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New heights

Lakewood Ranch residents have high goals performing for Sailor Circus Academy.

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  • | 1:35 p.m. April 6, 2017
Lakewood Ranch’s Sarah Barg, 17, shows off her aerial silks skills during a rehearsal for “Once Upon a Circus.”
Lakewood Ranch’s Sarah Barg, 17, shows off her aerial silks skills during a rehearsal for “Once Upon a Circus.”
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When Lakewood Ranch’s Alyssa Nucci was performing aerial acts, such as hanging from silks, a year ago in the Sailor Circus Academy’s spring performance, she wanted to reach new heights.

This year, she will, literally.

Nucci, a freshman at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, will be part of Sailor Circus Academy’s four-person, flying trapeze act in the spring performance that carries the theme “Once Upon a Circus.”

“I really like the flying costumes for this year’s show,” said Nucci, who is 14 and has been involved with Sailor Circus Academy since fourth grade. “I get to wear a genie costume, like the ‘Aladdin’ theme, with cool pants and a shirt with a bunch of beads on it.”

“Once Upon a Circus,” began on April 11 and runs through April 15 at the Sailor Circus Arena in Sarasota.

Sailor Circus Academy is a nonprofit that runs an after-school training program for students in fourth through 12th grades. The academy teaches circus disciplines and life skills. The eight-month training program begins in August and runs through April. This year’s class is made up of 104 students. Those students perform annual December and spring events.

In the spring performance, Nucci is a member of the four-person flying trapeze team. She likes to think of herself as an adrenaline junky, flying high in the air for the thrill of it.

“I like the feeling of being in midair,” Nucci said. “There is always a before rush, when I’m nervous and about to jump, and an after rush, which is just exhilarating.”

She won’t be the only Lakewood Ranch resident getting a rush.

Lakewood Ranch’s Sarah Barg, 17, has been involved with the Sailor Circus Academy for eight years, and she will be part of a new act, the “cradle.” In the cradle, a male performer hangs from a rectangular frame while doing swings, tosses and catches another performer, typically a female.

Barg will be the female.

It will be more for Barg, though, who loves the opportunity to act out a role.

“I like that this year’s performance has a different theme for every act,” Barg said. “I’m Bell from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which I’m really excited about. Basically the theatrical element is cool because we’re not just performing like we normally would.”

Barg, who attends the State College of Florida Collegiate School, works on her performance at least four hours a day, 20 hours a week.

“I go home after practice, collapse onto my bed, and then I have homework to do,” Barg said. “But knowing I will be performing in front of a huge crowd gives me the feeling that all of my hard work has paid off.”

Beth Graves, the marketing manager for Circus Arts Conservatory, which runs Sailor Circus Academy, said the students’ involvement in the Sailor Circus Academy will lead to personal growth and success in the professional world. Less than 10% of the students in the Sailor Circus Academy eventually find a role in the circus industry.


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