Beyond the Big Top
One of the oldest performing arts, circus functions as a universal language – a performance of the human body, a community activity that unites the hearts and souls of everyone – filling a need present inside each and every human being, that cannot be sustained by the icy glare of a television or computer screen. Circus Flora strongly believes that Circus is an art form that should be available for all to enjoy and experience. As all who attend a Circus Flora performance know, the experience transcends boundaries of age, gender, race and socio-economic status.
Putting this belief into practice, Circus Flora has developed and implemented a range of outreach and educational programs.
Clowns on Call
The only program of its kind in the bi-state region, Clowns on Call brings laughter, healing, cheer and the wonders of circus to hospitalized children and their families. The program’s performers are experienced professional artists, skilled in multiple genres, including music, juggling, magic, improvisation, and slapstick. Spearheading the program is Claire Wedemeyer. Wedemeyer makes ‘clown rounds’ with partners, going room to room, entertaining at bedsides, as well producing shows in activity areas and playrooms. On select rounds, Claire partners with first section violinist Angie Smart of the St. Louis Symphony in collaboration with the SymphonyCares program.
The delight expressed by patients and families is evidence of the healing brought to bedsides every week by Clowns on Call. By learning to spin a plate or balance a feather, young patients are not only entertained, but become active agents in their own recovery: appropriate physical activity is encouraged, minds are awakened by magic and music, and frustrations released through laughter at a clown’s comedic misfortunes. The work of health care providers becomes easier when children are distracted from the discomfort, pain, tedium, or gravity of their immediate situation.
Since its inception in 2011, Clowns on Call has had a substantive and measurable impact on the lives of over 3,000 young patients and their families at SSM Cardinal Glennon and Mercy Children’s hospitals. As many of those served by the program are coping with life-altering illnesses, consistent visits by Circus Flora artists is vitally important. In the words of Keith, a four year-old cancer patient, “Tuesday is my favorite day. That’s when Claire the Clown is here.”
In the news!
Josh Holland of the St. Louis Post Dispatch had this to say!
Underwriting support generously provided by:
Dana Brown Charitable Trust
Dula Educational & Charitable Foundation
John Allan Love Charitable Foundation
SSM Cardinal Glennon Foundation
The Trio Foundation of St. Louis
Tumbling & Teamwork
Tumbling & Teamwork is a two-month training intensive for students with a range of learning and socialization challenges. Serving up to 15 youth per session, program participants learn a variety of circus skills, including tumbling, balance, juggling, clowning, and aerial arts while developing their self-confidence and communication abilities. All program activities, including tickets to the Big Top production, are free of charge to participants and their families. Each session culminates with a performance showcase of individual and ensemble acts.
The specific goals of the Tumbling & Teamwork program are as follows:
- Provide access to positive role models, new experiences, and opportunities to learn circus skills together with professional artists.
- Develop social competencies, including the ability to both trust and communicate effectively with peer team members, to overcome fears and build self-confidence.
- Practice circus arts in a supportive environment.
- Enable creative expression through conceptualization and presentation of a public performance.