The Circus Project celebrates a decade of innovation, transformation
Two awe-inspiring performances will dazzle and intrigue the greater Portland area Oct. 12 and 13 when the Circus Project celebrates its 10th anniversary of transforming lives through circus arts.
The public is invited to Change(d) Together, a multimedia event incorporating storytelling and breathtaking performances by world-class aerialists and acrobats. The shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. each evening at Peter Corvallis Warehouse, 2204 N. Randolph in Portland. The Circus Project will convert the expansive venue into a wonderland of trapeze, silks, lycra, ropes and straps.
The Circus Project began in 2008 as a pioneering experiment to empower youth experiencing homelessness through the development of original, skilled circus productions. Founder Jenn Cohen, a therapist and a circus performer herself, believed that the unique appeal of circus arts could benefit traditionally underserved youth in unprecedented ways. The combination of artistry, athleticism and teamwork inherent in circus arts promotes creativity, strength, flexibility, self-confidence and a sense of belonging. Ten years later, 100 percent of the young people who completed the initial program transitioned off the streets. Moreover, they have remained housed, and multiple graduates have become professional circus artists.
With circus arts as a catalyst for personal and collective transformation, the Circus Project expanded programming to include classes available to all children and adults in the Portland metropolitan area, in part to help fund the social outreach mission. On-staff teachers and coaches are professional circus performers who also have a variety of additional training to facilitate working with youth. Circus Project coaches have trained and performed with world-renowned circus companies like Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia and Teatro Zinzanni.
The Circus Project also formed a program for artist training and residencies and now is established as one of the premiere performance companies and circus training programs in the Pacific Northwest, attracting students from across the United States to join its intensive training companies.
Social outreach remains a core component of the Circus Project, and the organization has emerged as a regional leader in Social Circus, a global movement that utilizes circus arts to foster social change. The Circus Project recently hired Rhen Miles, a social worker, educator and researcher, as well as a longtime circus arts student, to manage Pathways, the Circus Project's outreach program that collaborates with social services and education partners such as Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA) and Programs through Education Arts and Recreation (p:ear) to identify and engage marginalized youth. Through its newly restructured Pathways program, the Circus Project also provides an array of support for students who experience barriers to arts education, including scholarships, access to food and transportation, referrals to additional resources and social-emotional support.
The Circus Project's Change(d) Together public performances Oct. 12 and 13 will follow the organization's Oct. 11 fund-raising gala by the same name and in the same venue, with all proceeds benefitting the Circus Project's Pathways program.