By Sharon Kunkel
Photos Courtesy Arts Conservatory

The Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) is planning another exciting year of youth and professional performances as well as community outreach programs in its 25th anniversary year.

The CAC is the nation’s only nonprofit organization that combines professional circus performances, youth circus training, and education and outreach programming. One of the feature programs at the Circus Arts Conservatory is its renowned Sailor Circus Academy, the nation’s longest- running youth circus program. Students ages 8-18 wow audiences with acts showcasing stunning aerial artistry, heart-stopping acrobatics, contortion, light-hearted comedy, and more.

THE SAILOR CIRCUS Academy recently presented a sold-out run of its annual holiday show, this year titled “Sailor Circus Holiday Special.” The students will return to the Sailor Circus Arena for the spring show, with shows running April 20-23.

The CAC also runs magnet programs at two area schools, Booker Middle and Sarasota High, for which students receive academic credit.

Each year, community members and visitors eagerly await the return of the CAC’s Circus Sarasota show. This year’s Circus Sarasota Legacy: 25th Anniversary Show will, once again, bring together award-winning international artists in one ring, under the Ulla Searing Big Top on Nathan Benderson Park’s Regatta Island, from February 10-March 5, 2023.

Joseph Bauer Jr. returns as Ringmaster. Some of the featured acts will include Alan Silva on aerial silks, Chu Chuan-Ho performing Tempo Diabolo (juggling, “The JuJus” on tight wire, Oleg Izosimov doing hand balancing, a Russian Barre act from Ethiopia, the funny and adorable pups of “Muttville Comix,” and more. CAC leaders are particularly excited to welcome Tetiana Yudina and Maryna Tkachecko, an aerial straps duo from Ukraine. There will also be clowning and comedy galore.

“WE ARE CONFIDENT that audiences of all ages, from near and far, are going to love the talent we’ve assembled for Circus Sarasota 2023,” said Circus Arts Conservatory founder and CEO Pedro Reis. “We are proud to continue to provide an entertainment option that is unique and unparalleled in our region… and beyond.”

Up next for the CAC is Cirque des Voix®: Circus of the Voice, its annual collaboration with Key Chorale. Thirteen years ago, Reis and Key Chorale’s Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins joined forces to create a unique arts presentation, as they combined the more-than 100 voices of the Key Chorale with the 40-piece Cirque Orchestra and live circus artists. Through this unique partnership, audiences have been held spellbound as circus artists of both national and international acclaim, as well as youth performers from the Sailor Circus Academy, perform with exquisite musical accompaniment.

This year’s Cirque des Voix takes place March 10-12 under the Ulla Searing Big Top on Nathan Benderson Park’s Regatta Island.

MUCH OF THE CAC’s work does not, however, take place under the Big Top. The nonprofit organization presents arts integrated education at area schools as well. Utilizing the engineering and artistic achievements of the circus arts, the CAC has developed a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum that demonstrates the physics, science, engineering, art and collaborative problem-solving required to produce a contraption-based circus performance.

Since 2012, the CAC’s Education Outreach team has helped students recognize the importance of science, technology, and mathematics through kinesthetic learning experiences. The team provides in-class curriculum and supplies to primarily fifth- grade (with some middle school participation) classroom teachers; the culmination of the unit is the performance of the arena-sized Marvelous, Miraculous Circus Science Machine, which demonstrates physics, gravity, force, and motion for approximately 1,400 students and teachers each year.

“When students learn through arts integration, they are engaged in experiences in which they actively build and demonstrate their understanding of both the art form and the corresponding curriculum area,” said Karen Bell, the outreach and education manager for the CAC. “The Circus Science Machine doesn’t always function as expected, affirming that engineers learn through – and students shouldn’t be afraid of – failure. But we’re always thrilled when everything works as planned!”

The CAC is also known for its Circus Arts in Healthcare program, which improves the quality of life for individuals in care facilities by bringing delight to people through the circus arts. CAC artists incorporate comedy, music, magic and more to engage and energize audiences. The CAC works with health care professionals to develop interactive programming that is both entertaining and therapeutic in design. The program is not just a one-time performance; visits are made on a reliably consistent basis, building relationships with residents, families and staff.

“We are so excited to present another season of thrilling and inspiring circus arts performances and programs,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Circus Arts Conservatory executive VP/COO. “We wanted to be sure that this was our most remarkable season yet, especially as we embark upon the 25th anniversary of the Circus Arts Conservatory in 2023.”

THE COMMUNITY IS invited to become involved with the CAC – whether by volunteering, taking classes, doing corporate training, or making a donation in support; visit or call the Box Office at 941-355-9805.