Jan Manke grew up among enormous political, social and artistic changes in his hometown of East Berlin, Germany. He was first introduced to circus as a kid seeing government funded , well organized socialist state circuses. He was nine years old after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and very few of the big circuses survived, lots of small avant-garde arts developed in clubs, warehouses and on the streets. Jan explored physical theater, playing in bands and traveling through the streets of Europe and had rediscovered the passion for circus again in his early twenties while working with fire acrobats. They trained him in all kinds of street performances and circus skills, which finally resulted in him auditioning for Berlin’s circus and performing arts school “die Etage” .
He soon found his personal mentor in his teacher “Manfred”, a 70 year old fascinated by the old school circus ideals of hard work and pushing the boundaries of the human body while profiting from traditional knowledge passed on through generations. After 3 years of dedicating his life to building skills Jan traveled to Paris and Montreal in search of the world’s best coaches, always spending his last pennies searching for more knowledge. Today Jan works and lives in New York City (where he met his wife), working on broadening his horizons by teaching, performing, and studying gymnastics and yoga.