Clowning around has taken on a new meaning for students in the Claremont Colleges’ circus club.
5Circus, a 5C-wide circus skills club, touts comprehensive lessons in aerial silks, juggling, balancing discs and gymnastics every Saturday afternoon in Roberts Pavilion.
The club was founded in fall 2014 by Jack Gomberg PO ’18, who began circus training when he was 5 years old. Gomberg started organizing 5Circus before he even got to campus, making self discovery and self improvement a goal.
“I get to see people discover all sorts of talents they didn’t know they had, and it’s been really exciting to see the club morph and grow as those talents are discovered and improved,” he said. “That’s my favorite thing about the club.”
5Circus is now led by co-presidents Dillon Coville HM ’21 and Lauren Froehlich SC ’20.
Froehlich has eight years of aerial silks experience that informs her club mentoring. She hopes her work allows members to try something they’ve never done before in a welcoming environment.
“I really want [5Circus] to be an inclusive space where people are happy, having fun and trying new things,” Froehlich said.
Sarah Sundermeyer PO ’21, the vice president of the club, aspires to give new members a chance to engage with their bodies in a new way.
“I want people to become more in tune with their bodies — to learn the limits of what they can do and create a space where everyone is challenging themselves and each other,” she said.
The club’s balance of its roles as a performance troupe and a practice space has morphed over its lifespan, now acting more as a learning environment than a circus crew.
“Every year, the circus club has to figure out what they want to do,” Froelich said. “Some years, we have a lot more member interest in performing, and other years, [the students say], ‘I just want to come here, I want a space to practice.’ Then other years, it’s a mix of both.”
This year, Froehlich and Coville are focused less on performance and more on teaching circus skills.
Laura Wu HM ’23 and Kat Peterson SC ’23 have no prior circus experience but were enticed by the aerial silks on display at Turf Dinner.
“I’ve never done aerial silks before, but I saw there was a club that teaches you [how to do] them, and I said, ‘maybe I’ll try it,’” Wu said.
Students also expressed a desire to strengthen their knowledge of circus.
“I feel like we don’t know a lot about circus artists,” Peterson said. “They are underappreciated, and I wanted to learn more about them.”
Hannah Doyle CM ’23 said she joined the club to continue her twelve years of circus experience.
“I saw people up in the air at Turf Dinner, and it just reminded me of home,” Doyle said. “I wanted to be in that space of people who have creative and athletic experiences.”
Connecting with other people is also an important part of 5Circus.
“It’s often hard to find things in common with people at the different campuses, but 5Circus allows me to find people who like more creative physical outlets,” Doyle said.
5Circus meets every Saturday in Studio B of Roberts Pavilion from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.