Have you ever dreamed about running off to the circus (or sending your kids!) We introduced you to Jennifer Richard and Circus Kazoo as our Mompreneur in May. She’s our guest librarian today to give you three books that inspired her in the circus arts. You may not be ready to walk on the tight rope or swing from the trapeze but you can imagine it while you sit back and enjoy these reads:
Books that have inspired me in the circus world
I admire his willingness to be vulnerable and new to a skillset and share his growth with the rest of us. Duncan, a personal friend, sees the contemporary circus as evolving art and is pushing the circus community to grow, stretch, and explode.
The extraordinary story of a young man’s plunge into the unique and wonderful world of the circus—taking readers deep into circus history and its renaissance as a contemporary art form, and behind the (tented) walls of France’s most prestigious circus school. When Duncan Wall visited his first nouveau cirque as a college student in Paris, everything about it—the monochromatic costumes, the acrobat singing Simon and Garfunkel, the juggler reciting Proust—was captivating. Soon he was waiting outside stage doors, eagerly chatting with the stars, and attending circuses two or three nights a week. So great was his enthusiasm that a year later he applied on a whim to the training program at the École Nationale des Arts du Cirque—and was, to his surprise, accepted.
Dreams of the Solo Trapeze: Offstage with the Cirque du Soleil by Mark Schreiber
I loved this insider look at a real performer’s drive and grit to achieve her dreams. Sidorova, after season with SDS, is now teaching in Australia and sharing her love and grace with students. Her story inspires my work.
“Circus is family…. Do you understand? Every circus begins with a family”: these words by solo trapeze artist Olga Sidorova are dramatically illuminated by Schreiber’s portrait of the artists who perform in Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco. A serendipitous meeting with Sidorova at an Amsterdam nightclub drew the author, a novelist (Princes in Exile), into an intriguing world of acrobats, Olympic gymnasts, jugglers, mimes and aerial artists, and he immersed himself in that world for a year. The Cirque, founded in 1984 with headquarters in Montreal, is famed for dazzling productions that creatively employ circus arts mixed with theater, dance, music, sound and costumes. Although Schreiber was refused permission to speak with troupe members backstage (he did meet with them outside the hightop), he was assisted by his deepening friendship with Sidorova while following Saltimbanco to Barcelona, Vienna and Brussels. Schreiber provides a wealth of perceptive portraits, but his eloquent evocation of Sidorova is the heart and soul of this account. Sidorova fled her childhood home in Siberia at the age of 14, determined to realize her dream of becoming a trapeze artist. After some very rough spots, she trained with several excellent aerial coaches before finally joining the Cirque. Here she emerges as a woman who has achieved success in a highly dangerous profession by grit and grace.
I learned from Brown a validation and understanding of play that has shaped my view on circus, people, and myself. The benefits of circus work are ceaseless and I delight in knowing that the legacy of the work will have impact on Lake County. We’ve all seen the happiness on the face of a child while playing in the school yard (or while learning new circus skills at practice!). This is the joy of play. By definition, play is purposeless, all-consuming, and fun. But as Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play. Dr. Brown has spent his career studying animal behavior and conducting more than six- thousand “play histories” of humans from all walks of life-from serial murderers to Nobel Prize winners. Backed by the latest research, Play explains why play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more. Particularly in tough times, we need to play more than ever, as it’s the very means by which we prepare for the unexpected, search out new solutions, and remain optimistic. A fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and inspiring human stories of the transformative power of play, this book proves why play just might be the most important work we can ever do.
Benefits of circus art, (inspired by Rick Davis, professional clown, circus director, &friend)
- Unlike competitive sports, the circus process is inherently cooperative.
- Can be done anywhere; don’t have to assemble a team or have a playing field;
- Inclusive; something for everyone, of any skill level;
- No limit to how much can be achieved; there’s always another level to reach; yet levels are incremental allowing for sustainable progress without long periods of non-success;
- Satisfies a paradox: the student’s simultaneous need for individual expression and the need to fit in with a group;
- Students engage problem-solving skills and develop patience and concentration.
- As students progress, they are eager to teach other students, thus further enhancing their self-image and esteem.
- Circus arts help awaken qualities of problem solving and will power that will be called upon in adulthood.
You can visit with J and Circus Kazoo at the Grayslake Farmer’s Market on Wednesday afternoons or come see us at the Color Aloft Balloon Festival on August 23. Circus Kazoo will be hanging out in our booth!