Student participates in the circus


Photo Courtesy of Kiara Van Oort

Kiara Van Oort takes classes on ladder trapeze, triple trapeze, Moroccan pyramids, low casting, and banquine which all fall under the aerial and acrobatic genres of classes.

Most BSM students fill their free time with one or more extracurriculars, whether it’s football, basketball, or even table tennis. Eighth-grader Kiara Van Oort also participates in several activities outside of school, but one of them especially stands out: she’s in the circus.

Since she was two years old, Van Oort has gone to Circus Juventas, a youth circus located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Circus Juventas offers a wide range of classes and has students from the ages of two to twenty-two. Van Oort’s parents signed her up for a toddlers’ class thereafter she went to a show and became interested in performing. “When I was two, my parents took me and my brother to a circus show there, and then I just kept asking my parents when it was going to be my turn,” Van Oort said.

Circus Juventas offers classes on over 50 different skills, including traditional skills like high wire, trapeze, and contortion as well as more unique skills like hula hoop, handstands, mime, and unicycle. Van Oort takes classes on ladder trapeze, triple trapeze, Moroccan pyramids, low casting, and banquine which all fall under the aerial and acrobatic genres of classes. Naturally, Van Oort gets to see people practicing a lot of interesting skills, but one of her favorite skills to watch people do is called bungee trapeze. “You’re on bungee cords and then you fall… from like 50 feet in the air… and they do tricks,” Van Oort said.

Because circus is such an uncommon activity, Van Oort finds that not a lot of people have a clear understanding of what it’s like. One common misconception she says people have about circus is that there are animals like lions or elephants, but the Circus Juventas website clarifies that they are not a traditional circus that employs exotic animals. Van Oort also says that people misunderstand the types of skills that she learns. “They think it’s similar to gymnastics, but not usually because it’s more of, like, falling and kind of defeats the purpose of gymnastics,” Van Oort said.

The circus is a very time-intensive activity. For each class you do, you typically have one hour-long practice each week, so Van Oort, who is taking six classes this year, spends six hours practicing her skills every week. With all her other activities, circus can get stressful, and although she enjoys it, Van Oort doesn’t know if she will be able to continue participating in it after high school. “There’s not a lot of colleges that have programs for circus… I feel like it would be interesting, but I don’t know if it would be overwhelming,” Van Oort said.

Because of the current pandemic, Circus Juventas has been forced to close their building and cancel their shows for the year. Originally, they began vacuuming the building and disinfecting equipment more often to help prevent the spread of sickness, but it became clear that it was only a temporary fix and they decided to close for the rest of the year. “We were going to push our shows to later in the summer but now that we don’t have any practice time, we’re just not doing them,” Van Oort said.