TRICKS OF THE LIGHT: PART TWO

Circus Photographers Keep Art in Focus

The District Ringer recently spoke to Dani Pierce and Shamal Halmat, both of whom excel at keeping circus arts in the frame. Learn about their life experiences with photography in part one of this series.

In part two, we share Pierce and Halmat’s advice on how to raise your photography and videography game, including practical tips, online resources, and artists who have personally inspired their work.

Photo by Shamal Halmat, (c) Shamal Deare Creative, 2019.

Pro Tips from Circus Photographers

SHAMAL HALMAT

  • Think about the story you want to tell. That’s the point of all art, photography and circus — to actually revolve around good storytelling.
  • Fire spinners: Slow down! To get a good photo, you kind of have to spin differently. Usually it’s too fast and chaotic. For ‘super spicy’ fire pictures, slow down as much as you can.
  • Good content is good content. For video, a lot of it comes down to making good, interesting content that people can relate to. It doesn’t really matter if you’re filming on an iPhone or a cinema-grade camera.
  • Master the basics. Learning the basics of photography and video — composition, frame rates, lighting, audio and editing — can go a long way. Try filming at ‘golden hour’ to embrace the power of natural light.
  • Circus artists: Give credit, and give back! Giving credit all the time is pretty important. And when working with a photographer, let them get something that could be for a portfolio — something they could actually use to get more work. Always keep them in mind and give them referrals to other people. If you’re dealing with event coordinators a lot, pass on the information for the photographer to work the same events.

DANI PIERCE

  • Focus on the artist, and how to capture what they’re trying to convey. One of the things that drew me to the circus community is that it was a community of people who had taken seriously things that other people didn’t see as careers — and they really had a focused attention and commitment to their craft. I’ve always appreciated that. What I love about photography is that we’re able to capture other people’s art.
  • Explore ideas beyond the ‘best trick’ or ‘favorite pose.’ I will often see beauty in the form that maybe the artist — that isn’t the most dynamic part of their act, or maybe they didn’t like how their lines looked, but I think it looks beautiful. I think there’s a balance of being aware of what circus artists strive for, and then what they would actually want captured and shared.
  • For live performances, be prepared and stay in the moment! Sometimes there’s only like three chances for the best shot. You really have to be ready to go. There have definitely been so many opportunities where I think, oh man I totally missed that shot, and that was the last performance.
  • Value your time and your work. That idea of exposure and art for art? No! People need to eat and pay their bills. I charge because I know how important it is for other photographers — that I don’t just give away art for free — because unfortunately, the way that the art economy is structured, it just does everyone else harm.
Photo by Dani Pierce for Street Light Circus, (c) 2018.

Further Inspiration & Education

From Dani Pierce:

  • Acey Harper is a fine art photographer based out of Paris. He focuses heavily on the human figure, with many of his shoots involving acrobats and aerialists. See how he set up a stunning portrait of aerialist Morgaine Rosenthal hanging by her teeth from the back of a 1957 Chevy in this video. The portrait appears in the book [private acts] The Acrobat Sublime, photographed by Acey Harper and written by Harriet Heyman. “Both acrobats and photographers are used to working hard and in hardship for our respective art, and for [this book], we shared the difficulties of bringing our visions to life,” Harper said in an interview with Loenke Magazine. Read the full interview here.
  • Gregory Crewsdon is a New York City-based photographer who stages extraordinary suburban scenes that resemble cinema in their exacting consideration of lighting, sets and cast. He cites Diane Arbus and Edward Hopper as inspirations. His work often takes on a surreal quality through the staging of humans, nature and architecture.

From Shamal Halmat:

  • Taylor Jackson is a Canadian photographer who specializes in wedding photography and videography. He maintains a blog with multiple courses for aspiring multimedia creators. Many of the courses focus on weddings, but class titles also include ‘Creating Profitable YouTube Videos’ and ‘Make Money With Your Photos.’ His YouTube channel is full of knowledge about everything from event portraiture to landscape photography, based on his many years of experience shooting photos and film across the globe.
  • Larry Cohen takes poignant urban photos in Baltimore (where he is based) and other cities. His current focus is the social justice movement. He has also worked extensively with burner communities in Richmond, Baltimore, D.C. and Philadelphia. You can see his latest work at I Shot Baltimore, a diary of his photographic interests.
  • Doug Sanford is a studio and event photographer who lives and works in Washington, D.C. He takes lively and colorful portraits of artists and other subjects, including his starkly beautiful series Playing with Fire.
  • Aaron Kirn is a North Carolina-based photographer who takes masterfully lit, charismatic photos of fire artists and other variety performers. Check out his instagram to see his amazing work, and view his online portfolio here.

Special thanks to Dani Pierce and Shamal Halmat, who generously provided many of the photos you see on the header of the Circus District blog.

This Week — 13 November 2020

This month has plenty of scintillating circus surprises in store for you. Scroll now to get your calendar in order (or chaos… whichever you prefer).


READ

  • Today, The District Ringer brings you the final edition of The Covid Chronicles, catching up with TSNY-DC general manager Mandy Keithan, who tells us how the trapeze school in Navy Yard has reopened and rebuilt their class offerings around the challenges of 2020. Read the story here.

WATCH

TOMORROW (11/14)

  • See the next generation of circus artists perform during the Circadium Virtual Gala from 7:30-10 p.m. EST. This live production features current students at the school of contemporary circus in Philadelphia. Tickets benefit Circadium, the only school offering higher education in circus arts in the United States. Buy tickets here and check out the silent auction, with items including aerial silks, moving sculptures, circus face masks and more!

MONDAY (11/16)

  • The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show: Quarantine Edition starts at 8 p.m. EST. Watch on Facebook or YouTube. You can donate during the show at the links provided, or support their fantastic feats of circus anytime via the donation page on their website.

TUESDAY (11/17)

  • See the online premiere of On Beckett/In Screen, an award-winning production conceived and performed by Bill Irwin, whose commanding acting and clowning skills bring playwright Samuel Beckett’s works to life on the digital screen. The show runs through November 22. Reserve your timed viewing spot at this link.

WEDNESDAY (11/18)

  • Meet the Jugglers is a brand new interview series hosted by Pearls of Juggling. The first live chat — with Mexican club and contact juggler Santi Malabari — will take place at 11:30 a.m. EST on the Pearls of Juggling Facebook page.

FRIDAY (11/20)

  • Don’t miss an online screening of Cirque Du Cambodia, available throughout the weekend (11/20-22). This gripping documentary follows circus artists Sopha and Dina on their journey from 2011-2018, attending a social circus program in their home country, then École Nationale de Cirque to achieve their lifelong dream of performing in Cirque du Soleil. Visit this link to purchase a ticket, which supports the stars of the film as well as the circus program they grew up in.
  • The finals of Battle Night USA will start at 8:30 p.m. EST. Watch as some of the best three-club jugglers in the nation throw down their smoothest, spiciest and most technical sequences in this action-packed head-to-head format. Who will be crowned the campeon/campeona de los Estados Unidos? Find out by visiting the Battle Night Facebook page for the Zoom link, or watch on the Unicirclo Laguna YouTube channel.
  • Enjoy a casual demonstration of airborne straddles, whips, gazelles and layouts during the TSNY Staff Flying Trapeze Demo from 7-7:45 p.m. on Facebook live. Visit the event page for more details.
  • Check out Rise: A Virtual Performance, an ensemble aerial dance performance that tackles the challenges of 2020 from In the Wings aerial studio in Boulder, Colorado. The show will be available for online viewing 11/20-22 and 11/27-29. Visit the Facebook event page for tickets.

SATURDAY (11/21)

  • Marvel at some of Maine’s best performers in The Matt Tardy Benefit Show, a fundraiser for juggler and variety artist Matthew Tardy, who is battling Stage 4 thyroid cancer. The line-up includes Michael Menes, Fritz Grobe, Jason Tardy, Michael Miclon, George Saterial and Showtime Steve, sure to delight audiences of all ages. The show will be livestreamed from Johnson Hall at 7 p.m. Visit this link for tickets.

ATTEND

TUESDAY (11/17)

  • The DC Unicycle Meetup group is hosting an all-levels practice session from 5:30-6:30 p.m. EST at Volta Park in Georgetown. Visit their page to reserve a spot, and let them know if you need to borrow a unicycle.

LEARN

  • Dancer, pole artist and burlesque performer Eva Mystique just opened Studio Mystique in Northwest D.C. Visit her website to register for private lessons in pole, burlesque, belly dance, chair and floor work. The studio is also available to artists looking to rent a space for photo shoots, rehearsals and virtual performances.

The Covid Chronicles: Reopening the Circus, Part Four

LOCAL BUSINESSES RETURN TO THE RING IN THE COVID ERA

Note: This is the final installment of a four-part series highlighting the gradual reopening of DMV businesses. Part one profiles Emilia’s Acrobatics and Gymnastics, part two catches up with Pole Pressure DC, and part three visits Monarca in Flight.

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.


Before 2020, D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood attracted more than 2.2 million visitors in a six-month period. Fans of the Washington Nationals baseball team flocked there in 2019, crowding the streets and clamoring for pricey parking spaces.

As fans made their way to and from the stadium, many were probably surprised to discover another D.C. landmark — the local outpost of the Trapeze School of New York (TSNY).

The school’s blue-and-white building, with an indoor and outdoor flying trapeze rig, frequently caught the attention of passersby, and signaled that circus arts deserve a prominent home in Washington.

Due to a planned redevelopment at the end of summer 2019, the school set up shop a few blocks east of its former home. While relocating was at times stressful and unpredictable, the biggest challenge came in mid-March as Covid forced the the business to shut down completely.

“I certainly have moments where I’ve been thankful for my lines-puller training and my meditation practice — for that ability to take a breath and respond rather than react.”

TSNY-DC general manager Mandy Keithan said that when facing the incredible impacts of a global pandemic, her experience practicing and coaching flying trapeze has truly paid off.

“I certainly have moments where I’ve been thankful for my lines-puller training and my meditation practice — for that ability to take a breath and respond rather than react — because there is a lot of fear and urgency around many of the decisions that we make,” she said.

While the early stages of the pandemic were spent applying for federal paycheck assistance, keeping an eye on case numbers, researching best practices, and helping staff with unemployment claims, the school was able to resume classes in late June.

One key to their successful return was (initially) limiting enrollment to students who had taken classes at TSNY previously.

With so many new safety protocols in place — from health questionnaires to mask wearing to sanitizing to physical distancing — the management team felt most comfortable working with a familiar student base.

Before accepting new students, Keithan said, “We wanted to make sure that we were ready to give them the same level of hospitality, warmth and security — that sense of security that comes from building a trusting relationship with someone you’ve just met, when they’re about to help you jump off a platform 23 feet in the air.”

“When that’s the community expectation, and everybody’s doing it, it feels like a little microcosm of what we wish we were all experiencing.”

Keithan said that while the D.C. government has made many good choices regarding the public health emergency so far, there is room for improvement.

“A big part of it would be clarity from the government about the stages that we’re in, how their rulings are meant to be applied/interpreted to different facilities, and what their path is moving forward,” she said.

Fortunately, the school’s classes in flying trapeze, aerial and trampoline have run smoothly thus far.

“It has felt surprisingly positive and easy to set and hold a really high mask and distancing expectation,” Keithan said. “When that’s the community expectation, and everybody’s doing it, it feels like a little microcosm of what we wish we were all experiencing” in the world at large, she added.

Like other circus businesses in the area, Keithan said that TSNY-DC has occasionally had to educate the public about myth vs. reality.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there, some it being spread very widely,” she said.

During the summer, she noticed an unsubstantiated rumor circulating online that the District of Columbia was shutting down all kids’ camps. At the time, TSNY-DC was operating a children’s program in strict accordance with D.C. health and safety regulations.

Keithan said a strong team of staff incorporating a variety of perspectives is crucial to keeping everyone safe and supported.

“We feel very safe and confident in increasing what we do and still making sure we’re managing the flow of people and the level of protection,” she said, adding that it’s important to empower staff to firmly apply the established protocols.

“You can have the very best, most thought-out policies, and still have to — in every situation — make difficult judgment calls,” she said.

Part of TSNY-DC’s reopening strategy was to temporarily scrap drop-in classes in favor of workshops that keep student and staff cohorts consistent for weeks at a time.

They have since resumed a limited number of drop-in classes, and have gradually expanded their roster as the community acclimates to the new guidelines.

In 2021, the school will transition to a tiered monthly membership model, adding more drop-in classes that can be combined with workshops to suit students’ individual learning goals.

Keithan, who loves teaching and performing partner acrobatics as well as flying trapeze, said she hopes that 2021 brings improved circumstances for circus arts that rely heavily on physical touch and spotting.

“I hope that we’ll be able to keep the counts down and get to the point where things like touching and acrobatics can happen again,” she said. “Those are some really concrete things that we miss that we’d like to bring back.”

Next Friday (11/20), find out what trapeze fundamentals and new tricks TSNY-DC staff are working on during the TSNY Staff Flying Trapeze Demo from 7-7:45 p.m.

This event is free to view on Facebook live, and gives new and experienced students alike great insight into the learning process from those who’ve ‘been there.’

To view TSNY-DC’s upcoming classes and workshops, visit their website or Facebook page.

TRICKS OF THE LIGHT: PART ONE

Circus Photographers Keep Art in Focus

Note: This is part one of a two-part series. Look for part two on Nov. 20th.

Circus artists rarely stay still.

Our earthly limitations of gravity, strength and flexibility demand constant motion to maintain balance and control. Capturing the resulting whirlwind of kinetic energy in a single frame is a true feat.

Fortunately, DMV photographers are up to the task.

The District Ringer spoke to Dani Pierce and Shamal Halmat, both of whom excel at keeping circus arts in the frame. We learned what makes a good image, how the circus community can support their work, and what projects they’ve been dreaming up lately.

Dani Pierce for Street Light Circus (c) 2016

For Dani Pierce, photography began as a way to indulge her creativity without feeling the pressure of a live performance.

“I always had a camera in my hand, even when I was a little kid,” Pierce said. “I discovered at an early age that if I took a picture or made a video that was interesting, it was a way of passively getting attention without having to be a performer.”

She said the photography classes she took at the University of Akron offered a needed break from the law and business courses her family pushed her to study.

“I kind of wish that someone would have told me that there are people who actually make their careers out of photography, because I might have focused on it more in college,” she said.

Pierce said she felt lucky to be one of the last cohorts at the university to work with film.

Developing and printing photos in the darkroom gave her a tactile understanding of how to capture and edit an image, tools that digital photographers now manipulate with the click of a mouse. The darkroom also provided a comforting artistic space to glean inspiration from fellow creatives.

“The characters in that class were just all really unique, creative and welcoming,” Pierce said.

“I remember eating skittles while I was developing, which was probably so bad for my health,” she added, laughing.

From 2015-2017, Pierce took photos for the visual art/performance collaborative Street Light Circus, with exhibitions of her work appearing at American University’s Katzen Gallery, The Fridge (Capitol Hill), and The GallAerie (Mount Pleasant).

“It was a really lovely way to connect with other creatives,” Pierce said. “I think that was the first time I really felt like a part of the scene in D.C., doing something that people found interesting.”

Pierce said her ideal photo shoot would focus on the process of developing a circus act from concept to execution, showing the unpolished moments of creation that go into the final product.

“It would just be about capturing the artist and their emotions through really simple portraiture,” she said.

As for supporting photographers in the community, Pierce said acknowledgment and engagement are key.

“Make sure that if someone has offered you something, that you are giving them credit,” she said. “And I think the best thing you can do for other artists is to remember them and continue to involve them.”

Shamal Halmat, Shamal Deare Creative (c) 2019

Shamal Halmat started pursuing photography seriously about three years ago. Before that, he often found himself on the other side of the lens.

As a juggler, Halmat said he was “always seeing people taking videos and pictures, then never ever seeing the footage,” echoing a common frustration for circus artists in a world saturated by smartphones. “So I decided to get a camera,” he said.

Halmat’s father ran an audio visual company when he was a kid, and Halmat later studied mass communications, public relations and advertising in college. So while he had a firm grasp of the marketing aspect, he craved a deeper understanding of photographic technique.

Much of his education came from ‘YouTube University,’ which he described as “watching hours and hours of videos, going out and actually practicing, and talking with friends who were already established photographers.”

Soon enough, he was attending events like Sunset & Chill to snap photos and video of one of his favorite subjects — fire spinning. But getting the right shot wasn’t always easy.

“The fire will start out really bright, but then it gets dimmer, so you have to adjust your settings to keep up with it,” he said. “The lighting conditions are very tricky.”

Now armed with a portfolio of work, Halmat said he is interested in helping circus performers strengthen their branding through marketing and press packages, and would also love to create a documentary about organizations bringing circus arts to refugee camps and crisis areas worldwide.

This summer, Halmat served as an assistant filmmaker for Resist, a music video produced by Sunset & Chill supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. This mesmerizing short film highlights local flow artists backed by the tunes of Mustafa Akbar and Fort Knox Five Recordings.

“That was just great — being able to work with my friends, work with flow, and use a really nice RED cinema camera,” he said. “I’ve been really appreciative and grateful for all the things that Sunset & Chill has been doing for myself and the community.”

Credits: Directed By: Spencer Grundler Producers: Sunset & Chill (Max Labasbas, Sam Stevens, Wade Hammes) Edited By: Daniel Bowie Music Contributed by: Mustafa Akbar, Fort Knox Five Recordings 1st AC: Shamal Halmat Equipment Rental Courtesy of: Capital Camera Rentals Performers: Rae Hopkins Willow Snow Coffin Nachtmar AArrow Sign Spinners (https://aarrowsignspinners.com/tag/wa…) Sonny Tran Iman Bowman https://sunsetandchill.com

Further reading: How a diverse community harnesses its skills to support Black Lives Matter The Uncommon District, Aug. 21, 2020.


NEXT UP

Join us next week for Part Four of The Covid Chronicles, profiling TSNY-DC (Navy Yard) in its quest to resume classes and maintain community (safely) in unprecedented times.

And come back on Nov. 20th for TRICKS OF THE LIGHT: PART TWO, including pro photo/video tips from our featured photographers and some insight into the artists who have inspired their work.

The Covid Chronicles: Reopening the Circus, Part Three

LOCAL BUSINESSES RETURN TO THE RING IN THE COVID ERA

Note: This is part three of a four-part series highlighting the gradual reopening of DMV businesses. Part one profiles Emilia’s Acrobatics and Gymnastics. Part two catches up with Pole Pressure DC.

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.

This edition takes us to Falls Church, Virginia, where a vibrant home for circus lives just beyond the REI, an auto supply store, and a parking lot full of moving trucks.

Back in January of this year, the first thing you did when you entered Monarca in Flight’s three-room aerial studio was take off your shoes. Then, it was time to stretch. The colorful space, laden with extra-cushiony blue mats and a tidy shelf of foam rollers, warmly invited this ritual.

As students greeted one another with smiles and settled into their post-work or after-school routines, there was a comfort in making this place a regular stop for classes in aerial, flexibility and other circus skills.

Of course, this was before Covid-19. Before the pandemic disrupted this pleasant rhythm for instructors and students alike.

“It has become obvious that optimism will not win out in this case.”

With the threat to public health looming large, the studio closed its doors on March 16th, hoping to reopen once the case numbers stabilized.

To make matters even more difficult, Monarca in Flight owner Acoatzin Torres was in Mexico at the time, acquiring immigration documents to fully secure his legal residency in the U.S.

Torres’s husband B. Keith Ryder, who manages the office at Monarca, was balancing his concern for his husband’s safe return with their shared determination to preserve the business.

“The day after he left was when the country started falling apart,” Ryder said. “The border (with Mexico) closed a couple days later,” he added. “The consulate closed the day before his appointment. We were stuck in a weird limbo, not knowing when he was going to get back.”

When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northram issued a stay-at-home order on March 30th, Torres and Ryder knew they could not safely resume operations at Monarca any time soon.

“It has become obvious that optimism will not win out in this case,” they wrote in a Facebook post a day after the governor’s announcement. 

As a result, they had to postpone their spring aerial showcase and cancel their annual C4 Weekend, a four-day marathon of circus workshops that had attracted a growing number of participants in the last few years.

A week after the shutdown, Monarca began offering online classes, including popular conditioning sessions with local aerialist Gwynne Flanagan. 

Classes with charismatic titles like ‘Booty Blast’ and ‘Shake it Out’ allowed them to stay connected to their regular students while also engaging new sign-ups from across the country, Ryder said.

“We actually picked up a few new potential students through the online classes,” Ryder said. Some of these virtual offerings also allowed them to reach students outside of their usual business hours.

“We saw a fair amount of interest in the 8 a.m. classes, because it’s something to start their day,” Ryder said. “So it gives those students somewhere to go for their early morning stretch and rollout.”

After a couple of months of online-only instruction, they decided to gradually resume in-person classes in June, as Virginia loosened its restrictions on businesses like restaurants and fitness studios.

They began by inviting small groups of regular students back for open studio aerial sessions, “just to get back into the practice of having people in the space,” Ryder said.

“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 addition to the usual safety measures of mandatory masks and physical distancing, Monarca shifted to operating every other day, giving them time to disinfect in between sessions. Ryder says he runs an ozone generator overnight to kill any lingering contaminants, and also purchased medical-grade air filters to minimize risk during the day.

Despite stressing frequent cleaning and disinfection, Ryder said that cultivating a safe and responsible culture is the most important part of reopening a business right now.

“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,” Ryder said.

“People go a little bit crazy sanitizing surfaces,” Ryder said. “That’s great, but that’s not really the big vector of infection. It’s the airborne stuff. So, do not be afraid to insist that people wear masks all the time,” he added.

In addition to gradually welcoming their students back in late June, Ryder also celebrated Torres’s return — with documents to secure his legal residency in hand — on July 10th. And following two weeks of quarantine at a local hotel, Torres was finally home for good.

“I don’t think we’re going to see anything like the sort of operation we had before — where we had full classes — until there’s a vaccine and herd immunity.”

In September, Torres resumed teaching aerial classes, and started to recruit new students outside of the studio’s pre-pandemic membership base.

“We want to make sure that whoever’s coming in — whether they’re taking a drop-in class or they have a punch-card — they are totally aware of our guidelines,” he said.

While the lengthy closure and limits on in-person class attendance have certainly impacted the studio financially, Ryder said they will stay in business. This week marked the fourth anniversary of their opening in October 2016.

“I don’t think we’re going to see anything like the sort of operation we had before — where we had full classes — until there’s a vaccine and herd immunity,” he said. “That’s over a year away I think. Luckily, we don’t have to rely on the studio to provide family income. As long as it breaks even or doesn’t lose too much, we’re okay.”

As for how the government of Virginia can help businesses like theirs during this time, Ryder said leadership is key.

“There’s not a whole lot Virginia can do other than continue to lead the way in making sure that the policies that come out of Richmond are as smart and as safe as possible,” he said.

To sign up for a virtual or in-person class, visit www.monarcainflight.com. Note that enrollment for new students may be limited at this time.


“If someone is having their first experience with flying trapeze, we wanted it to be just as good as it would’ve been before Covid.”

In part four of the Covid Chronicles, we’ll hear from Mandy Keithan, general manager at the Trapeze School of New York (DC) about the school’s journey through 2020 thus far.

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 B. 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.