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A troupe of Minnesota kids just got one of the biggest circus awards

Circus Juventas becomes the first American group to win the award.

Minnesota is home to one of the best circus schools in the world – and now St. Paul's Circus Juventas is getting some hardware that helps prove it.

They're the new winners of the Circopedia Award for Excellence in the Circus Arts, Circus Juventas announced Monday.

The award comes after 10 days of performances  at this summer's Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. put the performers – all of them 21 or younger – on a big stage. The Smithsonian made circus arts the theme of this year's festival and the Minnesota group performed under a big top for audiences from around the world.

The award

Circopedia is an online archive of the circus arts founded by Dominique Jando, a Frenchman who's been in the industry for more than 40 years.

The Circopedia Award started a couple of years ago, with the first two going to Russian performers. In announcing their win, Jando said he hopes the recognition for Circus Juventas will encourage other youth circus groups in the U.S. to follow its example.

Jando tells the Pioneer Press: “I don’t know of any other youth circus in the world that has reached their artistic level in terms of quality of skills and the circus acts.”

Circus Juventas co-founders Betty Butler and Dan Butler said in Monday's statement they're "overwhelmed and honored" by the award.

New Circus Juventas show opens soon

In Washington Circus Juventas performed their show from the summer of 2016, Wonderland, which was based on the Alice in Wonderland stories.

But their 2017 summer show is about to open next week. This one is called NORÐRSAGA, and it's built around the nine realms of Norse mythology.

Shows are from July 28 through August 13 at the Circus Juventas Big Top in St. Paul's Highland Park. You can get tickets here. Dominique Jando will be in town to present the Circopedia Award before the August 3 performance.

Circus Juventas started in 1994 and is now North America's biggest youth circus school, training 2,500 students a year. They say their summer shows feature their most advanced performers.

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