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Elmont library brings the circus to town

Performer Lou Beekhuizen shows several volunteers how to

Performer Lou Beekhuizen shows several volunteers how to balance spinning plates during her show at the Elmont Memorial Library Theater. (June 27, 2012) Credit: Michael Cusanelli

Lou Beekhuizen wants to make you laugh, even if she looks silly while doing it.

As she ran around the crowded Elmont Memorial Library Theater on Wednesday, children jumped out of their seats and waved their hands wildly, hoping to be chosen as Beekhuizen’s next assistant onstage.

More than 300 parents and their children packed into the theater to watch Beekhuizen perform and to learn basic performance tricks.

“One of our main goals is that we give kids success in whatever they do,” said Beekhuizen. “We want to show everyone [to] have fun with what you do. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

The 28-year-old South London native’s performance was the kickoff to the library’s summer reading program. A former circus performer, Beekhuizen now works for the National Circus Project, an organization that seeks to teach children performance skills and to encourage schools to create arts education programs.

Dressed in a red clown nose, glittering vest and sparkling red cap, Beekhuizen’s character Little Lou has been entertaining audiences in both England and the United States since 2005.

Throughout her show, Beekhuizen called children and adults onto the stage to perform tricks with her, including balancing spinning plates, catching rings with their bodies and balancing off each other.

“It gives them something to do,” said Racquelle Coeur, 30, who brought her three children to see the show. “They can get up, they can participate. It’s something out of the ordinary.”

The Elmont Memorial Library holds various performances and events regularly in order to promote literacy from an early age. Aside from their summer reading program for kids, the library also holds fitness classes, movie nights, tutoring programs and art shows.

“Libraries are not just about books anymore,” said Kathy Guidal, the children’s services department head. “It’s like a community entertainment center.”

This is the second summer that Beekhuizen and the National Circus Project have performed at the Elmont Memorial Library Theater.

But for Beekhuizen, Wednesday’s show meant just a little more giving her audience a quick laugh.

“There’s so much that happens in life that brings us so much sadness and stress,” said Beekhuizen. “For an hour or 50 minutes my job is to let everyone .?.?. forget everything else that’s happening.”

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