The Flow Circus is coming to town again and bringing its one-man variety show to the James V. Brown Library.
Paul Miller, executive director and main Flow Circus performer, will give a free show at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Lowry Room on the third floor of the library, 19 E. Fourth St.
Miller has traveled all around the world perfecting his juggling skills, mystifying magic and comic timing. After graduating in 1994 with a degree in accounting, Miller decided to juggle balls instead of numbers.
A self-taught juggler and performance artist, Paul founded Flow Circus in 1999 with a mission to promote active learning and play through the juggling arts. Since then he has taught the juggling arts through camps, libraries, after-school programs and professional conferences.
Through performances and hands-on workshops, Flow Circus engages audiences of all ages in experiences of play that captivate, energize and inspire. Miller said he realized that teaching juggling to children was having a big impact because it was focusing on skills learning.
"There are lots of ways to entertain kids," Miller said. "But everyone likes to play, so this is one way I've found to have the most impact and greater value."
Miller said it's hard to have a bad day at work when your job is to juggle and make people laugh.
"This is year-round work," he said. "I do about 125 performances in 10 weeks during the summer and then I travel up and down the East Coast and do another 100 programs throughout the year."
Miller said his comedy is all clean-cut and relies heavily on improv and interacting with the audience. He tailors his message to the theme of the library's program - such as the summer reading program "Dig Into Reading" - and relates how he taught himself how to juggle.
"I started out in high school, learning out of a book," Miller said. "It was transformational. I wasn't a reader before then, but I realized then that I could learn to do other things from books."
Miller said the juggling book was his "gateway" book to other books and from there he learned about vaudeville, the circus, performance art and more - all of which started him on his journey.
"My message is authentic," Miller said. "I tell the kids that I hope you explore what you're interested in and I tell the story about how my uncle encouraged me to dig deeper into what I enjoyed."
His experiences have helped him create Skoyz, a skills-based social network for teens and tweens at www.skoyz.com. He is launching a Kickstarter campaign in October with plans to release Skoys to the work in spring 2014.
"There are not a lot of opportunities for tweens and teens to marry their online identity to engage them in the real world," Miller said. "This is a platform that allows you to discover skills you might not know about, watch videos to learn how to do those skills and then share the knowledge you have with others."
Miller said the premise of Skoyz is to "learn, log and share." "How can you learn about pen spinning, juggling and yo-yo tricks if you didn't know those existed?"
Miller said the ultimate goal is to design a program that can function as a way for libraries and afterschool programs to engage members and foster team building.
"If a kid can master a certain trick, they will go on to see what else they can master," he said. "This is a way to connect and engage the kids."
Nina Edgerton, youth services coordinator at the library, said she saw Flow Circus at the performer's showcase at the Pennsylvania Library Association Conference in the fall of 2011.
"He was such a delightful, energetic and engaging performer we decided to invite him to perform at the library last summer," Edgerton said. "We had such a positive response; we invited him back this year. Flow Circus will also be our guests that same night, for Teen Night hosting a Skill Toy Workshop. The laughter and the concentration amongst the teens last year was infectious."
Edgerton said that all the family programs are free, with the special programs held on Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer sponsored by the Adopt-A-Summer Reading campaign. She said there still is time to register for the summer reading program.
"Last year we had over 100 patrons attend the performance," Edgerton said. "We hope to entertain, engage and inspire more than 100 children this year."
The program is open to all members of the family age 3 1/2 and up, Edgerton added. "Together we are building a community of readers, one book at a time."
For more information, visit www.flowcircus.com.