Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School uses skills like juggling, stilt walking, tumbling, partner acrobatics, prop manipulation and physical comedy to help youth to become stronger learners, community members, and leaders by encouraging them to express themselves creatively, challenge themselves physically, and work inventively with others.
Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School and related programs are attracting youth who have an interest in the intersection of creative arts and physical discipline. The broad skill families of Cirkus speak to varied interests, and each youth finds a place. Cirkus After School provides a path for advancement as older students progress into serving as junior counselors and mentors for younger children. If interested in administrative skills or production, they become interns with Bindlestiff, learning how an entrepreneurial arts business is run, and how events and shows are created. Parents and community members are involved as creative and cultural mentors, volunteers, and co-teachers. College students, former Cirkus After School participants, return on semester breaks to work with Cirkus After School or as BFC interns. Cirkus After School participants perform in local and regional festivals and shows, volunteer as juggling teachers for other youth programs, and are active in community service. Partnerships and creative collaborations between Cirkus After School and other regional youth circus programs culminate in public skill shares and performances. Cirkus After School participants travel to regional and national youth circus events, and report back via blogs and video news feeds on community social media sites. Cirkus After School shares data and program experience with other local and regional youth development organizations and agencies to enhance impact and reach. Cirkus After School becomes a model for other youth circus programs in Columbia County school districts, and generates job opportunities for teaching artists and community members.