Teen from Andover and siblings from Ham Lake will perform in a high-flying act this summer as part of Circus Juventas, a youth performing arts circus based in St. Paul.
Emily Hovan, of Andover, will play two characters in the show “STEAM,” which opens Friday, July 27.
The show follows a young H.G. Wells who meets fellow author Jules Verne before they embark on an adventure through time, gathering ideas for Wells’ book.
“It is Wells finally getting to meet Jules Verne, and they travel together on a time machine to the past, the future – from renaissance to post-apocalyptic future,” Hovan said.
Audiences will see characters, creatures and scenes from famous science fiction novels such as “The Time Machine” and “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”
Hovan will play two characters. The first is Conqueror Xodar, an alien who comes to take over the planet. Xodar invades the planet using an act called “Wheel of Steel.” It consists of two metal rings affixed 10-feet apart with one performer in each ring while it spins like a clock face.
Her second character is Col. Nalga, a bike-riding despot from a post-apocalyptic future.
“I am basically Immortan Joe from ‘Mad Max,’” Hovan said.
Hovan has been in Circus Juventas for about a decade, having started in gymnastics when she was about 4-years-old. She is home-schooled and found out about the program after her mom was informed through a group for home-schooled families.
For awhile Hovan did both gymnastics and circus, before dropping the former to focus on the latter. The performance aspect and uniqueness of each performer drew Hovan to the circus life.
“It was more the fact that we could be free form,” Hovan said. “Gymnastics is very clear-cut. It is competition. I have competed in circus too, and it is a lot more fun. Gymnastics, it was a lot more like you had to all be the same, whereas a lot of us were not the same. Whereas in circus you could be different and every act is different.”
As part of Circus Juventas, Hovan spends all year rehearsing the acts they perform in each show, though each show tends to be rehearsed for only about two weeks, Hovan said.
Each act takes one to three hours a week. Hovan is in 13 acts, requiring about 30 hours a week of rehearsal. Her home schooling has been an advantage in this aspect, because it allows her a more flexible schedule.
On rehearsal days she often ends up starting her practice in the early afternoon and running through the evening. The flexible school schedule has helped Hovan give circus performing center stage in her life.
The rigors of circus performance have put Hovan into an athlete’s mindset. She has to be careful to stay healthy as a way to avoid injuries. She missed 12 weeks last year due to a pair of leg fractures from a fall she took years before.
Another way Hovan works to avoid injuries is imagining her stunts ahead of time in her head. When it comes time to perform, focus is critical to not getting hurt.
“Just making sure you have a clear mindset before you go into a rehearsal or before you go into a training is super important, because otherwise you don’t think about what you are doing – that is when accidents happen,” Hovan said.
Despite threats of bodily injury, Hovan wants to make a career out performing.
Now that she has graduated high school, Hovan expects to stay for about another year, then hopes to find a job or get into a performance college.
Ham Lake siblings perform
After four years performing in the circus, a Ham Lake brother and sister have their final show together this summer.
Sophie and Tristan Bauer play roles in “STEAM” with Circus Juventas.
Sophie, 20, is in her last production with the circus and plans to begin a three-year program at a circus college in Belgium starting in September.
This year Sophie plays Hermione, one of the show’s main characters.
“She is a scholarly adventurer who is part of the trio of adventurers,” Sophie said.
It’s a big change from previous roles.
“This is definitely very different than anything I’ve ever played,” Sophie said. “My more-well-known roles were very evil. I played the Red Queen … in ‘Wonderland.’ So that was quite a drastic change for me to switch to something a lot more reserved and shy and in love. … She’s been a really fun character to dive into. She’s really quirky and clumsy.”
In this role Sophie gets to perform on all the apparatuses she practices: aerial bike, aerial chair, Cyr wheel, five-gal hand balance, flying silk, Spanish web and straps.
It’s exciting for her to perform on all her apparatuses in her final year with Circus Juventas.
Tristan, 17, also performs in a variety of acts in the show as a “sky pirate” named Sterling. The sky pirates follow the authors around and help them out, he said.
“We’re kind of the ‘cool guys’ of the show,” he said. “We’re very acrobat-oriented.”
In addition to tumbling, Tristan performs on Russian bar, Russian swing, teeter board and wall trampoline.
Both siblings found their way to the circus a little over four years ago.
Tristan had been in gymnastics but found it too repetitive.
“I was looking for something that was a little bit new, something I could still do acrobatics in, but nothing had really piqued my interest,” he said.
Similarly, Sophie had been dancing since she was 2 1/2 years old but wanted something more.
“I decided I wanted to take my dance to a new creative level and decided to join the circus,” she said.
Both the Bauers have been home-schooled (Sophie graduated in 2015, and Tristan will be a senior this fall), which has provided the flexibility to devote time to the circus – a serious commitment. The siblings practice five days a week and put in 25 hours a week or more.
“It’s a very intense process,” Sophie said. “It’s a lot of time and passion and care put into the show.”
All that time pays off in a solid team that performs impressive feats together, according to Tristan.
The circus acts require “a lot of trust and teamwork … and knowing your bases and your flyers,” he said. “You really have to know how they move, and you have to be able to trust them.”
Tristan and Sophie agree this summer’s show is special.
“I would say that this show I am most excited for out of the four years that I’ve been here,” Tristan said. “The visual and the spectacle is going to be great.”
“We’ve worked really, really hard,” Sophie said. “It’s going to be one of our best shows we’ve had in a while, and we’re excited to share that with Minnesota.”
Tickets to the show
“STEAM” runs July 27 through Aug. 12 with performances in the afternoon and evening. Tickets start at $23.50, and there are discounts for families, children and seniors.
All shows are at 1270 Montreal Ave., St. Paul.