The view from Turners Circus in Louisville Kentucky isn’t half-bad. In fact, it’s pretty amazing. You can actually see the sunset over the Ohio River from inside the studio. But the beautiful location comes with its own set of obstacles. The gym is literally built on 18-foot stilts to stay above the water during frequent floods. Imagine that…a Circus on stilts! But Cindy and other Turners instructors don’t let Mother Nature stop them. During a flood in March, the water was half-way up the door, cars couldn’t make it up the driveway, Noah would have been building his arc, but the aerialists put on their waders and got in their canoes to paddle their way to the silks. Just weeks before their biggest performance of the year, they did what it took to make the show go on. Their outstanding dedication to practicing their art inspired the hash-tag #CircusStrong.
These #CircusStrong aerialists are part of a circus community that goes back 67 years, making Tuners the oldest circus that I have ever attended. The gym was originally for gymnastics, but when a traveling circus troupe needed a place to set up camp in the winter of 1948, they exchanged circus lessons for the space and the circus arts were in Louisville to stay. Its long history gives it a very classic, three-ring circus atmosphere.
It’s a family affair here at Turners. Since the circus has been in Louisville for so long, parents have grown up in the circus and now bring their own kids, or vice-versa. Aerial silks instructor Cindy was introduced to circus after her kids; “ I came in to get my boys involved. I had no idea that it was something that I would want to do. I just fell in love with the costume and someone said, well, you have to do the act in order to get the costume. So I joined the circus.”
The family orientation of the circus is clear during the yearly circus, there are mother-daughter and mother-son performances (check out those adorable photos below!), as well as many other ways that families get involved. This yearly Circus has grown from 25 to 200 performers in the last 6 years, showing the tremendous growth of interest in circus in the area. Turners is the oldest of the two aerial studios in Kentucky and the only in Louisville, so we can give them all the credit for building the circus community in Kentucky.
For Cindy, her love of circus is because of the tight-knit community that Turner’s has built. “I love the group of people. We all work together and help each other. There is no competition. I feel like we all work at our own limits and accept each other for our limits, but we also push each other through them.” I saw this in action as I watched instructors Cindy and Jordan push each other to learn a drop I had never seen. Even though she now does the craziest of drops, making them look easy, Cindy was once afraid of heights.
Turner’s Circus and Cindy are inspiring examples of the dedication aerialists have to their art. For Cindy, it was worth overcoming her fear of heights. For the aerial instructors of Turners, it was worth facing the floodwaters of the Ohio.
Turners is a family, and being #CircusStrong is in their DNA.