Apr 272011
Authors: By Samantha Baker and Andrew Carrera

Kryssi Miller and Aubrey Arensdorf stand two feet apart from each other fixated on the medley of circus balls flying between them.

“I juggle at this speed –– 1, 2, 3 pass, 1, 2, 3, pass,” Miller tells her partner on a gloomy Thursday evening outside CSU’s Clark Building. Ten minutes later they’re belly dancing, while another girl marches around in two-foot stilts in between spread-out groups thrusting their hips in circles to maintain the momentum of black and red hula-hoops slinging around their bodies.

“What is this?” asked Bryan King, a senior CSU construction major passing by.

“This?” responded Miller. “This is Circus Club.”

The group of 12 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors organized themselves two years ago to create the perfect outlet to express their juggling, back flipping and fire breathing skills. Opportunities for CSU circus junkies to practice their passion are scarce. Before they formed, founder Bryan Connolly said, the best way to meet their unique performing arts interests was joining gymnastics club.

It wasn’t until March 27 that they were officially allowed to petition the university for resources or reserve rooms in the Lory Student Center. Student organizations must first gain approval from the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, or SLiCE office, before taking advantage of campus resources.

While SLiCE mandates faculty supervision of registered groups, Circus Club is entirely self-propelled. Responsibility for advancing in skill sets, assuring safety, providing equipment and fighting for publicity falls squarely on the shoulders of its members.

“For some people, it’s more about performing. For others, it’s a hobby to pursue,” Connolly said. “I personally either want to join the circus, or start my own.”

But why?

It’s diverse.

“Circus includes so many different types of skills. I toss juggle, I contact juggle, I do some tumbling and hand balancing,” Connolly said. “But everyone is interested in different things and works on different things.”

Someone in the club is bound to know how to do a circus trick.

“There’s constant exchange of ideas,” said Circus Club’s President Kelsey Thompson.

It’s inclusive.

The group is no stranger to strangers –– people come up and ask them who and what they are whenever they practice. And while club members have their own specialties, “we pool together our knowledge to teach someone new,” Connolly said.

“Anyone can juggle,” Thompson explains to curious newcomers. “That’s one of the things I like about it.”

The members of the club are also all friends with each other, Connolly said.

And it’s exciting.

Members learn new tricks every meeting, said Spencer Topa, an undeclared freshman that started attending get-togethers in the spring.
“I’ve unicycled a lot before,” he said. “But after I started going to Circus Club, I learned how to juggle.”

Connolly said mastering an impressive physical feat is a really satisfying feeling.

“You feel like you’re doing something cool,” he said.

In a future far, far away…

Circus Club wants to create professional acts and perform in front of dorms across campus styled after rough, underground shows –– the ones put on by obscure street performers.

“We’re gearing up to do cooler things,” Connolly said.

They’re not looking to be Cirque du Soleil. A gaudy, flashy, superficial display emphasizing visual appeal is the opposite of what they want to be.

Connolly wants something deeper.

“Where Cirque due Soleil brings out glammed-up performers … ours will be a more theatrical act,” he said. “It’ll be down to earth, less glitzy, on a grittier level and have a plot.”

But the group’s intentions aren’t always clear upon first glance.

“Is this a juggling club?” asked a student walking past the circus junkies, to which group members always give the same reply:
“Not exactly.”

Staff writer Samantha Baker and Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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