The Covid Chronicles: Reopening the Circus, Part Two

LOCAL BUSINESSES RETURN TO THE RING IN THE COVID ERA

Note: This is part two of a four-part series highlighting the gradual reopening of DMV businesses. For part one’s portrait of Emilia’s Acrobatics and Gymnastics, click here.

From the collective shutdown to the current state of affairs, representatives of four companies specializing in recreational, artistic and competitive circus skills talked to The District Ringer about how the global pandemic has reframed their industry. 

Today, our series profiles pole fitness studio Pole Pressure DC in Logan Circle.

“It was like I was on the freeway, and I didn’t have an off ramp.

Devon Williams, CEO of Pole Pressure DC, was at Target in late February when she sensed that something was up.

Shelves normally stocked with alcohol and other cleaning supplies, which she purchased regularly to disinfect shared equipment in her studio, were suddenly empty. As the threat of the virus mounted, so did the impetus to close her business. On March 15th, she did exactly that.

“We were doing really well,” she said of the pole fitness space, which opened in 2009 and was offering 35 classes per week prior to the shutdown. “It was like I was on the freeway, and I didn’t have an off ramp.”

Some of her classes were booked seven months in advance. “How do I just cancel everything and start over?” she remembered thinking. “I would upset so many people.”

But like many resilient entrepreneurs in the District, Williams wasted no time going virtual. 

Less than a week after the studio’s closing, a number of her clients were able to resume their lessons online, from equipment-free flexibility and conditioning classes to pole classes for instructors and students who had an apparatus at home.

“They thought that I had a special line into the mayor. I was like, I find out exactly when it gets posted on the news.”

When Virginia started to reopen in May, Williams said she started getting daily phone calls from the commonwealth about when they could expect her D.C. business to reopen.

“They thought that I had a special line into the mayor,” Williams said, laughing. “I was like, I find out exactly when it gets posted on the news. There’s nothing special happening here. A lot of people were just ready and waiting.”

As the closure wore on, she applied for benefits from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, as well as a small business loan from D.C., both of which she eventually received in June.

After being shuttered for 110 days, Williams finally reopened the studio for in-person classes on July 6th.

With a slimmed-down selection of classes taught by five instructors (including Williams), the studio is only allowing students to take one in-person class per week to reduce the risk of transmission and to give all students a fair opportunity to enroll.

In the next few months, Williams is hoping to double her roster of instructors.

“I want everybody to understand what they need to do before they come in and what I’m doing to protect them, so that they can say, ‘Okay I feel comfortable teaching,’” she said.

Despite taking a substantial financial hit as a result of the pandemic, Williams said that stepping back from her usual business routine has allowed her to re-prioritize the strengths of her company.

“It’s given me an opportunity to really refocus on our core mission. Our main focus is pole, then aerial,” Williams said. “These complementary classes — like our flexibility and our handstand classes — those are great, but they are not our core.”

Narrowing her focus has had a lot to do with her studio’s spatial limitations. During its current state of Phase 2 reopening, the D.C. government recommends a limit of five people per 1,000 square feet of indoor space in gyms and workout studios.

With 1,500 square feet divided between the two rooms of her studio, Williams is hosting six students and one instructor per class at the moment. To make sure students can see their instructor throughout the lesson, she installed television monitors in each room.

“I think people are starting to realize that if they want to have these experiences, they’re willing to pay a little bit of a premium for it.”

One positive outcome for her business has been an uptick in students booking private lessons. “I think people are starting to realize that if they want to have these experiences, they’re willing to pay a little bit of a premium for it,” Williams said.

She also advised any small business owners offering in-person classes to heavily support their instructors in order to best serve their clients.

“The most important people are your instructors,” she said. “Unless you’re superhuman, you’re not going to teach 20 classes a week. You’re just going to be burned out.”

Even as she dealt with a lengthy closure that threatened her business’s stability, Williams still found time to curate two virtual showcases to replace the performances she used to host in the studio.

The shows featured performances by students and teachers, raising money for Mary’s Center — a nonprofit providing healthcare, education and social services to families in D.C. and Maryland — and Black Lives Matter DC.

Because online ticketing was too much of a headache, Williams also encouraged viewers to tip the performers. She said the generosity she felt from the community was heartening.

“It was really encouraging,” she said. “Like, there’s all these other people, you know, and we’re in this together and we’re supporting each other.”

To see Pole Pressure DC’s upcoming class schedule and sign up for a virtual or in-person class, visit their website.

-————————

“We’re fortunate in that our clientele are people who like taking care of themselves, so they want to do the thing that is the healthiest for them.”

In part three of The Covid Chronicles, we’ll hear from Acoatzin Torres and Keith Ryder, owners/operators of Falls Church, Va., aerial studio Monarca in Flight. Stay tuned!

This Week — 28 August 2020

Today in The District Ringer, find out how the Ringling Bros touring circus dealt with the influenza epidemic of 1918. Charlotte’s well-researched and fascinating history offers us a chance to wonder how those in the ‘golden age’ of circus would’ve handled Covid-19. Thanks to our Patreon supporters for making these articles a reality!


August 28th-30th

  • 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.

September

  • Pacific Fire Gathering is producing online events throughout the month of September. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates on how to get involved in the virtual format of one of the longest-running flow/fire events in the country.

WATCH
Sunday (8/30)

  • Headless Cabaret will present its final summer show at 1 p.m. EDT. This Europe-based 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.

SEPTEMBER 5th

  • The Internet Streaming Early Evening Show is now selling a limited number of in-person tickets for their popular variety/music/talk show. If you don’t happen to live in Maine, fear not! You can still watch this quarantine favorite online by purchasing a virtual ticket at this link. The show runs from 7-8:30 p.m. and is fun for the whole family.

ANYTIME

  • Jugglers Joe Fisher, Byron Hutton and Richard Sullivan just released their entertaining video Ring-ins on YouTube, featuring numerous ways to throw a ball through a ring, or ring through a ball? You may question reality after watching this.

LEARN


SUPPORT

  • Sponsor Cirque Us, a New England-based circus education and entertainment company, by subscribing for $3-25/month on their Patreon page. Any tier of support gives you access to their online tutorial series, as well as other exclusive content. The September tutorial mini-series is ‘Do The Splits’ with Rena Dimes.

This Week — 21 August 2020

READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The District Ringer has arrived as your source for DMV circus news. This month’s edition, The Covid Chronicles, delves into how local circus businesses are reopening amidst a worldwide health crisis. Part one of this series spotlights Emilia’s Acrobatics and Gymnastics in Laurel, Md. We caught up with general manager Yuri Kostovetskiy to find out what it was like to open a state-of-the-art facility — fulfilling his father’s 30-year dream — in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the story at this link, where we’ll post fresh content every Friday. Next week’s article looks at how touring circuses dealt with the influenza epidemic of 1918.


PARTICIPATE
August 21st-23rd
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.

August 28th-30th
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 pagefor the latest.


WATCH
August 21st
Battle Night, a tournament of head-to-head three-club juggling battles broadcast live on Zoom and YouTube, continues tonight with the Latino American League at 8:30 p.m. EDT, featuring jugglers from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and El Salvador. Eight jugglers enter. Only one can win! Don’t miss this electrifying event providing a global sampling of the hottest club juggling styles. Log onto the Zoom page at this link, or view the battle on the Unicirclo Laguna YouTube channel.


August 22nd
Aloft Circus Arts in Chicago presents Sanctuary — Live from Aloftat 9:30 p.m. EDT. This show boasts a stellar line-up of acrobats, aerialists, trampoline wizards and more. Visit the Facebook event page for information on how to purchase tickets, which will allow you to stream the performance for your entire household.


August 30th
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.


LEARN
August 28th
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.


SUPPORT
Undefined Futbol is hosting the Freestyle Against Hunger Project. Freestyle soccer players should visit this link and fill out the form to donate at least $15 to World Central Kitchen, which has mobilized worldwide to address food insecurity in disaster areas. Then, upload your favorite, best, funniest freestyle video (10-30 seconds) to a public Instagram page with the hashtag #fsagainsthunger for a chance to win Undefined Futbol swag and to have your video featured on their social media pages.

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.

This Week — 14 August 2020

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 circusdistrict@gmail.com so we know who and what to cover next.

PARTICIPATE
August 21st-23rd

  • 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.

August 28th-30th

  • 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.

WATCH
Sunday (8/16)

  • 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.

August 30th

  • 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.

LEARN
August 28th

  • 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.

SUPPORT

  • 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.

STREAMING

  • 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.

LEARN

  • 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.

LISTEN

  • 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.

SUPPORT

  • 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.

This Week — 7 August 2020

There’s still a lot of summer left to celebrate in The Circus District. Mark your calendars, whether they’re on the wall or on your phone, for these upcoming events featuring spectacular circus talent.

WATCH

Sunday (8/9)

  • 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 donorbox.org/headless4 to support this edition, and RSVP at bit.ly/headless4.

August 30th

  • 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.

LEARN

August 28th-30th

  • 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.

SUPPORT

The Circus District is now on Patreon! Choose a monthly membership option to bring the DMV’s online circus to life with articles, panel discussions, an updated jobs/gigs page, and more targeted support for students, professionals and enthusiasts alike.

How to Cirque From Home

Quarantine content to keep you energized, entertained and engaged.

STREAMING

  • 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.

LEARN

  • 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.

LISTEN

  • 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.

SUPPORT

  • 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.

Sunset & Chill S2E2

May 25th @ 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Join Sunset & Chill this spring for their usual line-up of great music, awesome vendors and uninterrupted flow artistry. Show up early for a $5 yoga class, stay late for the amazing DJs and mesmerizing fire circle.

Cost:
$10 GA tickets at the door (cash or card)
$5 12-under with adult
$5 fire spinners
FREE for guests wearing Sunset and Chill merchandise (available here).

If you wish to spin fire, you must attend one of the two safety meetings (7 p.m. or 8 p.m.). Once you have completed the safety training, you will receive a bracelet to

Activity/Music Schedule:

6-7 p.m. Yoga with Nicky Pham
7-10 p.m.: Fire Spinning + Music by Marko Peli, SHAFT XXL and Raptorstein

Check out the Facebook event page for more information.

Note: This event has zero tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, unsolicited touching or any other oppressive behavior. Please report any of this behavior to Wade, Sam or Ethan. Please send anonymous reports to sunsetandchilldc@gmail.com. All reports will receive a response within 24 hours.

Olde City Farm and Garden
925 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

L’homme Cirque: The One-Man Circus

June 27th – July 7th @ Various Showtimes

Multifaceted performer David Dimitri brings his one-man show to audiences in an intimate setting, using his skills in wire walking, vaulting, human cannonball, physical comedy and music to embody his classic vision of the circus. Dimitri has performed with the Big Apple Circus and Cirque du Soleil, and his weighty task of single-handedly  creating a full circus is buoyed by a sense of awe and delight.

Tickets:
$30 adult ($33 day of show)
$20 for kids 12 and under ($23 day of show)
Get tickets at this link.

Note: No late arrivals will be admitted, so please arrive on time. Parents of children 2 years old or younger may reserve a free ticket for their child by calling the box office (301-581-5100). Opening night VIP tickets, including a meet-and-greet with the artist, are available for $75.

The Music Center At Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Juggle Jam @ CHAW

May 17th @ 6-7 p.m.

Visit the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop for this casual and fun class devoted to the unparalleled joys of juggling. The workshop begins with a brief demo, moves into hands-on practice and concludes with a collaborative performance. No experience necessary, and all equipment is provided.

Feel free to RSVP at the Facebook event page. Cost is a $5 suggested donation to CHAW’s tuition assistance fund.

About the artist: Christian Kloc learned to juggle at age six after seeing the Flying Karamazov Brothers perform. What started as a basic trick became an obsession. Christian grew up attending juggling festivals across the country and performing at local events. After 25 years, he is still surprised and amazed by the power of that ‘basic trick’ to change lives and cause spontaneous outbursts of fun in the world.

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 7th St. SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Marooned! @ Baltimore Theatre Project

April 26th – May 5th @ Various Showtimes

Alex & Olmsted (creators of the Jim Henson Foundation Grant awarded Milo the Magnificent) return to Baltimore Theatre Project with the world premiere of Marooned! a new show that takes place at the outer reaches of space. An astronaut crashes on an uncharted planet and has to face strange creatures, anomalous atmosphere, and isolation with only her Autonomous Task Assistant (ATA) to help her survive. Featuring award-winning puppetry, theater and visuals, this show is for all ages and you can get tickets at this link. GA tickets are $20, $15 for student/senior/artist/military. May 2nd is a pay-what-you-can performance.

Baltimore Theatre Project
45 W. Preston St.
Baltimore, MD 21201

Empathy Media Lab — Spring Variety Art Show

April 27th @ 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Embrace a Saturday full of quality entertainment at the Spring Variety Art Show, including flow arts, live music, DJs, comedy and food vendors. If you can’t see the show in person, be sure to log on to the Live Stream on Empathy Media Lab’s Facebook page. The suggested donation for admission is $10. Performances start at 6 p.m.

Food by Max’s Meats (Brazilian Churrasco)

Flow artists:
Jeremy ‘SaymoSaymo’ Manson — Juggling cigar boxes
Melly Huang — Expressions through fire
Malaka Hasz — Fire hoops
KutMaster Breezy — Shaolin fire staff
B-Swiz / D-Watz — Poi

Empathy Media Lab
5512 Taylor Road
Riverdale, MD 20737