Photo Submitted by Leona Barocas
What do you do?
I am a juggler and balance artist at Circus Juventas and Jugheads Youth Juggling Company. At Circus Juventas, I participate in high wire, stilt walking, unicycle, rola bola (balance board), theater, and juggling. Jugheads Youth Juggling Company focuses on large group juggling patterns.
Why did you first get into it?
I first joined Circus Juventas in kindergarten after watching one of their summer productions. I thought it looked really interesting, so I joined their introductory kindergarten class, and I have stuck with it since then. I started learning to juggle with my dad in 4th grade and later joined juggling classes at Circus Juventas. The summer before 7th grade, I enjoyed juggling, and my mom signed me up for a Jugheads summer camp. I enjoyed the summer camp, so I joined the school year club.
Where do you go most of the time to practice? How did you find out about it? Do you go anywhere else to practice ever?
Most of my circus training happens at Circus Juventas, but my time is split between Circus Juventas and Jugheads. In addition to regularly practicing at Circus Juventas and Jugheads, I’ve attended juggling festivals around the midwest, which provide very intense training over a short amount of time.
What has it taught you?
Juggling and circus have taught me a lot about patience because learning juggling skills takes a lot of time and involves a lot of mistakes. I have also learned a lot about teamwork because most acts I do are dependent on other people doing their parts.
Do you do it with other people? Have you been able to make friends just from it?
I have made lots of friends through performing at Circus and Jugheads, specifically with my partners on the Circus Juventas juggling team and the other members of the Jugheads Ultimate club. Most of the acts I do are group-based or performed in a group.
Do you ever do performances? What do you do during those?
I perform throughout the spring and summer. During the spring, I perform the acts at Circus Juventas that I haven’t been doing for very long, and I perform in the Jugheads show, which consists of patterns that the club has developed throughout the year. During the summer, I perform at Circus Juventas as a juggler, and the performance is closer to a professional level of performance. The summer performance is very perfected and runs for about twenty shows.
What does your schedule look like with practices and performances?
My schedule during the week consists of seven hours of training at Circus Juventas, six hours of training at Jugheads, and an additional 2-3 hours of cleaning and coaching through the Circus Juventas Work-Study Leadership Program. During shows, I spend 5-6 hours at each show, including pre- and post-show activities. On days with two shows at Circus Juventas, I spend about twelve hours in the building because of the short turn-around time between the two shows.
What is your proudest moment from every experience you have had doing it?
My proudest moment at Circus Juventas was making the summer show cast in 2019 because making the summer show took many years, and the show consists of only the most advanced students. Making the summer show was a goal I had starting in fifth grade, so being in the show was a huge moment. My proudest moment as a Jughead was completing all of the entrance standards for the Ultimate Club (the most advanced club offered at the program). When I first attended the summer camp before 7th grade, I set an end-of-high school goal of getting half the ultimate standards, so getting all of the standards before ninth grade was a very proud and unexpected moment for me.
What is your favorite thing about it?
My favorite part of juggling and circus sees visible improvement in skills and the tight-knit community formed by the performance environment. Unlike a lot of sports, circus arts progress is constantly visible because you can do you weren’t previously able to do, and it is very gratifying. The community is also really nice because everybody is very supportive, and the large age range helps communication and makes it feel more like a family.
How does it impact your life with school, sports and friends?
The busy schedule during performance season makes homework difficult but doesn’t affect school that much. Most of my friends are through Circus and Jugheads, so even though I don’t see friends from school that often, I am constantly surrounded by people I enjoy. The same goes for my family. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my parents or brother, but I am surrounded by my second family, so it is just as loving.
What would you tell someone trying to get into it?
For somebody interested in trying circus or juggling, I would tell them not to give up at the start because learning acts takes patience and lots of mistakes. Don’t expect to do anything perfectly the first time you try; it’s harder than it looks.