Screw March Madness, Illinois State University Already Has a Circus
|Everyone does stupid things in college, but few people do things this stupid.|
But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. How is it that ISU came to have a circus in the first place?
Back in the 1920s, Bloomington, Illinois was the off-season home for circus performers. A curator of the circus collection at the university's library offers an explanation:
In the last quarter of the 19th century, a few talented young men left Bloomington, Illinois, to pursue careers performing aerial acts in the circus ring. At the end of each circus season, they would return to their hometown to practice. As artists, they developed their skills and perfected new tricks during these winter months. As businessmen, they sought new talent to expand their acts and offer more sensational performances. In time, Bloomington became the leading community for training performers for trapeze and other aerial acts.
Within ten years, Gamma Phi had decided to drop the trappings of Greek-ness and let girls in. In 1947, the circus went on tour for the first time. The rest, as they say, is history.
The circus is still comprised entirely of Illinois State students who audition every fall. Some have even gone on to careers as circus performers. (Think of how thrilled their parents must be!) In the summer, Gamma Phi runs a circus camp for local kids.
View video clips of Gamma Phi Circus here.