Circus act

Performers express themselves in unique setting at Cincinnati Circus

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

Click the videos above to watch the Cincinnati circus performers practice their acts.

Step right up and witness the unbelievable!

With juggling balls in hand and feet strapped firmly into stilts, students like senior Nikki Wood and Adolph Goetz are expressing themselves in the Cincinnati Circus.

The Cincinnati Circus, grounded mostly in the Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Columbus area, extends an invitation to anyone with a knack for performing to work carnivals and other festivals.

Wood is a trainee, spending most of her time swirling paint brushes on children’s cheeks and strutting around in stilts, but she said she aspires to become a high-flying performer.

“Right now I’m in training to be an aerial artist,” Wood said. “Basically, there’s a 12-foot silk hanging down from the ceiling and you have to climb it. It’s more of a beautiful, acrobatic thing…I used to be a gymnast and I like yoga and meditation so the aerial arts are really fun because of that.”

According to Wood, thorough preparation is needed to attain the performing spot. Wood takes strength training classes in hopes to achieve her goal, in addition to weekly circus practices. Wood also practices on her own, strapping her hammock to her tree. Wood said competition is high to become a performer.

“There’s high schoolers like me and high school dropouts who live at the circus,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of girls who actually ran away to join the circus. They ran away and wanted to become really good at it. I’m not as dedicated as those girls though just because I’m still in school.”

According to ECA teacher Andy Goetz, his son, a homeschooled senior, became inspired to juggle in a circus by former Spanish teacher Jen Mott, who has been a stilt walker for about eight years for the Cincinnati Circus.

“MBC did a story on Ms. Mott because she works for the Cincinnati Circus and is a juggler,” Andy said. “I went and I talked to her about it and she said it’s a great place to go and they would love to have Adolph. We took Adolph and he got really excited about doing that kind of thing…He was hooked from the first time.”

Mott also had an influence on Wood’s decision to join the circus. Mott and a daring sense of adventure are what drove Wood to perform on such an unconventional stage.

“I have a bucket list of 300 things I want to do before I die,” Wood said. “One of them was ‘join the circus’, so I said, ‘I’ve got to do it’…I really like adventuring and doing new things.”

Although Andy’s son is strapped into toweringly high stilts, he said the danger of it doesn’t bother him.

“Adolph has always had a very keen sense of balance,” Andy said. “He’s got a really kinesthetic sense about him. I suppose it can be dangerous, but he’s never fallen off of the stilts and so I’m not personally worried about it.”

Andy said he and his wife have a past in a circus performing environment, making it a sort of family tradition.

“My wife and I were both in the Kings Island clown band back in the day,” Andy said. “The key part of the clown band was the clown part; nobody thought, ‘Wow, that is the best sounding band ever’. We were just very entertaining and we were very funny.”

According Adolph being a part of the circus has improved his skill set.

“There are quite a few skills I would never have learned without the Cincinnati Circus,” Adolph said. “The first thing that comes to my mind is stilt-walking. I’ve also learned more juggling tricks, (such as) juggling 4 clubs, working on 5 balls, tons of variations, etcetera. I really enjoy passing clubs. That is a skill I acquired there. In addition, I’ve learned how to spot trapeze-artists, and some magic. The circus is very big on teaching whatever you want to know.”

Being a part of something so different and unique has exposed Wood to a variety of people. She said that learning about others’ cultures and backgrounds is important and interesting.

“I love to meet people and I’m super into finding out about different people’s backgrounds,” Wood said. “The more I went (to the circus) the more I learned to love the people and the environment. I’m just so used to being in Mason with all the typical Mason people then you go and join the circus and it’s a lot of different people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking and living.”