Gamma Phi Circus coaches young performers

By Alyssa Donovan

July 5, 2013 Updated Jul 5, 2013 at 8:49 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill.-- Young performers from throughout Central Illinois gathered on Friday to show off their talents.

More than 50 kids ages 3 to 7 spent the week learning from Illinois State University's Gamma Phi Circus performers.

On Friday morning, Metcalf School was filled with proud parents of the newest and youngest Gamma Phi additions.

William Keltner of Peoria said, "It encourages kids to get out and try different things that they probably wouldn't get to try at a gymnastics class or dance class. It also gets them performing and gets them lots of exercise and a chance to meet different kids than they would during the year."

Keltner signed his daughter Willow up to give her the chance to learn from the performers she admires.

Keltner said, "Willow has gone to see several different circuses and has been fascinated by them every time. So we signed her up for this to see if she would enjoy doing it."

Willow said, "This is an awesome day for me and daddy."

The final performance of the camp gave children the chance to balance on beams, swing from hoops and tight-rope walk like the pros.

Junior circus director Kim Walker-Smith says the skills the kids are learning are not only useful in circus acts but life in general.

Walker-Smith said, “All these circus skills are developmental and so if they can learn very fundamental skills of balancing and being able to coordinate their bodies then they are going to be challenged to try other circus skills and other skills in general."

Walker-Smith says the camp is also a tool to groom the next generation of Gamma Phi Circus performers.

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