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FSU Celebrates 75 Years of Its Flying High Circus

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The FSU Flying High Circus has been a major source of pride for the university since 1947 when it was founded by Jack Haskin. Following the change from an all-women’s college to a co-ed university, Haskin wanted to find a way to bring men and women on Florida State’s campus together through a unique and exciting extracurricular activity. 

The Circus is officially recognized under the Division of Student Affairs at FSU. Any degree-seeking student at the university has the chance to audition for a role in any one of the 18-22 acts at the beginning of the fall semester. It is a student-run organization, so even if you do not get to perform in a circus act, there are many other aspects of the performances to get involved in. Some of the additional involvements include positions such as ringmaster, the dance team and the production team. 

The year 2022 holds a significant milestone for the FSU Flying High Circus as it is celebrating its 75th performance season anniversary with its “Cosmic” space-inspired theme. Director Chad Mathews also brought to attention that it is the first spring semester show since 2019, which was before the pandemic.

Her Campus spoke with a current circus performer, Maverick Haghighat Schiller, about his experience in the circus as well as the ways in which the 75th anniversary was celebrated. 

Schiller is currently a first-year performer in the FSU Flying High Circus. He performs in one act, which is the Quartet Adagio. Adagio is an acrobatic performance in which two or four people (duets or quartets) lift each other in the air and create poses with one person (usually the man) being the ‘base’ and the other (usually the woman) being the ‘flyer.’

Schiller also helps by setting up Spanish Web, which is an aerial act in which performers climb to the top of a rope and perform acrobatic and other such tricks, all hanging onto the rope in mid-air. He said that his “favorite part about being in the circus is how fun it is. [He has] always loved sports and [has] been an active person. Coming to college, the circus was a fantastic way for [him] to stay active and meet people with less demand than a varsity sport.” He also said that thus far, he has enjoyed participating in the circus more than any other sport he’s engaged in before. 

The 75th anniversary of FSU’s Flying High Circus was celebrated all around Leon County. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts—which is free to all FSU students—created an exhibit dedicated to the circus’s 75 years of performances featuring retired costumes, vintage photographs and a documentary that recapped past shows.

The circus also sponsored a viewing of Man on Wire, at the Askew Student Life Center, which is a documentary about a tightrope walker. Several mini-documentaries were also released both on the FSU Flying High Circus Instagram page as well as the main FSU Instagram page. These mini-docs commemorated the past 75 years of the circus and highlighted this year’s graduating performers.

Finally, the circus received a portion of FSU’s beautification grant that allowed the circus to obtain a new front gate and an engraved tile that forever commemorates 75 years of Flying High. 

First-year student Ellie Helgeson provided a glowing review of the circus and its performers. 

“I had such a fun time at the circus! The performers were amazing; I was super impressed, especially by the trapeze and Spanish web acts. I think everyone should go and see it; it’s definitely worth the time!” She said. 

If you did not get the chance to audition for the circus this year, be sure to check out the Flying High Circus website here for next fall’s audition opportunities!

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Hi, My Name Is Sophie Sietz! I am a second-year International Affairs major at Florida State University. I'm from Rockland County, NY, but I love warm weather. If not writing or studying, I enjoy singing, dancing, playing the ukulele, thrifting, taking pictures, and traveling!