Sihka Ann Destroy, who uses the same stage name while busking, started The Last Carnival in Lawrence in 2014 as a studio for circus training. On June 9, Destroy and the school hosted its first student showcase, debuting the teaching and work within the school.
The comic book-themed showcase consisted of 13 different acts performed by the students and teachers from the school.
The Last Carnival was opened in Lawrence in January of 2014. Destroy said that she has always loved performing. She often went busking on the streets doing small acts for people passing by.
“I played the accordion, the saxophone, read poetry, dance, or contortion. Anything that entertains,” Destroy said.
This circus school teaches skills from juggling to aerial arts. Destroy said that if the studio doesn’t offer a certain skill, she actively seeks out new artists to hold a workshop.
Amy Schweppe is one of the instructors that works at The Last Carnival. She said that about three years ago she had been introduced to circus and started taking classes at the studio. The first class she took was aerial silks, a kind of performance in which an artist performs acrobatics while hanging from a piece of fabric.
“I was fascinated specifically by aerial silks — just the way they move around in the air. They’re really dynamic and death-defying,” Schweppe said.
Her favorite thing about teaching is seeing students successfully get an acrobatic pose for the first time.
“It’s this wonderful moment when people land in a pose, and they get to that moment of doing something that looks really pretty and graceful even though it was really challenging to get there,” Schweppe said.
If someone told her five years ago that she would be training and teaching at a circus school, she wouldn’t have believed it, she said.
Destroy, on the other hand, said that she would have loved to join a circus, but having kids made that a little more difficult.
“This is my way of running off with the circus,” she said.