Illinois State University’s Gamma Phi Circus will take place on Friday, April 21st and Saturday, April 22nd at Redbird Arena in Normal. This is the oldest collegiate circus in the nation and it’s a breathtaking, fun-filled time for the entire family. How good is it? It’s easily worth the trip from Chicago or St. Louis.
Really folks. Seriously. Take time to come see this. Bring your family and friends. They will love (L-O-V-E) it too, and they’ll thank you for turning them on to it.
It is very family friendly and suitable for kids roughly ages 3 and up. Evening performances typically have the music dialed up a bit and more dramatic lighting.
If you live within an hour or two of Bloomington-Normal, get some tickets. Sign up today. (They aren’t paying for this rave review of the event… our reviews and recommendations aren’t for sale. We aren’t getting any commissions either.)
Tip on buying tickets, you want tickets a minimum of ten rows off the floor anywhere towards the middle. About two-thirds the way up the lower bowl is roughly ideal because a lot of the action is high in the air.
Gamma Phi Circus is the oldest collegiate circus in the nation.
From its beginning in 1929, Gamma Phi has established itself as a unique performance troupe, supporting acrobatic and circus arts in higher education, and continuing the legacy of circus history in the state of Illinois. Gamma Phi Circus performers are found within such organizations as Cirque de Soleil, Disney Cruise Lines, Circus Vargas, Shrine Circuses, Circus Kingdom, Roberts Bros Circus and Kelly Bros. Circus. Gamma Phi alums have performed at Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios-Florida, Great America. Cruise Lines and the Club Med Resort. Alums can also be found performing on television and sports half-times for the NBA and WNBA.
Gamma Phi Circus alumni have created shows, such as the Circus Jenzac, and others have founded performance trade organizations, such as USA Wheel Gymnastics, or developed circus arts programs that educate in skills and performance.
Gamma Phi first took the show on the road in 1947-1948, when it performed in Mendota.
The Bloomington-Normal community has had an historic connection to circuses since the 1880s. It served as the winter quarters for famous trapeze acts such as the Flying Wards and the Concellos.
A curator of the Circus Collection at Illinois State University’s Milner Library has written, “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.”‘
Images via ISU Gamma Phi Circus.