Big top dreams

Think only kids dream of joining the circus?

Meet Alice Dustin, 68, of Ardmore. You can’t miss her, she’ll be the one swinging from the flying trapeze at the Philadelphia School for Circus Arts in Germantown.

When you do meet her, dust off your perception that impulsivity dwindles with age and get ready to chuck it out the window.

Alice has a Master’s of Arts from Harvard and a Ph.D from UPenn, and when she felt she was getting terribly old at age 50 she took up juggling for the first time. Six years later she decided to start painting professionally. Now she has several awards.

But she was just warming up.

Then she found the circus arts school and took up something newer still. Easy stuff like aerial tissue, rope and trapeze.

Mind you, Alice wasn’t one of those girls who did dance or gymnastics since she was four – the whole body performance scene was entirely new to her.

But after a couple years at the circus school it couldn’t be working better for Alice. And since the place put up it’s big top in 2008, lots of others are discovering the same thing.

Alice is part of a growing crowd of circus converts that come to the facility from all over the Northwest and the region. Adults have started taking classes to substitute for gym memberships and kids have been coming in droves for summer camps and youth programs that really know how to put that extra energy to use.

Alice only swings from the ceiling three times per week nowadays. The other days she spends getting ready for the next big milestone.

No, not the big 7-0; Chinese acrobatics.

To learn more about Alice Dustin visit her Web site, or catch her art show at Rosemont College through Dec. 5. Call: 610-527-0200. For more on the Philadelphia School for Circus Arts, 5900A Greene Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144, visit its Web site or call 215-849-1991.

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