Through the art of the theatrical clown and the one-ring circus, My Nose Turns Red cultivates a supportive environment that inspires youth to challenge themselves, develop essential life skills and engage audiences.
My Nose Turns Red was founded in 1984 when co-founders Jean St. John and Steve Roenker began touring as theatrical clowns Juice and Shootang, bringing their art form to thousands of children through school performances, workshops, and residencies. In 1997, MNTR created a circus program designed to give youth the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of circus training and performing.
My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus has been nationally recognized as a member of the Social Circus Network in a joint project between the American Youth Circus Organization and Cirque du Soleil. The Social Circus Network is designed to bring up-to-date research and resources to the 17-member network to increase youth circus participation and improve program design.
Social Circus is defined as an “innovative social intervention approach based on circus arts. The primary goal is not to learn the circus arts, but rather to assist with participants’ personal and social development by nurturing their self-esteem and trust in others, as well as by helping them to acquire social skills, become active citizens, express their creativity and realize their potential.”
A recent study of the sector research concludes that social circus: promotes physical and mental health and wellness; fosters human connection and belonging; encourages civic engagement and cultural and socio-economic integrations, and builds resilience.
My Nose Turns Red’s strategic plan calls for 30% of enrollment to be at-risk and attend for free. This includes scholarships, a 24-week session at Woodford Paideia Academy, ongoing programming at Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home (12 years), and the TALL Institute, an organization for adults with intellectual and developmental challenges.
MNTR also reaches underserved children by offering full and partial scholarships to our after-school programs, circus classes including the Advanced Circus Ensemble program and summer camps.
The Academy of Music, Dance, Acting, & Gymnastics in West Chester offers programs for all ages, from the youngest babies in the Music Pups program all the way up to the senior citizens, who recognize the benefits of participation in the arts. Dance classes include competitive and non-competitive ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, Bollywood, Irish Step and more. Music lessons are offered for most instruments and voice. Early childhood options include a variety of age specific dance, music, and gymnastics classes. Week-long summer camps are offered throughout the summer.