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A new generation of circus performers got their chance to spin plates, clown around, bounce yo-yos and spin in the air on a fabric harness.

Circus Camp at Kids’ & Teen College was held last week at the College of Southern Maryland’s La Plata campus.

On the second to last day of the weeklong camp, children ages 9 to 14 continued to rehearse circus skills. Each camper worked on a particular skill to perform as their “showcase.”

“Showcase is a chance for them to practice performing before their peers so they get used to performing in front of people before the big show,” said Doug Young, one of the instructors for the camp.

“The big show” was held on the final day of camp. Campers performed together for friends and family in skits using the skills they acquired at the camp.

Kristof Lile, 11, of White Plains attended Circus Camp for the first time this summer.

“It seemed fun to learn all the tricks to the circus,” Kristof said of his decision to sign up for the camp.

Kristof, who attends Matthew Henson Middle School, said he always has been interested in circus tricks, and found he was good with the Chinese yo-yo.

“That’s the thing I’ve been working on the hardest,” Kristof said. He also focused on learning how to spin plates.

Bianca Wheeler, 11, also found she was good with the Chinese yo-yo, a spinning cylinder balanced on a string between two sticks. She even created a new trick, which she and a fellow camper called “the Bianca special.”

“I just thought of making something new,” said Bianca, who attends Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School and lives in Waldorf. Bianca said she was practicing the Chinese yo-yo one day and accidentally discovered the new trick.

Bianca has attended camps with Kids’ and Teen College since she was 2. This summer was the third time she participated in Circus Camp.

“I like that [there is] no judgment,” Kinsey Polk, 13, of Waldorf said of her camp experience. “You can do whatever you want and be whatever you want.” Of performing for an audience as part of a circus, Kinsey said that no matter what you do, the audience will still love you.

Kinsey, who attends Theodore G. Davis Middle School, has attended one or two Kids’ and Teen College camps every summer for several years. This summer, she attended Circus Camp for the second time.

Last year, she said, she practiced a lot of stilt walking and tumbling, but this year she focused on fabric and plate juggling. She said that if she can find a way, she will continue to practice fabric, two long pieces of aerial silk hanging from the ceiling on which a performer does acrobatic techniques.

Iris Golden, 10, and Simone Hairston, 10, both attend Dr. James Craik Elementary School and live in La Plata.

The two friends signed up for Circus Camp together. It was Iris’ first time, but Simone’s second.

“[Circus Camp is] not things that you do every day,” Iris said.

Simone enjoyed the opportunity to perform, and said she will try it more in the future.

“Circus Camp makes me feel like I can do anything,” Simone said. She said she enjoys performing because, for her, “it brings out your real personality,” and she feels like the performance is part of who she is.

Both Iris and Simone said they enjoyed hula-hooping. For their showcase performance, however, they performed a fabric duet.

Campers also learned how to juggle. Young said that the campers start by juggling with scarves, then bean bags, and work their way up to rings and clubs.

Young, who lives in New Jersey, taught at Circus Camp for the first time this summer. He also teaches at circus schools in Princeton, N.J., and Philadelphia.

In the circus business for 15 years, Young actually went to school for musical theater.

“But circus sort of found me,” Young said. He currently is working on opening his own circus school on the Jersey Shore, where he hopes to train circus performers but also show people that circus performing is another fitness option.

“I got into circus as more of a physical fitness aspect,” Young said. He began as a circus clown and gradually learned other skills.

“In the circus, you kind of have to learn to do everything,” Young said. “That’s how you get by.”

Young said his favorite aspect of teaching Circus Camp is that it is “a non-judgment [space].” He hopes that campers learn at least one skill during the week and challenge themselves.

Circus Camp is offered for one week each summer at the La Plata and Leonardtown campuses of CSM under the direction of Michael Rosman, a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College.

For more information about camps at Kids’ and Teen College, go to www.csmd.edu.

rbarnabi@somdnews.com