The Starfish

What We Do

Circus and performing arts hold unparalleled potential to excite, inspire and challenge students to discover their own endless possibilities.

Starfish Circus offers students the opportunity for active participation in a theatrical event that fits into their available time and their school's space and arts budget.

In just ten to fourteen days at your school, our coaches cast and rehearse up to 50 students, training them in aerial skills, partner acrobatics, clowning, juggling and showmanship as well as proper stretching and conditioning, with a focus on safety and achievement.

Working in duos, trios and groups, the student performers prepare and present a 60-minute circus show for their family, friends and community.

The Starfish approach is full inclusion. All ages and abilities are cast and work together.In the process, they learn to set and achieve personal goals, conquer their apprehensions and shine as part of a team.

Starting with simple yet impressive stunts, shy or apprehensive performers gain confidence and experiment with fearlessness. Older students learn leadership skills by working with younger children. The more adept help ready and refine other performers' routines, and the individualists discover that only the group can build a pyramid.

Ten days.
Three coaches.
Fifty performers.
Two shows.
...One starfish at a time.


Our Achievements

10,000+ Kids

In workshops, choreography for shows with physical skills, and full Starfish productions, we've worked with thousands of students across the USA. Every child leaves their mark on us and on the world.

500+ Acts

Starfish is about teamwork & fun. Each act is a mix of ages and abilities, with a focus on simple tricks in unison. Students create their own choreography and themes. Every student gets their moment to shine.

14 Years

Every school is special and every show is different. Students, teachers, parents, and the visiting coaches come together for a once-in-a-lifetime event, and leave with new friends and new problem-solving skills.

One Starfish at a Time

There's no universal metric. With a low student-to-coach ratio and lots of individual attention, our focus is on each participant's personal growth in ability and confidence.

The Starfish

Why We Do It

The tide goes out, leaving thousands of starfish stranded on the beach. A little boy walks down the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean. A man approaches and says, " Why bother? You'll never get them all. It won't matter." The little boy picks up a starfish, flings it into the water and says, "It matters to that starfish."

At a gathering of circus performers in 2003, a politically-charged actor challenged everyone to say how they created positive change in the world. We said we taught occasional workshops in schools. "Well, what does that do?" asked the challenger. "Maybe you teach them a cartwheel or something, but it doesn't make a real difference."

First we got irritated. Then we started thinking. Does it make a difference to a child to learn a simple skill, maybe even one that 'everyone else' already knows? We say it does. We say, that cartwheel is a gateway to a whole world of things people think they can't do. The kid on the bottom of the pyramid is learning that they're strong enough to support the group--and the kid at the top is learning that she wouldn't be up there without that same group's support.

From a half-serious vow later that night to "Change the world, one cartwheel at a time!", the idea for Starfish Circus grew. Drawing on our previous experience teaching workshops

in mask and movement theatre, acting, gymnastics and dance, we created a program that any child can participate in and any school can afford. In a world where success means never stopping, and theatre is a luxury for the select few, a Starfish Circus experience brings many things to a community. Participants are given an empowering vision of the possibilities of theatre. Audiences enjoy a spectacular and delightful show. The rare pupil with the interest and talent for an acrobatic or aerial career is encouraged and challenged. And over all, the performers develop skills for a healthy lifestyle, including goal-setting, group and solo work, and physical fitness.

We were challenged by a question in Edward Fiske's "Champion's of Change" about youth programs: "What is this place about?" Well, Ed, we're about facing fears and experiencing new things in a safe environment, creating a meaningful performance together, supporting our teammates throughout, exploring an arena of theatre and the arts many students may not have considered before, and encouraging each individual student to appreciate their bodies, abilities, and achievements.

It's a big dream. It's a bit egotistical to undertake it. But we're ready to create big things on a very small scale, and we know you want to do that, too. Let's do it together-

One starfish at a time.

Our Ethos

Above all, Starfish is committed to reaching the students and schools who need and want to be part of Starfish Circus.


...helping kids develop skills for healthy, active and enthusiastic lives through circus & performing arts.


Students cross social boundaries and face their fears in an environment of support, encouragement and teamwork.


Respect, inclusivity, kindess and hard work.


A show students are proud to be in. Increased personal confidence, collaboration skills, and faith in their own creativity. And parents who walk out saying "Wow. That was a real show!"

What It Costs

Our two pricing plans allow schools to choose up-front costs or delayed payment based on ticket sales.


Our average residency fee is $3500-5000, depending on number of coaches and number of days.

More coaches means more student participation, and more days means greater skill achievement.

A deposit of $1000 is needed to reserve your dates.

Most schools cover the cost through a combination of grants/budgeted money and ticket sales to the final shows. Some schools show a profit on ticket sales. Typically, four to six tickets are sold per student in the show.

For travel of more than two days' drive from Michigan, an additional travel fee may be charged.


Each year, we choose three schools with severe budget challenges or located in disadvantaged communities. For these schools, we ask only that our actual travel costs be guaranteed, and that the school work as our partner to publicize the show. Instead of an up-front payment, the Starfish Staff remit 10% of the ticket sales from the final performances to the host school, keeping the balance as our fee.

If you would like to be considered for this option, please contact us with a brief explanation of your school and community's budget situation and how you feel we can work together to bring Starfish Circus to you.

Starfish Circus is also committed to working with your local merchants to arrange sponsorships of the program in your school.


Questions? Want to bring a Starfish to your school? Need help selling the program's safety and value to your administration? We'd love to talk.

Starfish Circus is based
in Kalamazoo, Michigan
and travels everywhere.