ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – When 13-year-old Ethan Ryan walks up the stairs to the third floor of the City Museum he attracts constant stairs and comments. Probably because he’s carrying his unicycle.
He’s a member of Circus Harmony, which practices and performs inside St. Louis’ most unique building/playground. But he’s only been on a unicycle for about 10 months.And now he’s learning from a seasoned veteran of the sport, Kim Anthony “Kip” Jones. He’s been on a unicycle, while playing basketball and jumping rope, since he was 15-years-old. He’s traveled the country with the legendary King Charles Troupe, an entertainment that began in the 1950s and is now called “Harlem Globetrotters on unicycles.”
Jones, a south Bronx, New York native, was in St. Louis for the weekend to help lead Circus Harmony practices at City Museum. The group of eight boys were taught basic ball-handling, layups and passing routines – with some King Charles flair. It’s all in preparation for their upcoming show Legato, to be presented at City Museum in January.
His goal isn’t just to teach unicycle basketball, but to show kids how great a distraction it can be from the “evils” of some people’s lives. When Jerry King, the patriarch of unicycle basketball in the U.S., began the King Charles Troupe he was “concerned with the social evils in his community” in the south Bronx.
His club eventually consisted of 100 kids, and used it as an opportunity to build character and prevent them from becoming at risk.
Jones is now carrying the torch.
“It’s a personal gratitude because my troupe has been able to perfect a skill. We’ve been able to go around the country with it, influence other young people and just from that influence alone we are able to talk to them, mentor them,” Jones says.
Circus Harmony practices are free to watch, with entrance to City Museum, and show schedule can be found at CircusHarmony.org.