As the young acrobats of the Sailor Circus Academy prepare for their annual holiday show, one longtime student is set to dazzle in what will be one of her final performances before she leaves the Circus Arts Conservatory program next summer.

Acrobat Summer Hill has been a part of the Sailor Circus Academy for eight years.

"I started about two years before that when my sister joined,” said Hill, “and I got to play around and try things out."

Today, we watched her rehearse her roman rings routine.

They look like the rings Olympic male gymnasts perform on to get the gold. However, Hill doesn’t get a spotter helping her pop up and grab each one of the rings.

Instead, she climbs up a rope called a web unaided, then gets herself situated for her run-through.

Hill is one of the school’s acrobats between eight and 18 years old, who practice two hours a day, five days a week.

"Propelling yourself through the air is kind of a thrill,” said Hill. “And doing a lot of flips and tricks and new things and always challenging yourself."

For Hill and the other performers, it’s not just about executing the moves.

"It's about how you present in the ring in front of the audience,” explained Jennifer Mitchell, the Conservatory’s Executive Vice President and COO. “And really it's sort of like a painter painting on a canvas, but in this case, you are paining the art live."

"These are kids that are ages 14 to 18, and they train five days a week," Mitchell said. "And you can imagine the trust the discipline and dedication they must have."

It's a dedication that pays off.

Hill will be leaving by the summer to pursue her international circus performance dreams. She plans to take online college courses along the way.

When she does depart, she’ll be carrying with her in her experiences a piece the Sailor Circus legacy, as performers have done there since 1949.

"It's a piece of Americana,” Mitchell said of those experiences. "It's a piece of folk life and important that we make it available for future generations' families and children."

The show kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 26, and performances continues through Saturday, December 30. Show times are every day at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For more information, visit or the Sailor Circus Academy's "High Flying Holidays" event page.