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Lake Middle School eighth grader Kate Schullo is currently performing contortion and a hand balancing routine in Circus Juventas’ summer show “Neverland.” (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)2 / 3
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Lake Middle School eighth grader Kate Schullo has a not-so-typical summer hobby – the circus.

Since last fall, Schullo has been involved in Circus Juventas, a St. Paul-based youth circus school.

“I love how it’s different than everything else,” she said. “It’s not just another sport or something.”

Schullo is currently performing in Circus Juventas’s summer show “Neverland,” which opened Aug. 1 and runs through Aug. 17.

Schullo performs both contortion and hand balancing in the show.

Circus Juventas

Schullo first heard of Circus Juventas from her mother who attended one of the school’s performances.

“I really just wanted to do it,” she said.

Circus Juventas offers classes in aerial acts, acrobatics, balance, juggling and circus theater.

When Schullo enrolled at Circus Juventas, the contortion and balancing acts were the classes she took first because she had previously taken gymnastics and seemed like it would be a natural fit.

“I came from gymnastics, so I was already flexible,” she said, “and with all the other acts, I didn’t know much about them.

“Contortion just seemed right up my alley to do.”

Schullo began taking beginner classes at Circus Juventas and eventually worked her way up to the advanced classes.

Circus Juventas costs $40 for the whole year.

Schullo said the key to being successful at contortion and hand balancing is stretching.

“You always have to keep stretching so you’re flexible enough to do it,” she said.

Second star to the right

“Neverland” is essentially the story of “Peter Pan” told through circus acts.

Peter Pan brings the Darling children to the magical world of “Neverland” where they encounter the ruthless Captain Hook and his band of pirates.

Some of the acts featured in this year’s show include a fire-dance routine, a high-flying cradle-to-cradle act, a lyrical duo straps act, bungee trapeze and Icarian games – otherwise known as “human juggling.”

“I just really love ‘Neverland’ in general and how you can tell the storyline with the circus together,” Schullo said. “It makes it perfect.”

Schullo is featured in two separate acts during the show – a contortion act and a hand balancing act.

In the contortion act, Schullo performs as one of Neverland’s magical mermaids.

In the act, Schullo performs as a team of three where she and the other contortionists are able to bend themselves into various formations while using each other for several balancing tricks.

In the hand balancing routine, Schullo performs as part of the “Fire Clan,” which is associated with Tiger Lily.

With hand balancing, Schullo performs, on her hands with her legs in the air, on an elevated frame. While in the hand stand, Schullo flexes her legs into various positions while balancing on one, or two, hands.

Leading up to the summer show, Schullo said she is typically at Circus Juventas every night of the week, except Sunday and Wednesday, from roughly 4-9 p.m.

“I love being here all summer,” she said.

Schullo said she hopes to stay involved with Circus Juventas and even hopes to start taking different classes, such as bungee trapeze, hanging perch and triangle trapeze.

“I love being able to do something that nobody thinks they could possibly do,” she said. “I love being able to use my body in a cool way.

“This is an amazing place and I love being here.”

 Circus Juventas’ summer performance, “Neverland,” will have public performances Aug 1-3, Aug. 6-7, Aug. 9, Aug. 14-16 and Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. and on Aug. 2-3, Aug. 9-10 and Aug. 16-17 at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $14 to $35. Tickets are limited and can be purchased through Ticketworks at or 612-343-3390 or by calling the Circus Juventas box office at 651-699-8229.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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