In 2001, after training and touring with Ringling Bros., Paul Miller founded CircEsteem (CE) with donated tennis balls, a rolling globe, and a vision. In less than two years, CE was incorporated as a not-for-profit and had served thousands of children at sites ranging from Lake Forest to the city’s South Side. CircEsteem's programs now include: The Chicago Youth Circus - circus classes and performances at places like Navy Pier and Millennium Park; Homework & Circuswork - an after-school tutoring program which uses circus classes as motivation to bring participants' grades up; Residency Programs and Summer Camps - long- or short-term, either during or after school; and CircusTeens - a youth employment initiative, paying experienced teens to act as teaching interns and mentors.

Artistic Statement: 

Circus creates a multi-faceted world full of skill, humor, and beauty. CircEsteem is an arts outreach program designed to build self-esteem and respect for each other through the practice of circus arts. Our approach is action-based, using fun and focused development of circus skills to achieve our broader goals. Circus encompasses both physical skills - juggling, balancing, and stilt walking - and performance skills - character, improvisation, and ensemble. We provide many staff for each project, allowing individual attention and a safe experience. Through this type of mentoring, CircEsteem hopes to diminish the constant realities of prejudice and self-doubt by providing a positive environment that emphasizes teamwork and accomplishments. Children may have seen the circus before, but with CircEsteem they create and perform a circus demonstrating their newfound abilities.

Residency Type: 
Performance Company