Milton High School grad Spencer Maxwell starts Cirque company in Alpharetta

Will train residents in acrobatic skills

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – When Milton High School graduate Spencer Maxwell finished school, he expected to attend Florida State University and get a business marketing degree. Now, a year into his studies, he is opening a new business in Alpharetta that is dedicated to the class he loved the most.

Called “Cirque Freaks,” Maxwell and partner Jen MacQueen will open what can best be described as a Cirque-themed dance studio this summer.

Maxwell performed in several of Milton High’s Cirque performances and said he instantly took to the style. He graduated high school and went to Florida State, but found he still wanted to do something with Cirque.

“I realized I wanted to do Cirque the rest of my life,” he said. “It becomes a part of you, but how do we make money off this?”

The answer was to open a Cirque-themed studio, where students can learn Cirque performances just like students at any other dance studio. Weeklong camps and workshops can train beginners and professionals in several of the Cirque apparatuses – aerial silks, Spanish web, Chinese pole, aerial straps, the barge, rings, static trapeze and the Cyr wheel.

So Maxwell teamed up with Jen MacQueen.

MacQueen, a professional dancer and choreographer, came to Milton High to help with the Cirque program and has always dreamed of having her own dance company.

“I’ve always been a dancer,” she said. “I used to be an elite level gymnast. Going upside down was normal.”

An injury interrupted her dancing career, but when she came to Milton High School, she said she fell in love with Cirque.

“I fell in love with being upside down again,” she said. “Cirque is becoming so popular now in dance. More and more performing arts companies are doing it and it’s starting to permeate everywhere.”

The two have bought a space off Ga. 9 in Alpharetta-Forsyth County and are transforming it into a training space. They expect to have eight employees during the summer, a number that could expand to about 15 in the fall. All the employees would be teachers.

“There’s a feeling of play you get to revisit as an adult,” MacQueen said. “People would be nicer if they get to play more. Hanging from the monkey bars, you get a sense of freedom. It’s just fun.”

Summer camps would be open to students ages 6-12, with evening workshops for students ages 13 and up.

For more about Cirque Freaks, visit them online at www.cirquefreaks.com.

This article was published in the Revue & News April 25, 2013 edition