Meet Amy Cohen at Circus Culture
Whether you are an Ithaca adult, child, or child at heart – if you are interested and inspired by the welcoming community of the circus and the expanded possibilities of human potential, then you need to visit Circus Culture in Press Bay Alley. As you step in and see the talented patrons doing aerial fabric, trapeze, or tight wire, just to name a few, you see the smiling face of the owner behind this magic, Amy Cohen.
Amy is originally from Hudson Valley, but came to attend Ithaca College and never looked back. Once she graduated Ithaca College, Amy got her Masters in “circus as a tool for social change, education, and creative expression” from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and was a Fulbright Scholar in the UK researching contemporary circus culture and education in London. Amy has spoken on panels about circus arts and education all around the world. She is the founder of Ithaca College’s circus arts club, ICircus, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and in 2008 she was named one of the top 40 leaders under 40 years old Tompkins County.
Amy decided to start this venture because she believed in the power of the circus and the circus community. “I believe circus can change the world. Ithaca is a community that says YES and is the perfect location for a circus school that celebrates dedicated play, creative physicality, and inclusive community,” says Amy.
She knows that she has a special business, but there are a few things that make it truly special. She starts explaining this with the history of the circus, “Historically, the circus has been a place where anyone and everyone is welcome and the possibilities of human potential are expanded. It comes to town and becomes the central gathering place, a community hub, and a source of inspiration. Circus is a gathering of the others.”
Amy continues on by talking about the people that are drawn to circus culture, which creates the unique community. “As a hybrid of art and sport, circus is comprised of a myriad of disciplines, from juggling to trapeze, partner acrobatics to tightwire. As a result, it not only includes people of varied skills and abilities, but actually requires this diversity to be whole. When practicing circus arts, trust, coordination, and communication skills are experientially developed and risk taking curiosities are played out in a safe and controlled environment. The non-competitive yet physical nature of the form makes it a unique and beneficial outlet for all ages.”
Located right in the middle of Downtown Ithaca at Press Bay Alley, Circus Culture provides classes, workshops, and summer camps that cover aerial fabric, trapeze, juggling, tight wire, acrobatics, hooping, props, and more. Amy loves going to Circus Culture everyday because she is “surrounded by a brave, creative, and engaged community.” Amy also enjoys her downtown location because it is walkable, on the Tcat bus line, and near so many inspiring businesses and business owners.
She certainly lives and breathes circus – in addition to running Circus Culture, Amy is the Executive Director of the American Youth Circus Organization which promotes the participation of youth in circus arts and supports circus educators. She admittedly doesn’t have much downtime, but when she does she spends it reading and knitting – which you might find her doing while upside down or stretching.
Amy is notorious for her expertise on the circus, her contagious smile, and the positive energy that embodies Circus Culture. Whether you are looking to try something new, see something inspiring, or take your juggling or trapeze skills to the next level, definitely pay her a visit soon.
To learn more about Amy Cohen and Circus Culture, visit the space at 116 West Green Street in Press Bay Alley and follow them on Instagram @circusculture. Make sure to sign up for spring break and summer camps as registration is now open!