Wenatchee Kids Visit Sarasota, from Apples to Oranges
By Jim Cole
Christmas Day 2014 for three 15 year old kids from the Wenatchee Youth Circus was more than just a few presents under the tree. It was the beginning of a 10 day circus adventure in Sarasota, FL, hosted by their friend Jacob Swe. They had met Jacob last summer when he joined the Wenatchee Youth Circus for 3 weeks as a special guest performer from Sailor Circus in Sarasota. He in turn invited some of his new circus friends to spend some time around his circus.
Back home at the Wenatchee Youth Circus, these 3 kids are very talented circus performers!
The kids arrived in Tampa, and were met by Jacob and his mom at the airport who drove them down to Sarasota. They had a traditional Christmas dinner at the house that evening, but from that point on, their Christmas vacation truly became a circus adventure!
They arrived at Sailor Circus the next day and immediately started meeting the kids and the trainers. Courtney had been there the year before, and already had got to know some of the kids. They watched fly practice, and then Daniel got to practice on the low wire and tried the “Wallenda style” balance poles that his circus will be using this year. Coach Lee Merritt took the time to show him some of the high wire rigging features at Sailor Circus. Totally different from the portable outdoor rigging they use at Wenatchee!
The evening of the 26th was the final dress rehearsal for the Sailor Circus Holiday Shows that was called “The Enchanted Wand” The 3 Wenatchee kids watched intently as their peers worked to perfect the show for the opening next afternoon.
I have known Nik Wallenda since he was about 6 years old, and had the pleasure of introducing him to Daniel. Nik and Daniel were already friends on Facebook, and had previously exchanged photos of each other. Nik immediately said to Daniel “I’ve seen some of your wire walking photos, you are pretty good!” Daniel replied “Well I’ve seen a few pictures of you also, and you are REALLY good!” Nik then invited Daniel and his friends out the next morning to watch them practice. Does it get any better than that?
Then it was back to Sailor Circus for two shows. The Wenatchee kids were given volunteer jobs as seat ushers, and had 8 performances to absorb new ideas!
Then on Sunday morning, it was the girls turn to meet and work with a circus legend. Norma Fox ..aka La Norma, is one of the most famous circus performers of all time. She invited the kids over for some trapeze lessons, and to say the least, the girls got quite a work out!
Then it was back to Sailor Circus for two more performances. By this time the kids have made many new friends!
In between shows Daniel was allowed up on the high wire, and enjoyed every minute of it with some new friends!
Then on Monday, it was off to the Ringling Circus Museum for some “Circus History 101” along with their host Jacob Swe and a new friend from Sailor Circus, Alice Hafner.
On Tuesday morning it was back to Norma’s for more trapeze practice.
In between shows on the last day of the Sailor Circus, Jillian had her Spanset rigging set up in the Sailor Circus Arena and got some practice in.
Daniel McGee writes:
“Over my winter break I went to Florida to visit Sailor Circus. I stayed with performer Jacob Swe for ten days. On my first day in Florida we went to see the Sailor Circus’s final dress rehearsal. It was an amazing show and I could tell that they had put a lot of practice into their performances. I liked the fact that their show was a theatrical performance rather than a traditional circus because it was a lot different from what I am used to. In the Wenatchee Youth Circus we have to set up and tear down our own equipment and we travel all around. In Sailor Circus they are set up in a permanent location so they get a lot of practice.
On my second day in Florida, Courtney Tipton, Jillian Davis, Jacob Swe, and I went to trapeze artist La Norma’s house before the show for Sailor Circus. The girls learned a lot from La Norma including how to swing properly on the trapeze. The next day we went back to La Norma’s and we all watched videos from when La Norma was doing the amazing rocket act. The thing I liked best at La Norma’s was the stories that she told. For example, she told us the story about how her rigging broke and she fell from more than 60 feet and the sand she fell in saved her life.
By far my favorite part of my Florida trip was going to watch Nik Wallenda practice the seven man pyramid and it was amazing!!!!!!!!! I could not believe that he works two hours a day, seven days a week training with his family and friends. It was a once and a life experience to go and watch them practice and also meet my hero! When Nik was finished practicing he came over and helped me learn some new tips about the wire. One example of this is to curl your wrists so that you will not drop your pole if you need to re-adjust. This was an amazing trip and I would love to do it again!”
…But not quite. Jacob and Alice from Sailor Circus will be joining the Wenatchee Youth Circus this summer for part of their tour. Check out additional photos and videos of both Wenatchee and Sailor Circus here on Circus4Youth. And now you can download your favorite photos in a large size resolution for free!