To be able to represent this community with people from all over the world is a great honor in itself, but to be only 12 years old and do this is even more spectacular.
Skylar Steinhauer from Cirque de Art in Portsmouth has been selected to go to the National Circus School in Montreal, Canada for the next two weeks. Steinhauer has been studying at Cirque de Art, since she was four years old and says loves it.
“I go this Saturday for two weeks, and I’m all packed and ready and I am super super excited,” Steinhauer said. She added they could not be doing this without the ESC (Educational Service Center) Summer Enrichment program and the OAGC (The Ohio Association for Gifted Children). The school will have Steinhauer studying and working seven hours a day. “I got scholarships for getting straight A’s and I saw a dance school and I really wanted to do that. I was 50/50 on whether I’d get accepted because it’s really hard to get in,” Steinhauer said. “You have to present videos of an acro routine and contortion you also have to send in still photos also. We sent in acro, contortion, and dances on the hoop.”
Sami Matthews, who is now a teacher at Cirque de Art, went to Montreal when she was 16 years old. She said National Circus School takes about 50 people from all over the world and it is a big process and hard to try to get in the school. She said she is thrilled that Steinhauer is going now. Matthews has been working with Steinhauer to prepare her for the trip and the school. Matthews said she is looking forward to when Steinhauer gets back so she can show them what she learned, just like she did when she went.
Pegi Wilkes and Trisha Schmidt are the directors of Cirque de Art and Wilkes was actually the founder. Wilkes is orginally from Portsmouth, but when she was in jr. high, her whole family moved to south Florida and she came back here about 20 years ago, but this is her home and she said, “I never wanted to leave here.”
“We are a nonprofit organization and we were started through a community initiative through the Ohio Arts Council and the need was identified that there wasn’t anything for teenagers to do in this area,” Schmidt said.
The Southern Ohio museum came to Wilkes and asked her what she thought about starting a circus program, and that they knew she had done that in Florida. “Our organization was founded on 9/11/2011 and we weren’t sure if anyone would show. Everybody showed up and I think it was really a relief to have that as a break away from that and the thing that is really cool, I think the cirque program has kind of evolved from that,” Schmidt said. “When you come here it’s kinda of a break from reality,a break from stress, and a break from troubles. Our motto is, ‘you can’t fall off, if you’re holding on, and that means holding on to the airiel equipment, or holding onto your friends, and or your family etc.”
Wilkes said she was really retired when they asked her to do this, “and I said, look two days a week maximum, 22 kids, and I’m okay with that,” she said. “We didn’t even start day one with that, there were 50 kids that came that first day. Now we have over 200 and we’re here five days a week.”
Schmidt added, “ We are a stand alone organization, our money mainly comes from the Scioto Foundation and secondary money comes from the Marting’s Foundation, Schmidt Family Restaurants, and SOMC and then we fundraise. We emplyoy 18 teens here, we’ve not only provided a place for them to come, but we’ve provided a place for them to work. We’ve had three who are out of the program, that are now studying in education.”
Steinhauer says that she comes to Cirque de Art about four days a week. When asked if she knew what she would be doing at the school, she said, “not really but I got to pick three things to study which was tumbling, Spanish web, and contortion.” She was asked if she would be nervous to come back and teach to the class what she will learn and she said, “not really.” She added and mentioned that her father Seth, came to Cirque de Art when he was younger and that it was cool.
When Wilkes and Schmidt were asked about it being an honor for one of their students to get to go, they said that they cried both times, when Matthews was selected and Steinhauer too. “We knew it was a really big deal and then now to have two people to go to a worldwide Circus school from the same place is amazing, I don’t think people understand this is from all over the world, this is the entire world and we have had two,” Wilkes said. Schmidt added as a side note, that both she and Wilkes design a most all of their equipment and the metal things they take to Rush Welding & Machine Inc., located in Portsmouth to build and they have been helping see their designs come to fruition. “We believe in Portsmouth and we want everything we have to do here, to be done locally,” Wilkes said.
Steinhauer is a sixth grader at Minford and her parents are Seth and Melissa Steinhauer.
As a School for the Arts, The Ecole Nationale de Cirque (National Circus School) is an institution for higher education located in Montreal with a primary mission to prepare circus artists. Internationally renowned for highest-quality training, the School opens its doors to more than 150 students from all over the country and around the world.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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