CARLO PELLEGRINI (aka, Mr. Amazing) is AGC!’s co-founder and Artistic Director. Mr. Amazing performed for many years as White Clown, Acrobat and Ringmaster with Big Apple Circus, The Royal Lichtenstein Circus, Piccolo Circus NYC, was a professional dancer with internationally acclaimed Nikolais Dance Theater, and appeared in movies, TV and many radio commercials over the years. He brings over 40 years of professional circus, dance and theater experience to AGC! He has assembled a team of circus arts trainers and educators that is highly skilled in teaching the circus art form to children, teens and adults. His primary focus is fundraising, choreographing, producing shows for AGC! and sitting on the Board of Directors of American Youth Circus Organization. He advocates for circus arts education every chance he gets because he believes in its power to transform students into high-performing learners. Fun Fact: Carlo holds the unofficial world’s record for teaching the most number of people how to juggle three balls at one time (for Intel Corporation). See his full Bio here.
JANET HAYES, COTA/L, is co-founder and Program Director of AGC! Her work with children on the autism spectrum and children with different abilities at B.O.C.E.S. in Rockland County, NY, is an invaluable asset to AGC! She is responsible for the programs, health and well-being of the teens in AGC!’s Youth Circus Troupe, as well as strategic planning and growth of AGC!. Janet has worked with Carlo for over 18 years in youth development. See her recognition award here.
KAREN GERSCH – Began her professional circus career studying with Moscow Circus acrobat Nina Krasavina. A founding member of both Big Apple Circus and Vermont’s Circus Smirkus, she has toured with one-ring & three-ring circus shows throughout the U.S., Canada and France. In 1981, Karen founded ACROBRATS, Inc., a non-profit physical arts theatre company specializing in educational and family shows. For the past 15 years, Karen was Artistic Director/Ringmistress of “CIRCUSundays” – an acclaimed circus-variety series aboard the Waterfront Museum Showboat Barge, in Brooklyn, NY. Many AGC! teens have performed on ‘The Barge’. Karen has also choreographed many acro acts for AGC! since its founding in 2002. Karen is also an internationally recognized and collected artist and illustrator of circus subjects. See her full Bio here and her art website here.
HILARY SWEENEY - principal aerial and dance trainer for AGC! – has been a ballet dancer since the age of 5. Hilary attended her first Cirque du Soleil show 10 years ago and was so inspired by the high flying artists that she decided to learn to dance in the air. Shortly after, she traded her ballet shoes for a pair of wings and set out to train intensively with some of the top aerialists in the field including Elsie and Serenity Smith and Ivo Georgiev (Cirque du Soleil), Kevin O’Connor (National Circus School), Laura Witwer (Imaginaerial), Bobby Hedglin-Taylor (Streb), and Terry Beeman. Hilary performs at and books major talent for corporate and ‘life-event’ productions around the country with her company WowFactor TALENT. She is currently co-founder of Westchester Circus Arts Center at the Y Early Learning Center in Tarrytown, NY and has been a member of the AGC! staff since 2010. See her full Bio here.