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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sailor Circus youth troupe to perform in Tarpon April 16

By MARK SCHANTZ The Suncoast News April 6, 2011 TARPON SPRINGS - Sailor Circus, Sarasota's famed youth circus troupe, will perform at the Tarpon Springs Performing Art Center next Saturday. Sailor Circus, known as "The Greatest 'Little' Show on Earth," will perform in honor of the second World Circus Day. The worldwide celebration was created by the 3-year old Federation Mondiale du Cirque, an international group based in Monte Carlo formed to promote and preserve circus arts. Princess Stephanie of Monaco is the patroness of the Federation Mondiale du Cirque. Sailor Circus will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Performing Arts Center. The center is inside City Hall, at 324 E. Pine St. "Shows at the Sailor Circus Arena in Sarasota sell out on a regular basis," said Gen Haley, city cultural services spokeswoman. For more than 60 years, Sailor Circus has thrilled audiences around the globe with outstanding feats performed by students. The program began in 1949 in the gymnasium at Sarasota High School. In 2004, the Police Athletic League of Sarasota County took over the Sailors Circus. Sailor Circus and has grown into a nonprofit, four-ring production, with the goal of helping youth develop life management skills, self-discipline and confidence while carrying on the legacy of the circus. Youngsters from fourth grade through high school practice 20 to 30 hours a week in this after-school program. Sailor Circus has trained more than 10,000 students to perform such exotic acts as flying trapeze, high wire, juggling, unicycle, and the more modern feats made popular by Cirque du Soleil. "The most remarkable thing is that these are not children of circus performers or gymnasts," Haley said. "They are just normal kids who learn the circus arts through hard work and dedication to excellence. In the beginning, performers are taught the basics of unicycle, tumbling, and clowning." As they mature and their strength and skill level grows, the coaches move them into the more difficult acts until they are ready to perform at the highest levels," said Haley. The program covers all aspects of the circus, including rigging, concessions, costume design, and props. Parents, grandparents, and friends donate more than 20,000 volunteer hours each season to make the program happen. They help rig the equipment, sell concessions, make costumes, sell tickets, usher, and build props. Most of the coaches are retired circus performers from the Ringling Circus, the Hanneford Shows, Sailor Circus or other programs. Reserved seating tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for center members and $6 for students. For tickets call the Box Office at 727-942-5605 or order online at www.tarponarts.org.

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