Making Waves: Youth Circus Connects Kids to Each Other and the World
My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus is busy.
Depending on which day of the week it is, Director Steve Roenker is at one of six schools and recreation centers across the region – from Blue Ash to Covington – teaching kids to ride unicycles, juggle, walk on stilts, and roll around in a German wheel. On Saturday mornings, students from all of those schools who are working on advanced skills get together for four hours of intense practice. Serving more than 300 youth every year, My Nose Turns Red offers kids the chance to do something really different, while learning skills that they can use almost anywhere.
Summer circus programs are offered for children as young as four, and some kids perform with My Nose Turns Red for many years. As they gain confidence with the different circus skills, they can choose to become apprentice coaches and learn the skills to coach younger students and plan performance routines. Coaching gives the teens an opportunity to learn leadership skills, be a positive role model, and even earn a little money.
Anna Kaiser, age 17, and Jackson Savage, age 16, currently serve as Assistant Coaches. They both agree that it is tough work: “The most difficult thing about being a coach is managing a room full of kids who sometimes just want to play,” says Anna. She thinks that the leadership experience will eventually help her to lead co-workers. Jackson agrees, “Just knowing how to handle kids, not even in large groups, is an enormously useful skill in itself. And you never know, perhaps someday I really will have half my bicycle stolen (as so many people have joked) and I will not be left helpless, thanks to My Nose Turns Red teaching me how to ride a unicycle.”
Jackson’s mother, Mary Pat Buck, sees her son learning other valuable lessons, too. “ He’s learning the value of "try, try again". Learning is a process. The achievement of a goal, whether it is a new circus trick or something more academic, doesn't magically appear. It is earned.” Cate O’Hara, Anna’s mother, notes, “I originally signed my kids up for circus just because it is fun. However, along with the fun comes teamwork, leadership, balance (literal and figurative), strength, humor, creativity, and resiliency.”
Jean St. John, the company's Managing Director, notes that the younger kids are eager to follow in their footsteps. In a recent rehearsal when Steve asked who wanted to learn to be assistant coaches, kids piped up immediately with “I want to be Anna!” and “I want to be Jackson!”
Anna and Jackson have both enjoyed learning a new set of skills on the German wheel and the opportunity to learn from circus professionals from all over the world. Steve connected with a renowned German wheel teacher living in Chicago, Wolfgang Bientzle, and that relationship helped My Nose Turns Red bring instructors from Japan and Israel to Cincinnati to work with advanced students. Jackson says, “Meeting a performer, learning from them, and getting to know them is infinitely better than simply watching them do seemingly impossible tricks.”
Connecting young people to new friends from other schools and experts from around the world, My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus provides a unique service to the Cincinnati region. Catch their 2012 Youth Circus Extravaganza on April 28th and 29th at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater.