Founded in 1947 by Jack Haskin, the Florida State University "Flying High" Circus is an extra-curricular activity under the Division of Student Affairs. This program was created to integrate men and women when FSU became a co-ed institution and is still an activity for male and female students to participate in jointly. The only requirement to be a member of the FSU Circus is that one must be a degree-seeking student registered at Florida State University.
Rivaling any professional circus, the FSU Circus is primarily an aerial and stage presentation with three rings of spellbinding entertainment for everyone. Unlike professional circuses, "Flying High" has no animal acts. Student performers rig all of their own equipment, sew their own costumes, produce lights and sound for performances, and set up the Big Top tent on campus.
A one-semester, one credit hour Introduction to Circus course is offered to students which includes the basics of juggling, walking the high wire, aerial ballet, and rigging to introduce the Circus through the School of Sports Management, Physical Education and Recreation. Enrollment is encouraged but not mandatory. There are many "walk-ons" with only an interest in becoming involved, who have not taken the Introduction to Circus course. 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. With 18-22 circus acts taught on the ground or in the air, there is a place for everyone.
The Florida State University Circus generates its own revenue by hosting home shows each April on the FSU campus under its own Big Top circus tent; by directing a summer recreation program at Callaway Gardens, a resort in Georgia and a Flying High Circus Camp for children ages 7-17 on the FSU campus; and by performing for various sponsors throughout the southeastern United States.
The Florida State University Circus is widely recognized. Throughout its 60 year history, the FSU Flying High Circus has appeared in Europe, Canada, the Bahamas, and the West Indies. It was selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events for 1989, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Most recently it has been the subject of a CSTV documentary Flying High: the Florida State University Circus. A City of Tallahassee proclamation stated: "Each year the Flying High Circus produces a championship show." The State of Florida presented a concurrent resolution in 1973 to "...commend the FSU Circus for their achievement in captivating audiences the world over."
In late 1981, Jerry Collins (long time circus owner), donated the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus to Florida State University citing the University's long circus tradition and the "Flying High" Circus as "the best in the world." His reason for the gift was "to benefit people of all ages, to preserve the circus for the children and to help the students at FSU."
We invite you to catch a GOLDEN tradition at Florida State University:
THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY “FLYING HIGH” CIRCUS.