text JORGE PEREZCHICA
photography ALEX AHUMADA
Jenna “H20” Lamb is the founder and director of Flowbox, a professional circus troupe starring local Coachella Valley performing artists. Originally from Delaware, Jenna moved to the Coachella Valley in 2009. “I used to travel as a physical therapist assistant, passing through the desert and there was something about it that I really liked. The weather was always nice,” Jenna enthused. After graduating from college with a degree in physical therapy, Jenna worked at a Baltimore hospital, The Kennedy Krieger Institute, entertaining children with disabilities. Once a month for three years she performed “Jenna’s Crazy Rockin’ Circus Show.”
Overcoming obstacles has been commonplace for Jenna Lamb. She was born with a broken collar bone and endured scoliosis and back pain growing up. In spite of this, she pushed through adversity. She began dancing at the young age of three and by five her mother had started a dance team. Jenna advanced to Junior Director of the team by the age of 12. In high school, Jenna expanded her capabilities, showing proficiency in stretching, strengthening and traditional gymnastics. She became captain of her cheer squad and developed skills in pyramid style acrobatics and overhead spotting. At the age of 15, Jenna participated in equestrian vaulting which took her own acrobatic skills to the back of a moving horse. At 17 Jenna attended a professional circus camp for advanced performers. From this moment on, with the exception of physical therapy, circus arts have taken center stage in her coaching and performance.
At 27, Jenna traveled to Joshua Tree and met Susan Bruntage PT, the therapist who helped improve her scoliosis and changed her life. “Finding that therapist finally helped change my back — all these things would not be happening the way they are happening without her,” Jenna explains. Unfortunately, as Jenna’s back improved, she started having pain in her shoulder. To compensate and allow healing, she bought a rolling globe — a circus skill in which the performer balances atop a large sphere that weighs approximately 35 pounds. Performing at a young age and physical therapy education have been the key to her success. “Physical therapy was good for allowing me to learn, but also to teach others,” says Lamb. “I’m like a mechanic for the body, I feel like I am cheating because I can go to the gym and work on certain sets of muscles to help me out in specific things such as walking on stilts.” Although Jenna loves performing, she admits, “I’m a director at heart. I love performing, but I like writing the show. It’s about love, forgiveness and trying your best — triumph for the little guy.” Over the years Jenna has acquired a wide range of skills, from fire dancing, stilts, and aerial arts, to juggling, clowning/improv and hula-hoops.
The origin of Flowbox progressed through a series of events: Jenna lived in Joshua Tree for six months but didn’t find much performance work and the driving to and from events became too much of a hassle. As a solution, she decided to move to North Palm Springs and started an event called, “Flow in the Park” for budding performers to learn and practice skills. Eventually she moved the event into a warehouse and named the studio “The Flowbox” established in 2011. Through the success of Flowbox, Jenna and the troupe have performed at the annual Joshua Tree Music and Arts Festival and many other events throughout the Coachella Valley. “The troupe is not about being the best,” says Jenna. “It’s about getting people involved. I meet people and they say, ‘When I was a kid, I always wanted to be in a circus.” So she tells them, “Well… come! Come join us!”
For a while, Jenna lived in a four-bedroom house in Cathedral City, occupied by fellow performing artists – it became a true communal haven. “I’m kind of a talent agent,” says Jenna enthusiastically: “I find artists to work with and figure out what skills they perform. When clients call me, I get to tell them I know just the person for the job! For better or worse its been my desert family.” To aspiring performers, Jenna says the most important quality is: “Confidence! Learn to be in the moment. Learn to be the character that is yourself.”