Suzanne Santos has trained and performed as a professional clown, and even has a master's degree in theatrical clowning. Now she's sharing that passion for juggling, unicycles, stilts and more with area youngsters.
Santos previously worked for the San Francisco Arts Education Project, which involved going to schools, teaching about multiple aspects of the circus.
"I really love teaching circus; that's what I'm really good at; I'm really good at putting an act together with, say, 30 kids, having them perform," she said.
She spent this summer in the big top in Vermont, literally, working for Circus Smirkus which, since 1987, has showcased the circus arts.
She arrived in Chicago this fall to fine-tune the programming for CircEsteem in Uptown where, since 2001, the group's mission, according to its website, has been to unite youth from diverse racial, cultural and economic backgrounds and help them build self-esteem and mutual respect through the practice of circus arts.
"I love my job; I love working with kids; I love seeing their faces light up when, for instance, they finally get up on the unicycle after practices for hours and hours," Santos said. "They get to do some high-risk [circus acts] in a really safe place. So, when they look back on this time, hopefully this will give them confidence going forward."
The Winter Circus from CircEsteem is set for Dec. 15-16, which is a culmination of the youngster's past 15 weeks of training.
For more information about the Winter Circus from CircEsteem, go to www.circesteem.org .
Partnered, Julieta Garcia; have been together four years
Program director, CircEsteem
Yoga, sports, playing music (guitar and ukulele)
Has performed for the past six years in Corpus Christi, a play about Jesus Christ growing up gay in the 1950s in Texas by playwright Terrence McNally for 108 Productions.
Santos is a San Francisco Giants fan; baseball is her favorite sport. She played Little League baseball and basketball in college.