Through the air, with the greatest of ease

  • Enterprise staff
  • Tuesday, February 2, 2010 8:42pm

The School of Acrobatics &New Circus Arts (SANCA) brings its Youth Performance Company to Edmonds for its annual winter show Feb. 6, “Up in the Air: A Juggler’s Tale of Circus and Invention.”

The tale follows the journey of a young juggler who moves to a small town, only to find it divided by a rivalry. He throws caution (and juggling clubs) to the wind in order to bring the town back together in a story told through the combination of circus arts and theatre.

“Up in the Air” features performers ages 10 to 18 years old in a unique show incorporating acrobatics, tightwire, unicycle, aerial arts, and of course juggling.

Founded in 2006, the Youth Performance Company allows students from the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) to showcase their performance skills. Company members are currently enrolled at the school, and range in age from 8 to 16 years. Performers in the audition-only group utilize a variety of disciplines, including trapeze, juggling, tightwire, unicycle and acrobatics.

SANCA was founded in 2003 by Jo Montgomery, a nurse practitioner, who saw a steady rise in the number of children struggling with obesity, due to largely sedentary lifestyles. Montgomery was joined by Chuck Johnson, who had helped found the Cascade Youth Circus and has been involved in youth circus, gymnastics coaching and certification on a national level and has performed acrobatics and juggling professionally. Johnson is also certified in heavy construction and stunt rigging and was part of the rigging crew for the film “Spiderman.”

Since opening, SANCA’s mission has been to improve the mental and physical health of children of all ages by engaging them in the “joyous creativity” of acrobatics and circus arts. The school’s philosophy is a belief that the mastery of physical skills builds self-esteem, while consistent interaction with staff and other students fosters cooperation, trust and develops social skills. The physical demands of exercise increase fitness and improve health.

Today, SANCA’s enrollment has grown to more than 500 students and has maintained its promise to grant all scholarship requests. The scholarship program is generated from private donations and proceeds from fund-raising events. Since opening its doors, SANCA has awarded more than $50,000 in tuition scholarships to families with financial need, and more than $21,000 in 2007 alone.

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