Performers & Innovators
Some children (and many children’s programs) just don’t fit into tidy categories. For example, what if your kid says, “I’m really into being a circus performer?” No problem. “If you’re looking for something different, Circus Juventas is going to fit the bill,” says founder and executive director Dan Butler.
At Circus Juventas in St. Paul, kids learn to walk a tightrope, swing on a trapeze, ride a unicycle, juggle, and other skills, taught by coaches from all over the world who have worked in real circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Cirque du Soleil. At the end of each session, whether a week-long summer camp or a weekly class during the school year, participants show off their new skills with a public performance.
To the uninitiated, circus skills may sound scary. But children of every ability level are capable of developing them in a safe environment, Butler says. Kids of all different sizes have important roles. Participants gradually acquire competence, not to mention some pretty impressive bragging rights. “We have kids come in who are clumsy and uncoordinated; there wasn’t anything else out there for them,” he says. “That’s our specialty. We take kids who aren’t gifted, and they become gifted.”
And, unlike many organized sports, boys and girls at Circus Juventas learn side by side. Together, they develop hand-eye coordination, teamwork, and self-confidence. “They learn that if they work hard on something, they can do it,” Butler says. And that’s a lesson kids can apply to just about any future endeavor, he says. “If kids have self-confidence, they can do anything.”
Where To Find The Unusual
Dedicated to inspiring artistry and self-confidence through “a multi-cultural circus arts experience.” Ages 2 and up, St. Paul, 651-699-8229, circusjuventas.org
Everything from free-build junk sculpture to an entire week of Star Wars-themed build-and-play camps. Ages 6 and up, Minneapolis and St. Paul, 612-824-4394, leonardosbasement.com
Regular toddler play, plus weekend art and build projects, including summer bike-decorating events. Ages 1–8, six metro locations, 612-876-3980,
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