I recently attended a Northern California juggling convention and was able to meet and learn from many amazing and talented individuals. When browsing the merchant booths at the end of the day a particular t-shirt caught my eye and has stuck with me through today.
In big, bold, capitalized letters the shirt read “I AM NOT WITH THE CIRCUS” — being a part of Vegetable Circus and knowing the wonderful impact this circus has had on my life I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to strongly proclaim they were Not a part of a circus.
Maybe we don’t all define “circus” the same way. After all, “circus” has had many different definitions over its 250 year modern history.
Phillip Astley opened the first “modern circus” in 1768 in England. Performances consisted of a variety of equestrian skills, but horsemanship gave way to theatrical, choreographed performances held in “Big Top” tents by the 19th century and the format of ringmaster introducing these various acts became the standard through the 1970s.
“Contemporary circus” revived the circus scene in the 1980s and transformed as various groups developed acts involving only human skill.
For many, circus history begins with Astley, while for others its origins could go back much further—to Roman times where games were staged for the goddess Circe in honor of her father Helios, the Sun God. While historians disagree over the origin of circus and argue over certain aspects of its history… It makes sense that our contemporary community would disagree about how today’s circus is defined and what it means to us as individuals.
How does Vegetable Circus define “circus?”
The Vegetable Circus team uses “circus” as a platform to promote health and wellness education among youth in communities across America.
Like many contemporary circus groups Vegetable Circus combines traditional circus skills and theatrical techniques to convey a theme. In Vegetable Circus’ high energy, educational stage shows our talented team of performers combine comedy and music to inspire active and healthy lifestyle choices.
Unlike other circus groups the audience interaction portions of these shows, along with our hands on circus instruction classes, takes our circus off of the Big Top stage and not only make the physical health benefits so many circus skills offer accessible to everyone, but also empower students in our communities to focus, recognize their strengths, and express themselves.
Vegetable Circus is redefining circus once again this time to allow topics like the importance of eating a rainbow of vegetables, staying hydrated, and finding fun ways to stay fit to lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle among out students and audiences for years to come.
Being a part of an incredible team of wellness oriented circus professionals each dedicated to educating and empowering communities to take control of their health makes me proud to be “WITH THE CIRCUS.”
Meet the Author:
Lilea Duran, known as “Belle Pepper” on the Vegetable Circus stage, is Vegetable Circus’ California Regional Director. When she isn’t dancing inside her hula hoops you’ll find her preparing fresh, healthy foods for friends and family or in her family’s backyard garden. Lilea lives in Napa, California.