U students go to Italy for circus competition

stcircus

Jennifer Whalen

stcircus

Two University students will travel to Italy Friday to represent the United States in the City of Latina International Circus Festival , a multinational circus-arts competition. The students, sophomores Sarah Butler and Alexandra Edwards, are performers with Circus Juventas , a Cirque du Soleil-style circus training organization based in St. Paul. Butler and Edwards, both 19, will be the only performers representing the United States in the competition. Their act will be judged based on its artistry, athleticism and agility. The City of Latina competition will be judged by representatives from various prestigious circus organizations, including the Royal European Circus, Cirque du Soleil and RussiaâÄôs Circus Krone. Performers from all over the world will showcase their talents at the festival. The competition will last 11 days, two or three of which Butler and Edwards will devote to practice. âÄúWeâÄôve been practicing a lot more, strictly going over the routine,âÄù Edwards said. The women will be performing the double cloud swing, a cooperative routine in which they are suspended several meters above the floor, swinging and performing acrobatic aerial maneuvers. It lasts about seven minutes, and is one of the few aerial performances scheduled for the festival. âÄúThe cloud-swing is my favorite act,âÄù said Butler. âÄúYou can see the audienceâÄôs faces, and they never know what to expect.âÄù Butler and Edwards have been working together for five years with their coach Chimgee Haltarhuu and ButlerâÄôs parents, Dan and Betty Butler . All five will be traveling to Italy. âÄúAlex and I have been partners a really long time,âÄù said Butler. âÄúOur act has been underrated. Now, itâÄôs our time to shine.âÄù Circus Juventas was founded by Dan and Betty Butler in 1994. Both grew up performing in youth circuses around Sarasota, Fl. According to Circus JuventasâÄô website, the nonprofit performing arts youth circus school enrolls students ages 3-21 in a âÄúsafe, non-competitive environment,âÄù combining athleticism with the performing arts. âÄúMy husband and I founded Circus Juventas to continue and share our passion for circus that we developed in our youths,âÄù Betty Butler said. The school is located in St. Paul under a classic circus-style âÄòbig-top,âÄô complete with a variety of ladders and swings. Circus Juventas also offers a circus training program for disabled and challenged students called Wings. Betty Butler said she was looking forward to the upcoming festival. âÄúTo be able to enter into a world competition is the ultimate goal for these girls,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs a very exciting opportunity to be able to compete at this level.âÄù Although Sarah Butler is her daughter, Betty Butler said it had no influence on SarahâÄôs decision to compete in the festival. âÄúWe sent in about half-a-dozen tapes of our top acts,âÄù Betty Butler said. âÄúThis year they chose Sarah and AlexandraâÄôs double cloud swing act.âÄù Both performers are veterans of the circus arts. Sarah Butler has been performing with Circus Juventas since its 1994 founding. Edwards took gymnastics classes with Butler at the time, and was asked by ButlerâÄôs parents if she wanted to do a Circus Juventas show. She has been with the school ever since. Although their performances involve incredibly complex and seemingly fate-defying feats, neither student has ever suffered a serious circus-related injury. âÄúBroken toes, pulled muscles, never anything too serious,âÄù said Butler. The City of Latina festival is the first international competition for either performer. âÄúWeâÄôre representing the United States, so itâÄôs a very big deal for us,âÄù Betty Butler said. âÄúItâÄôs sort of like the Olympics of the circus world.âÄù