Clown around with NIU’s unofficial circus club


Caleb Johnson

Nam Pham, freshman illustration major, showing Circus Club members a performance act. (Northern Star | Caleb Johnson)

By Caleb Johnson, News Reporter

DeKALB – People pranced and bean bag balls littered the floor as a small crowd gathered on Thursday in studio room A at the Campus Recreation building for the unofficial Circus Club meeting.

The club meetings themselves have no formal structure since the club is unofficial, this allows students to come and go as they please.

The club itself was started by Nam Pham, a first-year illustration major and Circus Club president, and Van Tran, a first-year business major and Circus Club vice-president.

“We were coworkers, and Nam asked me if I wanted to go outside and juggle with him,” Tran said.

Tran said that Pham was impressed with how quickly she picked up juggling. When Tran joked about starting a club, she and Nam were inspired by the idea.

Club participants can get the chance to practice various circus acts such as juggling, staff spinning and stilt walking. Pham usually brings a variety of objects for the club members to play with.

Students can also try their hand at activities such as poi ball spinning, back flips and handstands.

Poi balls are the name of a ball attached to a rope or cord. Originally, poi was used as a performance art by the Maori people of New Zealand, and it evolved into a modern artform.

In the Circus Club, they use practice poi, a less sophisticated poi used for training purposes. It is softer than traditional poi balls and usually consists of a cloth wrapped around  a tennis ball or soft ball tied together with a cord.

Students can practice with the club regardless of their current skill level. One such student, Margaret Thomas, a first-year environmental engineering major, likes to come to relax, socialize and learn juggling with her friends.

“The people were nice and fun. Nam brought stilts, and then another time he brought a unicycle. The different things he kept bringing, kept bringing us back,” Thomas said.

As of now, the unofficial Circus Club is yet to be officially recognized by the Student Government Association. Tran said this is good because she’s unsure if she can handle the responsibility of an official club status. The club is not currently seeking official status.

After the meetings, members often stay to use the Recreation Center’s work out facilities. Members often cheer for and help motivate each other to obtain their fitness goals.

This club meets twice a week in studio A or B in the Recreation Center. Start times vary between 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. For the most up to date information, visit the club’s Instagram @niucircusclub.