What began as an opportunity for one of Coastal Carolina’s first year experience classes became an invitation for the whole university. Word spread quickly that Coastal students could receive a large discount on the upcoming Le Grand Cirque performance.
For one night only, students of Coastal Carolina University were able to buy discounted tickets to Le Grand Cirque. The thrilling show made a regular Tuesday night feel like a magical ride.
Benjamin Sota, a First Year Experience professor, is credited to have created this opportunity for the students. Sota was formerly a circus performer and felt passionate about sharing this cultural interest with his class. Before becoming a performer, he was an apprentice for four years. He traveled all over the country, in 40 different countries and performed at The White House for George W. Bush. Sota commented on what his hopes were for his students from this experience.
“Hopefully they have fun and create friendships, but also they expand their world of theater,” he said.
Sota contacted Dawn Fromo, the director of group sales, who dropped ticket price from $39.95 to $11.95 for all CCU students.
A colorful and charismatic ringmaster started the show. He kept the crowd captivated between each act. Michael Reddy, a Coastal student, described his experience.
“I loved the ringmaster. He was an incredible clown and had great audience participation. He was impressive all throughout,” Reddy said.
The show housed upwards to 20 different acts including Trapeze artists, a fire torching performance, and a ring of death as a grand finale. As the show went on it was easy to see why this amazing group of people have been all over the world performing.
Between one of the acts, Sota was brought on stage, along with two other gentlemen, to be judged in a Sexiest Man contest. The men competed in pushups, a dance off, and were challenged to “wow the crowd.” Our own Benjamin Sota won the contest, erupting from the CCU student audience a manic cheer.
The night was bursting with cheers, laughter, and thrill. Watching the death defying, dangerous stunts kept the crowd in anticipation; as the show wore on, it was clear how much practice and composure these stunts required.
“The circus has a family element to it. Where you [as a performer] literally are entrusting someone to do something and if they don’t do it, you could fall . . . or die. It’s a gift as a performer, but when a circus performer does it, it’s really a gift because they’re putting their life on the line,” Sota said.
Michael Reddy who is a freshman at CCU was also at the show.
“The two acts that impressed me the most was the Static Trapeze act and the Diabolo act,” Reddy said.
In Static Trapeze, a performer balances on a single bar suspended by the ceiling. This performer wowed the audience by many balancing acts such as balancing on her head, hands free, while being spun around the celling on a small bar for support. The Diabolo is a form of juggling in which an object is suspended in the air by the manipulation of thin yo-yo strings.
As a Physical Theater major, Reddy is starting a “Circlub” here at CCU. Reddy has been refining his own circus skills since his sophomore year in high school.
“We teach circus [skills] to people who don’t have a circus background and hopefully put on a show by the end of the year,” Reddy said.
Although Reddy is still waiting for approval from the university, 15 people have already expressed great interested. For whoever else would like to participate, Reddy can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Coastal Carolina comes out to support, the student body does not hold back. Kevin LittleJohn, the general manager of Le Grand Cirque, even hinted at another opportunity for CCU.
“We have a Christmas on ice show coming, so we might do a discount then,” he said.
Performers start practicing in the middle of October and the shows begin Nov. 4 through Dec. 28. This is an incredible show you do not want to miss but wait to buy your tickets!