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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    School of circus

    Savannah Douglas
    Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat Intermediate aerial circus student Laura Burghardt practices with the Tucson Circus Company under the lead of Annie Mielke on Thursday. Burghardt has been with the company for two years.

    The four years of college are often busy and stressful, but a way to unwind from the mounting stress throughout the semester while sticking to those New Year’s resolutions is through the unconventional form of the circus arts.

    The Tucson Circus Arts classes have a diverse program of noncompetitive classes to provide a source of exercise among other things. TCA was founded around eight years ago in Tucson and began its new year of classes on Jan. 5. 

    TCA participates in local events, most notably in the All Souls Procession, where it took place in the Grand Finale in 2013. The performance took eight weeks of planning and workshops to create an amazing experience for the audience. 

    Although circus arts may seem daunting, TCA makes different forms of the exercise accessible for everyone. Silks, or aerial acrobatics with fabric, is a popular class with both adults and kids, according to Katherine Tesch, program coordinator of TCA. 

    Tesch was a ballet dancer until she saw a show with Flam Chen and decided to pursue a career in the circus arts. She now runs the year round program at the TCA and specializes in aerial acrobatics, stilts and silks. Tesch said she loves teaching and thinks the circus is great for kids.

    “The circus teaches a lot of confidence and convinces them to do things,” Tesch said. “Teamwork is really open and accepting.”

    Tesch said what she enjoys about teaching is seeing the passion students have for the arts when before there was uncertainty. 

    This sentiment of progress is shared by Chase Reynolds, the head prop instructor. Reynolds said the program provides an opportunity for young adults to learn a skill, become immersed into an artistic culture and make friends. 

    “Seeing that joy … and sharing that joy when [students] overcome their challenges and they reach their goals, that’s really special,” Reynolds said. 

    Some of the classes offered at the TCA are stilts, silks, juggling and twirling and contortion training for those who already have high flexibility. Each are scheduled by a student’s availability or on scheduled days of the week. In these classes, students learn the core values of the program — well-being, participation, practice, safety and integrity — as well as understand these values in context of the class.

    Tesch said Tucson is an ideal location for circus arts because the weather is nice, especially in winter, and the pyrotechnics work in the dry weather. 

    “Kids are a bit more willing to jump in; they don’t really have fear,” Tesch said on the differences in teaching young children and college students. “A lot of college students come in thinking this is a fun way to get exercise and kids come in and they’re like, ‘I get to fly around and be crazy.’”

    Reynolds said that what he would like adults to take away from the classes is that they have an opportunity to learn a skill that opens doors into a new world and culture and be creative. 

    “I was attracted to circus recreation when I was in my mid-20s as an artist,” Reynolds said. “I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing.”


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