Circus Juventas

1270 Montreal Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55116


Our Mission

Circus Juventas, a performing arts circus school for youth, is dedicated to inspiring artistry and self-confidence through a multi-cultural circus arts experience.


In recent years, age-old circus arts have experienced a global renaissance, in practice and in popularity. Today's circus is profoundly inspired by the past, but bursts forth with an artistry and vibrancy drawn purely from our modern world.

Circus arts are rooted in many diverse cultures: ancient Chinese acrobats, the Roman Circus Maximus, the Medieval Commedia Dell Arte, the American Ringling Brothers Circus, and many more. Many of the props used by today's artists - from aerial hoops to juggling balls -- are simply modern takes on the common household goods and tools used inventively by Chinese peasants to entertain and show off at annual harvest festivals 2,500 years ago. 

Circus arts evolved from the daring experimentation of those ancient farmers, peasants and craftsmen. 

In fact, Confucius's father was an acrobat!

Fueled by such ground-breaking companies as Canada's Cirque du Soleil, contemporary circus arts combine elements of music, theatre, strategy and dance to culminate in a captivating performance. Cirque du Soleil began as a small group of young street performers in 1984, but quickly became an international sensation.

The group eschewed the three rings and animal acts typical of circuses of that time, and replaced them instead with stunning theatricality and athletic artistry with a global flair. It is against that backdrop that Circus Juventas was founded in 1994.

Circus Juventas, then known as Circus of the Star, began as an after-school program in a neighborhood recreation center. The initial offerings were limited and could accommodate only 30 students, training on hand-made equipment with founders and former circus performers Dan and Betty Butler. From the start, classes were filled to capacity, and after enthralling audiences at their first performance during St. Paul's Highland Fest in 1995, interest in the program only increased. Before long, the waiting list was over 300 names long.

Seeing this widespread appeal, and realizing the local needs a youth circus arts program could fill, Circus Juventas began a capital campaign in 1996 to build a permanent home. By that time, Circus Juventas was serving 120 students, and more than 400 were on the waiting list. A board of directors was established, a long-term lease was secured from the City of St. Paul, and initial designs for the 21,000-square-foot Big Top were commissioned and completed. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of contributors of all sizes, from middle class families to charitable foundations, the campaign goal of $2.1 million was reached, and the Big Top was built in 2001.

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