There is something seductive about the fantasy of leaving it all behind and joining the circus. For three Hampton Roads locals, the circus was only as far as the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
Old Dominion alumni Jon Norton and Casey Croson teamed up with TCC alumna, Jeanne Sgroi in 2012 to create the fire performing troupe “The Seven City Spinners.” Norton and Casey have been clowns and stilt-walkers at the Oceanfront, but felt they were not getting booked often enough.When their manager suggested they form a fire-troupe with the talented hula-hoop performer, Sgroi, the rest was history. Croson decided that “it looked awesome,” and said he could imagine himself as a video game character.According to the performers, the learning process was filled with danger and mistakes butit wasn’t long before the pyromaniacs became addicted.Croson said, “a vast majority of practices were spent without fire” and that they always had a person waiting with a fire-extinguisher. “But you can only do as much as you can and accept the risks,” he said. “Getting smacked in the face and singeing hair just came with the territory.”Why would anyone want to learn such a dangerous art? There is just something about being on stage that inspires them, the group said; the energy rush of performing is something they thrive on.“My favo
rite thing about performing is the rush of knowing the crowd is watching me and loving what I do. The feedback from the audience energizes me,” said Sgroi.“It’s great to know that so many people can’t stop looking at what I’m doing, and they feel the need to give me money for what they saw. Instead of going to a movie and paying up front not knowing what you’re going to get, this is them paying because they loved what they got,” Norton added.The Seven City Spinners is comprised of Croson using fire poi and a meteor-hammer, Sgroi performing with fire fans or fire hoops, and Norton seems to be trying to master all fire arts; poi, fire staff, juggling clubs and fire breathing are just a few things on his pyro list.
The troupe has been hired at Superbeach Street USA Sandbridge, a wedding in West Virginia, Norfolk public libraries and the Haunted Trail in Richmond as zombie stilt-walkers. It is not surprising in an area known for tourism that they have found popularity. People flock to Hampton Roads for an escape from monotony and nothing is more magical that a group that risks injury to entertain.When questioned if they would be pursuing what some only dream about, which is joining the circus, the answer was fairly immediate, “without question, yes. I would love to be around creativity every day,” Norton exclaimed.For these three young adults, dreaming just wasn’t enough. They weren’t satisfied until their talent was on fire and displayed for all.
By: Erika Schaubach