As millions of Americans retreat into seclusion under the COVID-19 closures, aerial artists Jeremy and Harmony Chute are sequestered in their own private circus. Each day, their backyard becomes an impromptu aerial act, with circus performers from around the country.
The couple lead a flying trapeze troupe for a Japanese circus, and run a school, Trapeze High, from their Escondido property. It’s a unique life under normal circumstances, but amid the current crisis, it has become even more extraordinary. The school and circus have been closed since authorities issued stay-at-home orders to prevent transmission of COVID-19. But the family has opened their North County home to circus friends who have lost work during the recent closures, welcoming guests who bring their RVs, pets and dazzling aerial abilities.
“I really enjoy trapeze in general,” said Jeremy, 41. “We couldn’t be more fortunate to have the high level caliber of talent we have on the property now. So it’s like our own little flying trapeze show every day.”
The couple’s daughters Cami, 10 and Tatum, 8, and son Cade, 16, alternate home school assignments with trapeze practice each day. The girls are also self-appointed social directors of the group, planning activities such as art contests and gift exchanges for their guests.
On Tuesday afternoon, the aerial artists gathered as usual to train on the trapeze rigging in the Chutes’ backyard, sporting workout clothes and tautly muscled arms and shoulders. A pair of trapezes hung 22 feet high over a rope net. A ladder ascended 20 feet to 25 feet to a narrow platform where the performers waited their turn. In each round, a “flyer” leaped from the first trapeze into the arms of the “catcher,” hanging upside down from the opposite bar.
Occasionally the flyers fell short, bouncing safely into the net below. On other attempts they made the catch, executing somersaults and even triples before clasping hands, to the applause of colleagues on the ground.
The performers count themselves lucky to be there. As independent contractors for traveling circuses, they live on intermittent income, and don’t generally qualify for unemployment when they’re out of work. With the circuses closed due to the pandemic, they’re now looking at months without jobs. Having a place to stay during the closures helps them to face life in the time of coronavirus. Perhaps most importantly, it assures their ability to keep training for the rigorous routines they will return to once business resumes…
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