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It Happens Here: Jamaica Plain's Commonwealth Circus Center Open To All

JAMAICA PLAIN (CBS) - It happens here in Jamaica Plain. J.P. is known as one of the first streetcar suburbs in America. It is home to Sam Adams Beer and at one time the Moxie soft drink factory. It's also one of the greenest neighborhoods in Boston, including much of the park system known as the Emerald Necklace.

Inside an old newspaper storage facility here, there's a new kind of school - The Commonwealth Circus Center.

Steven Minnihan, the Chief Financial and Facilities Officer at the school, said the neighborhood is the perfect spot for a circus school.

"Very welcoming community. Very inclusive community," he told WBZ-TV.

Professionals like Minnihan come here to practice their crazy skills. Inside you will find seasoned pros who go on tour and performers who make appearances at events across the area.

There are even classes for beginners to try something new.

The Commonwealth Circus Center
Kate Merrill and Chris McKinnon at The Commonwealth Circus Center. (WBZ-TV)

"We work to be very inclusive of all ages, backgrounds, ability levels," explained Minnihan. "It isn't just for the super naturally fit."

Kate Merrill and I were put through the test, learning how performers used the silk, rings and trapeze bars to put on a show.

The circus center is also a place where students from the area can get out of the traditional classroom and into a more creative space. It is great for self-expression, a physical workout and team-building exercises.

"We are closely partnered with three of the schools in the area where a couple times of week their classes walk over here during their school time," Minnihan said. "We get to present the fun or circus along with the learning and the social structure of a classroom setting."

The Commonwealth Circus Center
Kate Merrill and Chris McKinnon at The Commonwealth Circus Center. (WBZ-TV)

Beyond that, the Commonwealth Circus Center strives to be open and accessible to everyone. Even Minnihan is relatively new to circus training. He was actually a mechanical engineer for seven years before he quit his day job, went back to circus school and helped open the Commonwealth Circus Center.

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