SARASOTA - Our Amazing Suncoast Woman this week is Karen Bell, the program Director for Circus Sarasota.
She heads up the Big Top Education Program, along with her partner Robin Urich, and goes into local elementary and middle schools and teaches physics, language arts and theatre classes, using circus props to demonstrate the lessons.
She also heads up Circus Sarasota's Laughter Unlimited Program, which sends clowns into Sarasota Memorial Hospital, The United Cerebral Palsy Center, and nursing homes. A program that has the clowns working with Alzheimer's patients is proving very successful.
Karen grew up in Colorado and never thought of Clowning. She went to Medical School, decided that wasn't for her, went back and got a Fine Arts Degree, became a Professional Dancer, then took a few circus arts classes.
She auditioned for a spot in the Ringling Brothers Clown College in Venice and was thrilled to be accepted. She graduated in 1985 , went on to perform in Ringling Shows, and then returned to teach Clowning in Clown College. She did a solo clown show for many years until recruited to come back to the Suncoast and Join Circus Sarasota. Over the weekend, she headed up the Clown College Reunion here in Sarasota.