itself, bouncing from head to hand to shoulder, to audience and then back again. The kids loved it (I loved it, too!).

Next, I hopped up and performed with my glow poi; it went well.

Matt, who has an ability to be spontaneously funny, took the stage next with juggling and stilt walking. Shortly after that we welcomed our audience to join us in spinning plates, walking on stilts, and balancing on the rolling globe. At least for an hour or so, grief was not at the forefront. I think, we were able to offer more than simply tricks and entertainment, but also a reprieve.

I’m grateful to have shared this evening with this group of warm people who opened their minds to experiencing things that were possibly new, and definitely silly.

As I wind down for the evening, I realize that this is the stuff that really does make the world a better place. Keep reading below to hear Pauly’s perspective on this unique evening.

Cherie Dawn

“What, a circus at a grief event?!” Earlier that day Renee, Circus Mojo’s Operations Manager who holds the circus together, got a call at her home: “Will there be a clown in make-up?” a nervous caller asked.

The tension was thick as we entered the room…Half the room was red-eyed from crying in the past hour, a quarter didn’t want to be there (teens who were dragged out to deal with personal loss in a group setting), and the other quarter was children who needed a good laugh.

On our way in, I ran into the door and caused a scene. Slapstick is funny, and the kids laughed because they hurt and are delighted that someone else “hurts” too, although in a much different way.

After this, I entered slowly while playing a tune on the melodica. Then a few bits with the hat. First, I tossed it to a kid who doesn’t want to be there. One of my rules is to engage the tough ones.

I was thankful to the little giggler who was at the front of the group laughing – this gave others permission to others to enjoy something. Working in these unique environments is easy on some levels because we bring the unexpected. Adults laugh when they’re uncomfortable; kids laugh when they’re having fun…. Adults laugh when they see their kids having fun, which brings comfort.

Another thing I like to share with others, is this: when you’re frustrated, BREATHE. This evening we spun plates together; I encouraged everyone to not think about it too much as they became flustered while trying to spin the plates – but thinking won’t help you spin a plate.

By the end, all where smiling and had a achieved something special…even us, who get to bring JOY to those who need it.


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Blogger Steve Metz Visits Circus Mojo

Steve Metz, a Cincinnati-based writer and photographer, recently visited our Saturday morning Advanced Circus class for some photos and fun, and to write about it for his blog, Citizen Pork. What I love about his blog post is that he totally gets what Circus Mojo is about (he writes of the students: “The varied experiences and backgrounds of the kids were somehow washed away and instead, there was a commonality and a communion, to their effort, their learning, and the joy of discovery.”).

Read about his adventure in his blog, Citizen Pork, where you’ll find some fantastic images and a well-written, first-hand account of what it’s like to experience Circus Mojo.

Until next time,
Cherie Dawn

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Teen Circus Apprentice Performs at Local Talent Show

Keron Givens, who has been working for Circus Mojo as a paid apprentice performing and teaching in Greater Cincinnati, performed recently at the 2012 Talent Show at Woodward High School in Cincinnati. Enjoy this clip from the show, and stay tuned for more examples of Mojo making a difference.

To learn more about our apprentice programs and circus classes for all ages, visit www.circusmojo.com.

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Macy’s Arts Sampler 2012 | Sample the Circus for Free!

Join Circus Mojo Saturday, February 25 as we celebrate the arts during Macy’s Arts Sampler 2012 in Cincinnati. Watch a circus performance, then shake out your legs and take a workshop – all for free!

There’s no need to register, and all ages and abilities are welcome – don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the circus like you never have before. Experience the tight wire, stilts, spinning plates, trapeze and more!

circus arts in Cincinnati, youth circus, Macy's Arts Sampler, Artswave

Circus Mojo, 322 Elm Street, Ludlow, Kentucky
Show Times: 11:30 am and 1:00 pm

Macy’s Arts Sampler shines a spotlight on the arts in our community and is the kickoff for the annual ArtsWave Community Campaign, when people all across our region come together to support the creative things that make greater Cincinnati a great place to live.

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