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the circus project - jenn cohen

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If you've ever dreamed of performing here, we've got the ticket to the big top - which could be at a local school. Dreams of being under the big top are helping local youth, thanks to one woman who's making it all possible. Mike Donahue joins us now in the studio, with more on this woman and The Circus Project. Mike. You are having too much fun out there! I think you're right! The woman you mentioned is Jenn Cohen and she joined the circus. She's now teaching circus skills to local homeless and at risk kids here in Portland. Last Saturday, they performed for the first time. Jenn fell in love with the trapeze as a teenager, and you might say she ran away to join the circus. When I was 13, my grandparents took us on a family reunion to Club Med and Club Med has a flying trapeze program. And I tried it once, and I was just completely in love. It was like magic. It was like I found my purpose right away. Your parents wanted you to go along to higher education but you had other desires. Yes. I tried higher education, but it didn't give me that same drive that I had for flying and circus and that sense of purpose. And you're sharing it now with at risk and homeless people, right? Yes, yes. What do you see happen, as you introduce them to this art? Well, it depends for each kid. I have some kids who come in and who are just absolutely terrified of heights. So, for them to get on the trapeze is elation, it's so exciting when they finally get there. The overcoming of fear. Totally. Sometimes it takes a whole class just to get up to sit on the bar. But then that is a huge accomplishment. In others you see the light come on, like you had in your life, right? Absolutely, yes. Others come in with an incredible strength already. I had a student come in a few weeks ago - who had been in the military actually - and who could hand-over-hand a rope with no problem. But he was so thrilled to find an outlet for that to show his strength, and to show what he could do. Describe what's going on here. It's not just trapeze work. This is artistic what they're doing. Yes. Well that's my purpose. Circus for circus' sake isn't so appealing to me anymore. I'm really into the integration of circus and theater and dance and music. In this act, Nicolette Render and Erin Gerero do a love story of sorts. And the progression is different than a normal circus act, in which it would start slow and then get more and more dramatic. They start fast and furious and then they realize at some point that they're not actually that intimate. That they've done all these fast, furious moves but it's not real intimacy. And so, at some point they come away from each other, and they get in touch with their shyness. They get in touch with themselves and their longing. And then they come together again from a place of more wholeness. You're really trying to make people extend themselves beyond who they are. Right? I mean, in a sense discover what they can be. Well - beyond, I think, the limitations of what they think. I think of it as more bringing out who they really are. She thought that her students would want to run away and join the circus like she did, but most want to stay here in Portland and be mentors for other homeless and at risk kids. For more information about the many classes they offer go to the web site: thecircusproject.org This program is literally changing people's lives making them strong again. It sounds like it, both emotionally and physically, which is fantastic. Hopefully some of them get to come out and see The Circus, here under the big top before it leaves town.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 47 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: KOIN6, Keep It Local
Views: 98
Posted by: innasub on Oct 16, 2010

An interview with Jenn Cohen on The Circus Project - an organization which utilizes the unique power of art to transcend social barriers and inspire personal transformation. Our world-class aerial performances and expert training enrich the Portland arts community, while funding outreach to homeless and at-risk youth in the Portland, Oregon metro area.
www.thecircusproject.org

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