Sean Emery, Arts
The culture of circus arts
Venues: Arts & Educational Programming
A true original, Sean Emery was born in Derry, North Ireland, the son of an Irish mother and South Carolina-born father who met and wed while Sean’s father was stationed at the Londonderry Naval Submarine Base. The Emery family made their home all over the world, with a three-year stint in Athens being its longest stay. Understandably, young Sean developed a gypsy spirit.
After his father’s retirement from the Navy, when Sean was in fourth grade, the family took root in Charlotte, North Carolina. In high school he excelled in football as a linebacker and team co-captain, earning the “Most Valuable Player” award in the ninth grade and Honorable Mention as a linebacker on the All County Team as a senior in high school. Unlike his peers who dreamed of getting a college football scholarship or going pro, Sean used the confidence and determination he got from football to fulfill his dream of joining the circus.
Despite pursuit of a commercial art major in college, Sean knew that his career would take a different direction. He liked acting, but it was a role as the street performer in Pygmalion that led to clowning and juggling as a vocation. In 1979, he left his academic studies for Clown College with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Baileys Circus. It was the right move; he became one of the few accepted to join Ringling Bros. after Clown College graduation, and was a clown on the Red Unit for three years. The time spent performing in arenas with seasoned professionals and traveling the country by circus train set the tone for his current life and career.
He met his wife Meg – also with Ringling Brothers – in 1980. The showgirl/aerialist and juggler/clown have been married for twenty years, and are proud that daughter Aerial is following in their footsteps with her hula-hoop act.
After the circus Sean left his clown make-up behind, moving to New York City to work as a street performer and honing his skills as an all-around performer. Interesting work followed, including the MTV Awards at Radio City Music Hall, corporate gigs, theaters, and cabarets. Frequent performances on major cruise lines afforded him the opportunity to travel to over twenty-five countries. He entertained in Japan three times and once at the White House. In the past, Sean has worked with acts such as the Temptations, Jerry Lewis, and Hanson, and has also appeared in television commercials. He landed a guest bit on the popular soap opera Search for Tomorrow.
Currently Sean presents his act at corporate events and state fairs, using the occasional theater show to round out his tour schedule. Along with his wife Meg, he teaches circus arts for the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program and the Theater Arts Department. He also teaches at Meg’s “Xelias Aerial Arts Studio.”
Sean takes pleasure in picking and singing bluegrass with his mandolin, backpacking for days and having campfires with his family. He also enjoys painting in his studio and working on the family home.
“We had 750 participants plus presenters — it was a great day! Sean gave an awesome presentation for the keynote. Everyone enjoyed him and the adults (especially) appreciated his comments about finding your passion, different types of art, need to practice, etc. The students that participated in his small group classes were thrilled also. He was very easy to work with, very personable and enthusiastic!”
–SW/SC Service Cooperative
“Everybody LOVED Sean! He had amazing attendance as well, since many of the libraries tied this presentation into their summer reading program!”
–Lake Agassiz Regional Library System
“He was wonderful. He sent the nicest thank you note! He was very, very personable and a perfect fit for our crowd! Everyone absolutely loved him. He was so nice. He stuck around for a while afterwards and was able to socialize with people and everyone really loved getting the chance to talk to him. You can use me as a reference anytime.”
–Albertville Lioness Club
The following is a sample introduction you might use when introducing Sean Emery to your audience:
“Sean Emery has appeared at the White House, on MTV, and around the world on cruise ships and with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He has performed for the past fifteen years at the Minnesota State Fair and performs over one hundred corporate events each year.
Let’s get ready for showtime….please welcome…Sean Emery!”
The technical needs for this artist vary depending on the type of show and presentation space. Specific details can be discussed when contracting artist.
Sean Emery is more than just a funny guy jugglin’ stuff. He is a professionally-trained juggler and clown, having started his career with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and is now one of the most in-demand entertainers for fairs & festivals throughout the country. Sean’s performances have taken him around the world in venues as diverse as Radio City Music Hall, theaters, cabarets, and even the White House. He’s a master of juggling and physical comedy; he’s witty and charming.
Sean Emery serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota each Spring and he and his wife, Meg, operate the Xelias! Aerial Arts Studio in Minneapolis, MN. Xelias! Aerial Arts Studio recognizes each individual’s raw talent and uses it as a base to build confidence, courage and strength through circus training. Through the teaching and performing of circus arts, Sean and Meg help students develop the life skills of teamwork, discipline, perseverance and artistic athleticism. In doing so, they nurture their students and keep the integrity and appreciation for the circus arts alive into future generations.
- Introduction to Antic Arts: Sean offers a program that discusses the journey of discovering his passion – where for the first time in his life, he knew exactly the one thing he wanted to do. This passion for learning the skills to become a performing artist carried forward into the classroom – improving his focus and grades in school and many positive options in everyday life. Through performing and teaching juggling and other circus arts, this program combines a great introduction to ‘Antic Arts’ in a way that will challenge audiences to also think about their character and passion in life. Sean now understands, and lives, the advice he heard while training to be a professional entertainer “…always be on your way to the star.” Audience: All Ages