FSU Flying High Circus

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Coordinates: 30°26′25.4″N 84°18′09.05″W / 30.440389°N 84.3025139°W / 30.440389; -84.3025139

The Flying High Circus Big Top, Jack Haskin Circus Complex, Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida State University "Flying High" Circus is an extra-curricular activity under FSU's Division of Student Affairs. Located in Tallahassee, Florida, it is one of two such collegiate circuses in the United States along with Illinois State University's Gamma Phi Circus. All members of the FSU Circus are required to be a degree-seeking student registered at Florida State University.[1]

The FSU Circus is primarily a three-ring aerial and stage presentation. "Flying High" has no animal acts. Student performers rig all of their own equipment, set up the circus's tent, sew costumes, produce lights and sound for performances.


The Flying High Circus was founded in 1947 by Jack Haskin. An extracurricular activity under the Division of Student Affairs at Florida State University, as well as the Oglesby Student Union. The program was created to integrate men and women at the newly co-ed institution.[2]

The Florida State University Circus has been seen on "CBS Sports Spectacular," "ABC's Wide World of Sports," "On the Road" with Charles Kuralt, NBC's "Real People," "PM Magazine," and ESPN. Individuals have been featured on "To Tell the Truth," "The Original Amateur Hour," and "I've Got a Secret." In 1964 CBS took the Circus on a European tour. The FSU Circus has visited Canada, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. It was recently featured in an hour-long special on the CSTV cable channel.


Through the School of Sports Management, Physical Education and Recreation a one-semester, one credit hour "Circus Skills" course teaches students the basics of juggling, hand balancing, aerial ballet, several other aerial acts, and equipment rigging. Enrollment is encouraged but not mandatory for participation in the circus. The majority of the student performers continue to pursue a career in the discipline from which they graduate. Only a small percentage of the performers seek a professional circus career.

Performances and Touring[edit]

The FSU Circus generates its own revenue by performing for various sponsors throughout the southeastern United States, and hosting weekend shows each spring at the Jack Haskin Circus Complex on the FSU campus. These shows, known as "Homeshows," are traditionally performed the first weekends of April, and are free for Florida State University Students to attend. Florida State University's Parents Weekend is another performance opportunity for the students on summer staff with the Flying High Circus. In recent years, the Flying High Circus introduced the Halloween Show, in which the students perform their traditional acts, but with a Halloween theme. Traveling road shows are not unheard of for this circus, every year there are several road show opportunities in which a few selected acts get to perform for banquets, weddings, and other gatherings.

Additionally, the circus conducts a summer recreation program at Callaway Gardens Resort. Here, around twenty-five dedicated students from the Flying High Circus live and work at the gardens, working as performers and camp counselors for the Gardens' Summer Family Adventure for twelve weeks. The students perform multiple times a week, and work with the campers from ages 7-18, as well as running a Circus Recreation Program, and the Ropes Course for the Adults and Teens staying at the resort.

Beginning in the summer of 2009, the Flying High Circus introduced a summer circus camp held at the Florida State University. Over the course of the summer, campers get to learn and try out different circus acts such as Spanish webs, cloud swing, juggling, and the flying trapeze.

Flying High Circus Directors[edit]

  • Jack Haskin (1947 - 1960)
  • Addison Gilbert (1960 - 1964)
  • Adrian Catarzi (1965 - 1972)
  • Richard "Dickie" Brinson (1972 - 2007)
  • Chad Mathews (2007 - present)

List of Acts[edit]

Specific acts vary from season to season, but the FSU Circus typically incorporates the following into their shows:


  1. ^ News Release, FSU Circus General Information, http://circus.fsu.edu/press_releases/pdf/FSU_Circus_general_info_sheet.pdf Archived 2010-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ About the FSU Flying High Circus, http://circus.fsu.edu/About-Us

External links[edit]