The Gym Dandies at practice. Maxen Ryder

The Gym Dandies, an after-school children’s circus arts program, is hosting a community performance on March 12 to fundraise and showcase the students’ skills.

“This is a spectacular program. The kids are learning way more than circus arts here. They are learning how to be resilient and how to fail and turn failure into progress,” said David Sloatman, director of the program. “The skills they learn doing circus acts are translatable into everything in life. That said, what they do is amazing.”

The Gym Dandies have been an extracurricular program for grades 3-12 in Scarborough for decades. The Dandies often perform in parades and local performances. This April, the Dandies will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Cherry Blossom Parade.

The program provides a community outlet for a wide age-range of Scarborough’s students.

“I’ve been in Gym Dandies for about 10 years now, so feels like most of my life,” said Sam Benson, a senior in the program. “The group is really great. I kind of came into it shy, but really we’re all just a big family and we all work together to do these big routines and make other people happy, but really we’re all just good friends and everything.”

The Gym Dandies were started in 1981 by Jon Cahill. For some students, being Gym Dandy has become a community legacy due to the group’s long history. “Gym Dandies has been really fun for me and I think everybody should do it and it helps you learn a lot,” said Grace Swinburne, a sixth-grader in the group. “It helps with your teamwork skills, it really helps with your problem solving, too, and my dad was one of the original Gym Dandies, so he helps me a lot with it. Gym Dandies is cool.”


“I’ve done Gym Dandies for four years now, since third grade, and my dad was also a Gym Dandy as a kid,” said sixth-grader Lilly Kloda.

The program brings together students of all ages who otherwise may not interact. “Gym Dandies is amazing, I’ve been doing Gym Dandies since I was in fifth grade, and now I’m gonna graduate,” said Reed Shaw, a senior. “I love Gym Dandies because it’s a great way to interact with kids through all ages. It has third through 12th grade and you don’t really get to hang out with kids younger than you on the same level anywhere else.”

The Dandies use a wide range of equipment, such as unicycles, juggling supplies, diabolos, stilts, spinning plates, and more.

“I really love Gym Dandies because it gives students of any age a lot of leadership opportunities,” said senior Claire Shaw. “It gives them a lot of responsibilities and opportunities to be role models for other kids. I think that the skills we learn here teach us not just juggling and unicycling, but being, you know, sharing, and being fun and silly, and it’s a club that is unique in that way, because we do not have a lot of silly clubs.”

The Gym Dandies 42nd annual community performance is this March. The first show took place March 3, with upcoming performances on Sunday, March 12, at Wentworth Gym at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The funds raised will support the program.

“These guys have worked really hard, it’s all about hard work, but it’s a blast,” Sloatman said. “They have a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of fun just being around them.”

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