Cirque du Sophomore

Aaron Lyons

Dimmed lights set the stage; a suspended hoop dangles in wait. While not an ordinary extracurricular activity, three students have chosen to participate in the circus. Jessica Brandon ’16 and Hannah Kelson ’16 joined Emma Kofman ’16 at an aerial hoop class over the summer, and the three sophomores have since joined the pre-professional performance troupe at Kinetic Theory in Culver City.
The girls train nine hours a week with one goal in mind: getting ready for the next show. Each day the practice routine differs.
Sometimes they will dance for the first hour of practice, warm up as a group or do pilates.
Typically after the warm up they stretch for half an hour then split up into their focuses.
“I was pretty reluctant, but I am so amazingly happy that I ended up agreeing to take the class,” Kelson said.
After hearing about flying trapeze, Kofman began taking classes. Three years later she added aerial classes, including hoop, silks and static trapeze to her repertoire, and fell in love with the hoop. She now has aspirations to pursue circus performance more seriously. Currently training with Kinetic Theory, Kofman’s main focuses are hoop and contortion.
“I feel like hoop is really versatile and gives me the possibility to invent new moves or adapt old ones into lots of different styles,” Kofman said.
Troupe members are able to choose which element they would like to focus on, as well as aim to be well rounded performers and attain basic training in most events.
Brandon focuses on single point trapeze, where the trapeze ropes are able to rotate, which she learned after taking aerial apparatus classes.
“Almost immediately I loved that circus offered a combination of performance and building strength through flexibility,” Brandon said.
Due to prior training, Kelson chose to have her performances revolve around hoop and silks.
Her coach suggested she train in contortion as well so she could incorporate it into her aerial acts to widen her arsenal of moves.
The artists have performed 10 times. In addition, they have been in two more shows, “Tales from the Dark Forest” and “Dracula: A Symphony of Terror.”
The Halloween shows incorporated group contortion pieces, trio hoop acts and full troupe ensemble acts.
All audiences are welcome, but there is a PG-13 recommendation for specific performances.
“There is so much to remember when you go on stage, but I think that pressure really tests the skills you are performing,” Brandon said. “I like how having an audience makes me better at what I am doing, and it is really rewarding when a show with an audience goes well.”
“Performing is my favorite part about circus because of all the adrenaline that comes with it,” Kelson said. “I love all the bright lights and being able to see all the people in the audience.”
Despite being unsure about pursuing circus as a profession, Kelson wishes to continue her training until an injury or her scheule no longer allows her to, and said she would enjoy the experience of coaching younger children in circus.
As well as having themed shows, Kinetic Theory also holds student cabarets, open to all the studio’s students.
The cabarets display all different styles, apparatuses, themes and skill-levels, and they get to choose whether they would like to have a solo act or not.
“In our group number for the last show, we were workers in a wish factory and it was a really upbeat and energetic piece,” Kofman said.
Although the performers are unsure about how circus will factor into their lives following high school, the unique experience has taught them discipline, and they were able to become apart of a group training for a goal, just as all sports teams do.
“Ultimately I have learned really valuable skills from circus, even if it never becomes my main focus,” Brandon said.