Thanks to our Patreon supporters, we’re excited to introduce The District Ringer, your source for monthly DMV circus news. Our first series of articles will hit the virtual news stands next Friday (8/21). This month’s edition delves into how local circus businesses are reopening during a worldwide health crisis — and how touring circuses dealt with the influenza epidemic of 1918.
This content would not be possible without our amazing community. Your energy, feedback and financial support keep The Circus District abuzz. As we expand our content, remember to send us a telegram at firstname.lastname@example.org so we know who and what to cover next.
- The National Capital Puppetry Festival includes puppet shows and slams, panel discussions, and workshops happening online throughout the weekend. The Friday evening show (8-9 p.m.) is hosted by Alex & Olmsted and features puppeteers from Maryland, New York and Mexico. Registration is $20-25 for the full weekend. Visit this link to sign up and see the full schedule.
- CIMAC Valparaíso is an annual circus/juggling festival in Mexico, held entirely online this year and featuring workshops, talks and shows. While many of the events are in Spanish, the topics — clowning, dance, juggling — should translate to some degree. Visit the Facebook event page for the latest.
- Headless Cabaret is an online circus show curated for the small screen, appearing every Sunday through the end of the summer at 1 p.m. EDT. This production is viewable on YouTube (where you can also watch their previous shows) and supports artists who have lost work during the global pandemic. Visit their Facebook page for more info about how to donate.
- Enjoy a live show on Zoom featuring four dancers and circus artists to delight and amaze you at Cocktail Cirquantine @Home. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT. There will be an artist talk-back following the 7:30 p.m. show. Guests are invited to dress up and turn on their cameras to join the fun! Tickets are pay-what-you-can at this link. You will receive the event link after you purchase your ticket.
- Cirque Psych out of Colorado is offering a Mental Health First Aid for Circus workshop online from 3-5:30 p.m. EDT. This workshop gives you tools to support circus artists, from students to professionals, who may be struggling with trauma, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or eating disorders, taught by licensed social worker Janelle Peters. Register at this link. Cost is on a sliding scale, starting at $35.
- Help Modern Vaudeville Press build the next generation of jugglers by supporting their efforts to make and distribute juggling ball sets (with printed instructions) to Little Free Libraries across the United States. Just $5 will cover the costs of making, packaging and shipping a set of balls to a community of soon-to-be jugglers. Visit this link to donate.
How to Cirque From Home
Quarantine content to keep you energized, entertained and engaged.
- CircusTalk posted their latest panel in the Wake Up Call for Inclusion series, viewable at this link, moderated by ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson and featuring panelists with backgrounds in circus production, social circus, theater arts and university arts education to discuss overcoming barriers to substantive institutional change for racial equity in the circus world.
- The 7 Fingers recently released their show Cuisine & Confessions for online viewing at this link. Centering on shared experiences of cooking and eating with friends and family, this show appeals to audiences’ taste buds to convey emotional memories and powerful stories. This month, 10% of donations to Foundation The 7 Fingers will go to support Circus Harmony in St. Louis.
- Atomic Doll and Shocked & Amazed present the Stay In-Sideshow, originally aired on June 5th but now available to view on Vimeo. This show combines campy sideshow with feats of daring, juggling, and blissful ignorance, all emceed by the charismatic commentary of Cinema Insomnia’s Mr. Lobo.
- The latest episode of MOVE IT! is available on Vimeo at this link. In this edition, Mark Lonergan interviews Chris Lashua, founder and artistic director of Cirque Mechanics, as they explore video highlights from three of the company’s shows (Birdhouse, Boom Town and Pedal Punk).
- The National Centre for Circus Arts of London is currently streaming their 2015 show Polymer. Watch the show at this link. This production includes graduates of the school and is directed by Lina Johansson, co-founder of the female acrobatic theater troupe Mimbre.
- La Symphonie du Hanneton — Charlie Chaplin’s grandson James Thiérrée directs and stars in this masterpiece of slapstick humor, acrobatic artistry and inventive visuals. This show will captivate young and old from beginning to end, with acts of juggling, trapeze and contortion throughout the production.
- Cirque du Soleil has been releasing regular videos for your at-home entertainment. A recent video profiled their shows Totem, Corteo and Volta, viewable at this link.
- Don’t sleep on the latest episode of The New Circus, which takes you into the world of Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University. This YouTube series, directed and created by Samantha Gurnick, shines a light on the contemporary circus scene in the U.S. and beyond. Visit this link to see it now.
- You can now stream D.C.-based Pointless Theatre Company’s Rite of Spring, featuring dance, puppetry and mask set to Stravinsky’s iconic score to tell the story of a desperate future wrought by ecological collapse. Follow this link to watch this riveting production, and donate to Pointless Theatre Co. here.
- Swedish contemporary circus company Cirkus Cirkӧr has released their show Wear it like a crown to watch on Vimeo at this link. This show had its debut in 2010, completing a trilogy of circus shows about the body, this one focused on the complex relationship between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The production’s six-person ensemble explores this theme through knife-throwing, juggling, shadowplay, illusions, acrobatics and drama.
- Smashed, a Gandini Juggling production recently made available to view anytime on Vimeo at this link, pays homage to choreographer Pina Bausch with nine jugglers, 100 red apples and a soundtrack of popular music ranging from Bach to country icon Tammy Wynette. They’ve also released their production of Twenty Twenty, for your online viewing pleasure at this link. After you watch the shows, throw them some dollars (or pounds) to show your appreciation at their fundraising page to support their juggling artists. And follow Gandini Juggling on Facebook to see their next release.
- The Kennedy Center’s Digital Stage features continuously updated content from their rich performance archive. Recent updates include a magic trick by illusionist Kevin James and a hilariously impressive rendition of ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ by a French percussion quartet.
- Local artist and antipodist Anne Weshinskey is offering a video tutorial series for anyone interested in making spinning carpets (for foot or hand manipulation), with more details at this link.
- Make a Puppet— Local physical theater and puppetry duo Alex & Olmsted teach you how to build and animate a charismatic puppet out of ordinary household items.
- In the Dark Circus Arts is hosting weekly Zoom classes in hooping, flexibility, dance and conditioning, with schedules announced on their Facebook page.
- Emilia’s Acrobatics and Gymnastics is offering Zoom classes for kids and adults in flexibility, conditioning, handstands and yoga. Follow them on Facebook for the latest schedule updates and meeting links.
- Monarca in Flight is now offering online classes in flexibility, conditioning and yoga. See the class schedule and sign up on their website.
- Get expert instruction in handstands, flexibility, contortion and conditioning with Shelly Flex Athletics. Shelly Guy offers virtual coaching from her studio in Gaithersburg, Md., with pro tips from years of experience teaching and performing handstands, contortion and aerial arts. Get started by messaging her on Facebook or visiting https://shellyflex.com/coaching.
- The Muse in Brooklyn is offering donation-based online classes at this link. From juggling to acro to handstands to games to theater, their wide selection of accessible classes will keep all ages of your household engaged and entertained during quarantine.
- Pole Pressure DC is offering virtual classes in deep stretch and flexibility, pole conditioning, chair choreography and more. Visit their website to explore membership options that will give you access to these classes, which allow you to participate from home with minimal or no equipment.
- The New England Center for Circus Arts is offering virtual classes in stretching, conditioning, juggling and more. See their calendar of available classes and register at this link.
- The Circus World museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, is posting regular updates on its Facebook and Instagram feeds offering virtual tours of its incredible collection of circus memorabilia, musical instruments and archival literature. Also, get a free print-at-home coloring book (for kids of all ages!) from their website.
- CircusTalk provides a centralized circus resource including news, education, jobs and events. Some parts of the site are free of charge, but others require a CircusTalk Pro membership.
- The Hideaway Circus podcast recently released their latest episode, which profiles the broad community reach of Midnight Circus in the Parks (Chicago) and the Sellam Circus School (Maine). This edition also includes a conversation with Jay Gilligan, whose juggling — through creation, instruction and performance — has opened many doors in the contemporary circus scene.
- see u down the road, presented by Circus Voices through CircusTalk, is available on all podcasting platforms. This short-form series chronicles the fascinating stories of professional circus artists in an engaging and fresh manner. Visit this link for the latest episode.
- Listen to the first episode of Monkey See, Monkey Discuss, a Circus Voices podcast, at this link. This show follows juggling convention organizer Rosie Kelly and recent Circomedia graduate Ruby Burgess as they discuss the state of the circus industry in times of COVID-19. They will address issues of mental health in the circus community, as well as how circus schools and organizations are making the adjustment to online and non-traditional spaces.
- The Props to That! Podcast is available on Spotify (and iTunes Canada). This series interviews object manipulation experts and contemporary circus artists about their craft, covering topics like street performing, clowning, prop making, circus careers and the creative process.
- The Artist Athlete interview series (available on YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play and other major podcasting platforms) follows aerialist Shannon McKenna as she chats with industry professionals, from circus therapists to Cirque du Soleil acrobats, about their lives backstage, safe training practices and other lessons from lives in circus.
- Make a donation to Stav Meishar’s crowd-funded project to publish her book The Lorchs: The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Circus Dynasty. For a pledge of £30 (about $37), you will receive a spectacular necklace or brooch in the shape of a circus tent — scroll down the Kickstarter page for photos. This book chronicles the Lorch family circus, which attained international acclaim in the early 1900s. While many of the troupe’s members avoided Nazi capture during the Holocaust, their circus never returned to the performing circuit. Support the legacy of this incredible family with a donation to the book, slated for release in August 2021.
- This global pandemic has left no member of the circus community unscathed. From lost gigs to cancelled contracts to jobs put on hold, this event will leave its mark on our worldwide community. Think about the teachers, performers and producers in your community who continue to bring light and joy to the world through their art in these difficult times. If you’re in the DMV, here are a few creators and venues worth checking out for their inventive content and worthwhile fundraising campaigns. We will keep updating this list, so check back often! Happenstance Theater, Mobtown Ballroom, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Anacostia Arts Center, Joe’s Movement Emporium.