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Cirque du Science

Sword-swallowing, trapeze-flying and tightrope-walking: Learn the secrets behind 'em all at the St. Louis Science Center


As everyone knows from the morning bombardment of technical-college commercials, getting a specialized degree is invaluable to employers. Not only does your training improve your special skill set, but it also proves you are truly devoted to your field and that you can set goals and keep them -- all very important employee assets. Maybe you've been putting off going back to school, or maybe you haven't had the courage yet to hit the books. Lucky for you, school is in session this summer in Forest Park. And we're not talking about the community college (although it's probably offering summer-school options as well); we're referring to the circus school opening at the St. Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or this Saturday, June 4.

OK, so the Circus! exhibition at the Science Center isn't a college per se, but if you pay a tuition of $4 to $5, you can find out the science behind sword-swallowing, learn how animals converse with one another, and train with the best circus performers: the fleas. Also, enrolling in the trapeze classes offered will be a great way to showcase your circus devotion: You can have a single swing on a trapeze for $17.25 (starting June 15) or take two-hour trapeze classes (starting June 16).

Of course, students know better than anyone that life is a balancing act, and at Circus! that concept is taken literally with the nine-feet-high tightrope that you can (try to) walk. Talk about courage and setting goals! Plus, you can flaunt your inner strength, or maybe just your strength, when you strive to bend an iron bar.

But if all this sounds like too much effort, live vicariously through the Cirque du Soleil circus masters. These talents show how far humans have come in the Omnimax presentation Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (pictured), beginning Friday, June 3 (check the Science Center's Web site for times). Pay $6 to $7 (or $9 to $10 for the movie-and-exhibit scholarship), and sit back as Cirque does all the work for you.

There's one catch though: You have to act now to experience this special college -- diplomas will be passed out on September 5 when the semester ends and the Circus! exhibit closes.

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