Not every community has a circus school, but, for Portsmouth, it is just another unique opportunity the area has offered residents for two generations through Cirque d’Art Theatre.
The program offers extensive opportunities for youth and dancers and will be welcoming students for Circus Boot Camp starting in February.
The camp is an all-day clinic broken down into four one-hour rotations including aerial, ballet, acrobatics, and tumbling rotations.
Students will be divided into four groups according to acrobatic and tumbling abilities with a maximum of eight students or less per group. There is a maximum of 32 students allowed to attend.
Registration is a first-come first-serve basis and opened Tuesday, January 24 for Cirque d’Art students and Tuesday, January 31 for non-Cirque students
Wilkes explained that this class is not for beginners, with the faculty expecting some level of training from students.
“This is serious instruction for serious students,” Cirque d’Art director Pegi Wilkes said. “They really need to have a background in a physical performing art discipline. Even beginning ballet students; this is not for them. They really need multidisciplinary physical arts training to come into this program, because it is serious. A first time student would be overwhelmed at this instruction.”
Wilkes hopes this boot camp is something that gets students thinking about their training and long term goals in dance and circus arts.
“I want these kids leaving hungry for more. Wanting to learn more and perfect more. If they’re in our regular circus program, we will be adding additional touches, because you can’t do it all in one day,” Wilkes said. “If they are in another studio, I want them to go there to work on finishing touches. Or to go home and work on their finishing touches. There is no reason they couldn’t continue working on these practices.”
Staff recommend students be eight years of age, but will allow ages six to seven with faculty approval. Students must be able to have a backbend to attend. Wilkes explained that to gain access to the class, students must be able to bend backwards with their hands raised, touch the ground behind them, and rise.
“We firmly believe in our motto, which is ‘you can’t fall off if you hold on,’” Wilkes explained. “That applies to all aspects of all young adult life. You have to hold onto your values, your academics, your goals, sobriety, faith, family, and you have to hold onto that trapeze bar.”
The studio requests that students attend the full day, pack a healthy lunch, bring plenty of water, and a snack.
The classes are $30 for Cirque students and $50 for non-Cirque students. Registration forms are at the studio, 412 Chillicothe Street. The Circus Bootcamp will be Saturdays, February 4, March 2, and April 15, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Wilkes has watched the previous generation grow up in the school and move onto instructor status. She believes it takes dedication to last with the program and respects their status within the school.
“I love the fact that, one, there are that many kids who want to be involved in performing arts, especially circus performing arts, because it isn’t the easiest of the performing arts,” Wilkes said. “None of them are actually easy, but there is an element of a little risk when you’re doing circus arts and it doesn’t always feel good. You’re on a hard piece of metal, hanging by your knees. That isn’t a very feel-good feeling. Secondly, I love how we blend in ballet, tap, modern, character, acrobatics, et cetera other elements within the performances. It wraps so many disciplines all into one production.”
Cirque d’Art Theatre is a non-profit performing arts instructional program, offering sliding-scale tuition and scholarship opportunities for local participants. Funding from the Scioto Foundation, Scioto County Commissioners, and Southern Ohio Medical Center make the tuition assistance program possible.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved