Nels Ross is Chief Executive Oddball of In Jest, Inc.. He co-founded In Jest in 1992 with Andrew Barden (12/18/72 – 10/8/17). Nels currently works solo and with other speakers and performers to “defy gravity and spread joy” in the U.S., Canada, and abroad.
His diverse background includes: studying mathematics, education, and theater at the University at Buffalo; touring with a nonprofit circus; training with instructors from Broadway and Cirque du Soleil; teaching juggling/life workshops; and uplifting people for 25+ years.
Nels is a husband and proud father of five kids.
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Fun Fact… Nels Ross uses his first and middle names for performing and speaking, claiming it is easier to remember and confuses creditors.
In Jest Timeline
1972… Nels was born in Corning, NY, in a makeshift maternity ward after a major flood. His mom quips he was destined to be a CEO, as he was born on a conference room table. (Really.) Andrew, his “brother from another mother,” was born soon after wearing big shoes and a red nose. (Not really.)
1980… From an early age, Andrew and Nels explored juggling, clowning, mime, acting, and other arts, from summer camps to national workshops. That’s not surprising when you consider both their parents were involved in performing arts ministry.
1992… Andrew and Nels toured the Northeast U.S. with The Circus Kingdom, a nonprofit devoted to spreading joy and good will. They co-founded “In Jest: The Antic Arts Company” that year.
1996+… Upon completing degrees in mathematics and education, Nels decided to pursue speaking and performing “fool time.” When Andrew moved on to other pursuits and the west coast, Nels continued working with him and others.
2000+… In Jest, Inc. was incorporated. Nels took intensive workshops with acclaimed artists and instructors from varied traditions, and traveled extensively from Australia to Bermuda and Manitoba to Mexico.
Currently… Nels aspires to “practice joy on the path of service,” in honor of Andrew. He works with a network of talents to entertain and uplift people.
Nels with Andrew (’92), solo (’07), and with son Noah (’14)
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