EHS students join the circus with Circus Juventas


Courtesy of Meredith Batey

Circus Juventas member Meredith Batey poses in costume before a performance.

Hannah Owens Pierre, Editor-in-Chief

A typical day for sophomore Meredith Batey involves going to school, hanging out with friends, then driving to Saint Paul to attend classes in stunt parkour, Russian Cradle, Teeterboard, or Spanish Web until around 9:00 p.m. She, along with a handful of fellow Edina High School students, is involved in Circus Juventas, a youth performing arts school in Saint Paul that gives young people the opportunity to train in circus acts and perform in shows. 

Circus Juventas is the largest performing arts circus school in America with 1,500 students ages 3-21. This spring, Circus Juventas will be putting on its annual Spring Show, running from April 28 to May 7 with eight shows in total and 350 performers in each show. 

Batey joined Circus Juventas in 2019 after training in gymnastics for several years prior. Though she finds the two activities to be similar in form and technique, there are several noticeable differences, namely the performance aspect of the circus and the wide variety of acts to choose from. Along with Stunt Parkour, Russian Cradle, Teeterboard, and Spanish Web, Batey has trained in Multiple Trapeze, Acrobatics, High-Bar, Vault Mini, and Dance. Out of all the acts, Teeterboard is her current favorite. “We usually try a bunch of new stuff every week, and that’s really fun. It’s a twice-a-week class and it’s really fun to try new tricks. I get to start working on a routine and I’m very excited,” Batey said. 

Freshman Archimedes Rebrov also started in gymnastics as a child before switching to circus performance this year. “Circus is a lot more lenient and it has a better community. It’s been an amazing experience and the people there are amazing. There’ll be the occasional eight-year-old who’s better than everyone else in the classroom, and that’s fun,” Rebrov said. Like Batey, Rebrov tried a bit of everything in the circus before deciding to focus on Acrobatics. 

Sophomore Willa Maynor, on the other hand, began as an audience member before being inspired to join the circus in seventh grade. “I used to go to the circus in the summers. They would do big musical theater shows, and I always wanted to join it, and then one year I did,” she said. 

Along with difficult acrobatics, stunt, and aerial acts, Circus Juventas involves a performance element. “There is a large theater aspect to the acts because you do have to be good at the acts as well, but you also have to be able to perform the acts and act out what you are in the scene for the crowd to make it a fun or enjoyable moment,” Batey said. 

Rebrov will be performing for the first time in the Spring Show and is looking forward to being a part of the event. “The acts themselves are thrilling both to watch and perform,” he said. “You’ll see someone high up in the air just drop and be like, ‘I know that person!’”

Similar to its adult counterpart Cirque du Soleil, Circus Juventas attracts thousands of spectators to its shows. “The first real show I did was kind of nerve wracking, because I didn’t know what to expect. There’s a lot of people out there who are all watching the show. But once you get used to it, it’s really fun to go out and perform for everybody because they’re cheering and you can go out and greet people after the show to sign autographs,” Batey said.
Rebrov offers advice to those afraid to perform in front of a large audience: “No one in the crowd knows what you’re doing. And therefore everyone will be impressed by whatever you do. So fake it till you make it because if the crowd doesn’t know what you’re doing, you can do whatever you want. Even if you mess up. You’ll still look cool if you put in some pizzazz,” he said. 

Being a part of the circus has given Batey great memories. “My favorite memory was from the summer show this year when I was outside signing autographs and taking pictures. And this little girl came up to me and she was like, ‘You are my favorite person in the whole show.’ And she gave me a hug and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Batey said. 

It has also helped Batey and Maynor in other aspects of their lives. “It has definitely given me a good sense of responsibility with a bunch of different things because it’s my job to memorize the act and be at class on time. So it’s definitely helped me mature and grow to have something I really enjoy and love to do every day,” Batey said. “Circus has definitely taught me a lot about myself and my own limits, because you have to understand what you can and can’t do. And it has also taught me work ethic because I really enjoy it and it makes me want to work really hard at it,” Maynor said. 

For Batey, Circus Juventas is more than just a sport or activity—it’s a passion. “When I was in gymnastics, I didn’t really have anything I really loved to do. I didn’t really like going to gymnastics all too much. I would do it and it was good for me, but I didn’t look forward to going there every day. When I joined the circus, it really grew on me, and now it’s something that I really look forward to every day and every week,” she said.