Circus and performing arts hold unparalleled potential to excite, inspire and challenge students to discover their own endless possibilities.
Starfish Circus offers students the opportunity for active participation in a theatrical event that fits into their available time and their school's space and arts budget.
In just ten to fourteen days at your school, our coaches cast and rehearse up to 50 students, training them in aerial skills, partner acrobatics, clowning, juggling and showmanship as well as proper stretching and conditioning, with a focus on safety and achievement.
Working in duos, trios and groups, the student performers prepare and present a 60-minute circus show for their family, friends and community.
The Starfish approach is full inclusion. All ages and abilities are cast and work together.In the process, they learn to set and achieve personal goals, conquer their apprehensions and shine as part of a team.
Starting with simple yet impressive stunts, shy or apprehensive performers gain confidence and experiment with fearlessness. Older students learn leadership skills by working with younger children. The more adept help ready and refine other performers' routines, and the individualists discover that only the group can build a pyramid.
...One starfish at a time.
In workshops, choreography for shows with physical skills, and full Starfish productions, we've worked with thousands of students across the USA. Every child leaves their mark on us and on the world.
Starfish is about teamwork & fun. Each act is a mix of ages and abilities, with a focus on simple tricks in unison. Students create their own choreography and themes. Every student gets their moment to shine.
Every school is special and every show is different. Students, teachers, parents, and the visiting coaches come together for a once-in-a-lifetime event, and leave with new friends and new problem-solving skills.
There's no universal metric. With a low student-to-coach ratio and lots of individual attention, our focus is on each participant's personal growth in ability and confidence.
The tide goes out, leaving thousands of starfish stranded on the beach. A little boy walks down the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean. A man approaches and says, " Why bother? You'll never get them all. It won't matter." The little boy picks up a starfish, flings it into the water and says, "It matters to that starfish."
At a gathering of circus performers in 2003, a politically-charged actor challenged everyone to say how they created positive change in the world. We said we taught occasional workshops in schools. "Well, what does that do?" asked the challenger. "Maybe you teach them a cartwheel or something, but it doesn't make a real difference."
First we got irritated. Then we started thinking. Does it make a difference to a child to learn a simple skill, maybe even one that 'everyone else' already knows? We say it does. We say, that cartwheel is a gateway to a whole world of things people think they can't do. The kid on the bottom of the pyramid is learning that they're strong enough to support the group--and the kid at the top is learning that she wouldn't be up there without that same group's support.
From a half-serious vow later that night to "Change the world, one cartwheel at a time!", the idea for Starfish Circus grew. Drawing on our previous experience teaching workshops
in mask and movement theatre, acting, gymnastics and dance, we created a program that any child can participate in and any school can afford. In a world where success means never stopping, and theatre is a luxury for the select few, a Starfish Circus experience brings many things to a community. Participants are given an empowering vision of the possibilities of theatre. Audiences enjoy a spectacular and delightful show. The rare pupil with the interest and talent for an acrobatic or aerial career is encouraged and challenged. And over all, the performers develop skills for a healthy lifestyle, including goal-setting, group and solo work, and physical fitness.
We were challenged by a question in Edward Fiske's "Champion's of Change" about youth programs: "What is this place about?" Well, Ed, we're about facing fears and experiencing new things in a safe environment, creating a meaningful performance together, supporting our teammates throughout, exploring an arena of theatre and the arts many students may not have considered before, and encouraging each individual student to appreciate their bodies, abilities, and achievements.
It's a big dream. It's a bit egotistical to undertake it. But we're ready to create big things on a very small scale, and we know you want to do that, too. Let's do it together-
One starfish at a time.
Above all, Starfish is committed to reaching the students and schools who need and want to be part of Starfish Circus.
...helping kids develop skills for healthy, active and enthusiastic lives through circus & performing arts.
Students cross social boundaries and face their fears in an environment of support, encouragement and teamwork.
Respect, inclusivity, kindess and hard work.
A show students are proud to be in. Increased personal confidence, collaboration skills, and faith in their own creativity. And parents who walk out saying "Wow. That was a real show!"
Our two pricing plans allow schools to choose up-front costs or delayed payment based on ticket sales.
Our average residency fee is $3500-5000, depending on number of coaches and number of days.
More coaches means more student participation, and more days means greater skill achievement.
A deposit of $1000 is needed to reserve your dates.
Most schools cover the cost through a combination of grants/budgeted money and ticket sales to the final shows. Some schools show a profit on ticket sales. Typically, four to six tickets are sold per student in the show.
For travel of more than two days' drive from Michigan, an additional travel fee may be charged.
STARFISH FOR FREE
Each year, we choose three schools with severe budget challenges or located in disadvantaged communities. For these schools, we ask only that our actual travel costs be guaranteed, and that the school work as our partner to publicize the show. Instead of an up-front payment, the Starfish Staff remit 10% of the ticket sales from the final performances to the host school, keeping the balance as our fee.
If you would like to be considered for this option, please contact us with a brief explanation of your school and community's budget situation and how you feel we can work together to bring Starfish Circus to you.
Starfish Circus is also committed to working with your local merchants to arrange sponsorships of the program in your school.
Starfish co-founder Allison Williams trained at the Toronto School of Circus Arts, New England Center for Circus Arts and San Francisco School of Circus Arts, as well as working with coaches from the Chinese National Circus, Ringling Brothers and Cirque du Soleil. She has performed in 23 countries and taught thousands of students over twenty years.
A hula-hoop specialist and poi-spinner originally from Michigan and based in Los Angeles, Shani says, "I love teaching circus because it's amazing to see students walk away from the experience with confidence in themselves and in their ability to learn new skills." She loves trying out new choreography with eager students. Shani's also a trick roller-skater!
Emily's love for circus began when she performed with Starfish Circus (four times!) in high school. Since then, Emily has been training in aerial arts including hoop/lyra and silks for three and a half years. In that time, she has developed a love for the trapeze and all things circus, and hopes to spread that love and joy by acting as a Starfish Coach.
"In my awkward adolescent years, I was as anxious and apprehensive as a freshman could be. My theatre director urged me to join Starfish Circus, and I nervously agreed. Whether flying head-over-feet into a 360 or learning to invert in high-low angel, I learned to love pushing myself to experience new things. Now I delight in teaching others how to push themselves to grow as well!"
"My love for circus arts started at Kalamazoo College with Cirque du K. After graduating I took over the college's circus arts classes and continue to work with the club. Teaching brings me so much joy! Circus is a huge part of my life and something I hope to do forever--I'm passionate about training and performing alike."
"From juggling to aerial acrobatics, I've trained with, and now teach for, Kalamazoo College's Cirque Du K. I've been so proud to see my students blossom in their performances. Along with circus, teaching has become a passion. Starfish Circus presents a truly great opportunity to share my love of circus and pass on knowledge and life skills attained in putting together a show.
GET IN TOUCH
Questions? Want to bring a Starfish to your school? Need help selling the program's safety and value to your administration? We'd love to talk.
Starfish Circus is based
in Kalamazoo, Michigan
and travels everywhere.