The Secrets of Circus
Biff Maier, Director of Faculty & Curriculum Development
The circus is in town, and the energy is high. Christine Landon rolled into LMS representing Circus Smirkus
with diablos, ripsticks, plates for spinning, pedalos and rolla-bollas for balancing, scarves and balls for juggling, and a big rolling globe! Smirkus
is Vermont’s award-winning international youth circus, and their residencies promote their mission of inspiring youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts.
This is Christine’s third visit to LMS. She asked her current boss for time off to come here, because she calls it a “paid vacation.” Nowhere else, she explains, is the faculty so accommodating and supportive. She appreciates the hospitality extended to her by the Blake family, and she is thrilled to share the mind-body-soul experience that is circus. She loves the way kids of different ages work together to improve skills and create acts. She tells us that Kristen, our PE teacher extraordinaire, helps immensely with a flawless organizational structure.
Christine is a master at this. In a matter of hours she knows everyone’s name. Enhancing her magnetic personality with her own clowning, juggling and balancing skills, Christine puts children and teachers at ease and in a mood to challenge themselves to try new things. The kids love that all of the teachers are mixed in, practicing the same skills. Often the tables are turned, with kids giving adults tips on how to improve skills.
In these last days before spring break, elementary teachers and kids are practicing balance like nobody’s business. In the classrooms they are writing stories, creating artwork, adding and dividing, learning about the origins of Earth, and researching Ancient China, while in the gym – and the hallways - they are standing on a ball, dancing on ripsticks, and tossing rings. Everywhere, kids shout, “Look what I can do!… …No, I can do it… Watch!” These risk-taking kids signed up to master things they had never tried before. They are learning that just because you haven’t done it before, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, or that you shouldn’t try. Christine has taught them the Seven Secrets of Circus: 1) Try. 2) Try again. 3) Try a new way. 4) Watch. 5) Listen. 6) Step-by step. And 7) Go slow.
Of course, Christine admits, kids who are active in gymnastics and other sports have developed balance and cooperation that give them a head start, but everyone finds that with practice and perseverance, they get better and better. Kids have figured out that the Seven Secrets work well in their classrooms, as well!