At This School, Clowning Around Is Part Of The Homework

“A lot of people can do a double somersault but not all of them can perform in the best circus.”

By Pablo Arauz PeñaMay 13, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From KERA News

There’s a school in North Texas that’s unlike any other. Instead of math and writing, it teaches classes like juggling and contortion.

Fifteen-year-old Kameron Badgers is in juggling class at Lone Star Circus School. The rehearsal room looks like a normal gym, except there’s circus gear all over the place: juggling clubs, colorful feathers, rings and a tightrope.

Kameron’s routine is still rough, but it’s part of the kid’s show that debuts Saturday.

“Our routine is called ‘The Samurai’ and the first thing is, we come out from the two sides, we walk to the middle, show ourselves to the audience and we do that ‘wah-chichi-tah!’ stuff,” Kameron explained.

Every clown gets a name. Kameron’s clown name is Badgers, like his last name.

“Kameron was a very shy child when he was younger,” said his grandmother, Deborah McCallister-Holland. “If you met him today, you’d never believe that. The teachers and the coaches here are fabulous at pulling kids out and showing them that they can do anything.”

Today, as Kameron juggles school, clowning and acting gigs, it’s more than just a hobby.

“A circus is not just trapeze and juggling and clowning,” said Kameron. “That’s what a circus needs. But what a circus is, is far more unimaginable. It’s love. It’s family.”

Beyond the circus tent

Lone Star’s students range from two to 71 years old. Clown and juggling classes are on Thursdays, with toddler classes on Saturdays, but this isn’t the kind of circus with elephants and motorcycle, said Amy Cohen, executive director of American Circus Educators based in New York.

“Contemporary circus can look lots of different ways but it’s not usually presented in a tent, it does not usually have animals,” she said. “It typically can be presented in a theater or outdoors in an environment that could live along dance and music.”

What sets Lone Star apart from the 250 or so circus schools in the U.S. is a strong European influence. That means a focus on movement as live poetry, said Fanny Kerwich, the school’s director.

“A lot of people can do a double somersault but not all of them can perform in the best circus,” she said.

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