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ISU’s Gamma Phi Circus brought a taste of Broadway to Bloomington-Normal

Written by on April 23, 2024

Image courtesy of the Gamma Phi Circus Facebook page

NORMAL, Ill. – The annual Gamma Phi Circus took place this past weekend, with a show on Friday night, a matinee on Saturday, and a show on Saturday night.

From its beginning in 1929, Gamma Phi is the oldest collegiate circus in Illinois and has established itself as a unique performance troupe. It facilitates acrobatic and circus acts in higher education and continues the legacy of circus history in Illinois. This year’s theme was the “Magic of Musicals.” Each act represented a different musical.  Some musicals that were featured were “Hamilton,” “High School Musical,” “La La Land,” “A Star Is Born” and “Mama Mia.” Circus Program Director Rainie Themer Bosquet provided some information on how the shows went.

“The overall mission Gamma Phi attains is to provide opportunities for ISU students and to develop mentally and physically through the practice of the circus arts,” Themer Bosquet said. “This includes developing leadership skills, collaboration skills and performing skills.”

The performances included various acts such as the high wire, German wheel, hoop diving, Russian swing, juggling, tumbling, etc.  With all these extravagant acts, it takes time to perfect it for the performance. Gamma Phi starts practicing the same day as classes start in the Fall semester. 

“The returning students come back to the gym to practice that day,” Themer Bosquet said.”We hold open houses that all ISU students can attend. At these open houses, students can try out all the different skills to decide whether they are interested in joining.”

The Gamma Phi Circus entertained a wide audience ranging from children to adults, According to Themer Bosquet, the turn out for the three shows was 13,424 audience members.

Every year, one student is awarded the Max Honn Service Awarded. Senior members who are in their graduating year are eligible to be nominated for this award. The students within the membership vote on this. The recipient of this award this year is Juan Escobedo.