“Every time we put on a show we want to make it different. It’s about the modulation of energy throughout the production. It’s like a roller coaster, you have your ups and your downs. We want to show how the circus makes the impossible possible and the ordinary miraculous,” says Pedro Reis, President and CEO of the Circus Arts Conservatory. This season, Reis and the Conservatory look to do that through various productions, including the Sailor Circus Holiday Show, the annual awe-inspiring performance from the nation’s oldest youth circus. Each year, the Sailor Circus Holiday Show looks to embody a different theme, a unique way to inject holiday spirit into the show. This season, the Conservatory looks to incorporate a more international outlook into the production. “We had done an ‘80 Days Around the World’ show in the past and whilst brainstorming for this year’s production, someone brought up the idea of exploring what Christmas around the world could look like,” says Reis. “We’re excited to explore how Christmas is celebrated in countries such as Germany, France, and Italy, and to bring elements of those traditions into the production,” he adds.

Photo by Wes Roberts.


Along with the music, costume, and elements of the actual performances that will be influenced by this international theme, the set design and props will incorporate the theme as well. “For the United States we might include lots of holly and mistletoe and for Germany, who knows, maybe we’ll throw in some bratwurst,” says Reis, laughing. The Sailor Circus Holiday Show marks the start of the Conservatory’s new year, followed by a Sailor Circus Spring Show, Cirque des Voix in March, and next summer’s Summer Circus Spectacular.

The Sailor Circus Academy began 73 years ago, in 1949 as a high school gymnastics class. “The PE coach at that time was looking at circus kids because they could tumble well. He invited their parents, who worked in the circus and had taught their children,to teach the school kids and the program began and grew out of that,” says Reis. Today, the program has developed into a rigorous after school program where students often train four to five times a week over the duration of the school year in preparation for the Holiday and Spring Sailor Circus shows. The Academy features two tiers: the Red Performance Troupe, which performs in the Holiday and Spring shows to which students must be invited to perform and the Gold Training Troupe, which serves as a stepping stone for younger students who may one day be eligible for the Red Troupe. “The Academy not only provides a great avenue for students to experience the circus in a safe, controlled environment, but it also creates a pipeline of young talent for us. In the past, once you graduated from the Academy you were out. We’ve since dissolved that policy and any student that graduates and wants to continue in our “pro-track” is welcome to, with a focus on a specific discipline,” says Reis.