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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia School of Circus Arts’

Almanac Presents Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes

Posted June 8th, 2015

“We want audiences to be engaged in every moment, but we also want them to feel like anything can happen at any moment.” 

JennaSpitz-1What happens when we trust too much? Come see Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes to find out.

Philadelphia’s Almanac Dance Circus Theatre brings Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes to the ecclesiastical confines of the Sanctuary Space at Fleisher Art Memorial, June 24–28. This is the company’s second full-length undertaking, after last year’s Communitas. Almanac is the resident company at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts and are artists-in-residence and Mascher Space Cooperative. Early stages of the show began with a residency in Montreal with Cirque du Soleil’s Jerome Le Baut and Cirque Eloize’s Robert Bourgeoisie.

Mixing acrobatics, theater, circus, dance, and music, Leaps and Faith and Other Mistakes tells the story of four hobbyists who form an isolationist seafarer cult. Through powerful levels of trust, exceptional acrobatics, and the help of their trusty sofa, the four individuals journey to a greater world. The show is created by performers Nicole Burgio, Nick Gillette, Ben Grinberg, and Adam Kerbel, along with writer Josh McIlvain of SmokeyScout Productions and music by Patrick Lamborn, who also performs live. We gathered a few of the Almanac gang—Ben Grinberg, Nick Gillette, Adam Kerbel—to talk to them about their upcoming show!

JennaSpitz-4FringeArts: What’s this show about?

Ben Grinberg: It’s about what happens when we trust ourselves, and those around us, too much. It uses partner acrobatics, which demands levels of physical trust that would be insane to normal people—even sometimes those in committed relationships—as a lens for this. What is the difference between that kind of conviction and the convictions of a religious zealot? A cult-leader?

Nick Gillette: It’s about four people taking the hard road towards something bigger than themselves. Each one of them has an individual reason to leave everything behind for a new world.

Ben Grinberg: Oh yeah, the play is about the four of us forming an isolationist seafarer cult, leaving the world behind, taking new names, and freeing ourselves.

FringeArts: With a little less than 4 weeks to go, what are you working on to get the show ready?

Nick Gillette: We’ve created a ton of material and now have the task of sorting it into a cohesive whole. Much of the next few weeks will be spent ordering scenes and acrobatic phrases and seeing how it feels as a whole piece. With so many facets and modes of performance, we want to really craft a satisfying ride through the different styles.

Ben Grinberg: For this piece, we want audiences to be engaged in every moment, but we also want them to feel like anything can happen at any moment. To do that requires a lot of sculpting.

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Montreal’s FAQ Circus Collective is Coming to Germantown and Now You Know

Posted August 8th, 2013

IMG_0962 - CopieThe circus arts are alive and well and Frequently Asked Questions Circus, an American contemporary circus collective based in Montreal, is transporting their exhilarating blend of modern and traditional techniques to Philadelphia this weekend to make sure you’re in the know. A consortium of friends, classmates, and co-workers, each member uplifts their extraordinarily unique physical abilities–acrobatics, aerials, juggling, clowning–as a medium for deeply personal storytelling. Aiming to stretch, bend, and break the conventions of what goes on under the big top, FAQ Circus delves into every avenue of performative spectacle  from contortionist tricks to trapeze work to Chinese hoops to dabbling with cucumbers. Presented by the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (5900A Greene Street), the company enlightens Philadelphia audiences to the exciting, transformative nature of circus with their debut production, Now You Know, showing this Friday at 7:30pm and Saturday 2:30pm and 7:30pm. FringeArts had a chat with co-creator/manager Lindsay Culbert-Olds to get her perspective on circus arts, the mission of FAQ Circus, and what’s in store for the show.

FringeArts:  How did this all get started?

Lindsay Culbert-Olds: FAQ started as a group of all American circus performers who were raised in American youth circus programs and ended up moving to Montreal for a higher level of circus arts that was there that we hadn’t found in the US. We all had a dream of performing in the US, but because of the lack of circus culture we all ended up in Montreal. As FAQ, we want to come back to help a larger circus culture grow in the US.

FringeArts: Why call yourselves Frequently Asked Questions Circus? 

Lindsay Culbert-Olds: We thought for a long time about what to call ourselves, and then we all settled on Frequently Asked Questions because when people find out we do circus, there are always these frequently asked questions . . . “Oh, you’re in the circus, what is that like? Are there lions? Is there a tightrope?” Frequently Asked Questions reflects the goals of the company. We want to answers those questions, and we answer them by the way perform.

FringeArts: What was the creation process like, reconciling with traditional and contemporary modes? What can we expect the result to be at the show?

Lindsay Culbert-Olds: We all grew up in the traditional circus style and want to stay faithful to those things we love–there is trapeze, tightwire aerials, acrobatics, and there are clowns. What we found in Montreal was all types of dance-based circus, theater-based circus. We want to do something that’s not just for tricks, but still have that joyful entertainment value. We worked together all year experimenting. In the show, individual members will each have a number. What we want to do is portray ourselves and our stories with circus arts. Although we don’t have a director, we are a group of people working together, and we want people to see cohesiveness, how much we love circus, and just how proud we are of what we do.

Thanks Lindsay, excited for the show!

FAQPhilly2

Buy your tickets!

Philadelphia School of Circus Arts

5900A Greene Street

Shows Friday, 8/9/13 at 7:30pm and Saturday 8/10/13 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Check out the video below of FAQ doing their thing!

-Maya Beale

Sarah Muehlbauer Takes Plasticity and Memory Up in the Air

Posted August 3rd, 2012

Not quite the ouroboros, but pretty close.

Sarah Muehlbauer is a textile artist. And a performance artist. And a painter, and a gymnast, and a yogi, and an aerialist, and a writer. All of which, of course, suit her well for the 2012 Philly Fringe, where she’ll debut her first major piece as a director: WAMB, with her collective, SnakeEatTail. Trained as a visual artist, with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Sarah says that performance and physicality has always tied her work together.

“I think sculpturally about the body,” says Sarah. “I’m very tactile, physical. I’ve always had a movement practice.”

Sarah initially went to Madison to pursue a fashion design program. “At the end of the day, I was very dissatisfied with it. Drawing was hitting a note for me and challenging me in a way I can’t even explain.”

She changed to study painting at Madison, because, she says, “It was the only department you could get studios through. But we were encouraged to explore, so I did video, and explored performance there.”

Moving to Philadelphia in 2008, she met with a lot of upheaval, and an expansion of her interests into aerial performance. At the end of Sarah’s first semester, the Tyler School of Art relocated from its location in Elkins Park.

“The Tyler move pushed collaborative work. It pushed me to make work that wasn’t just out of my studio,” Sarah says. And while a friend suggested she consider aerial work, when she drove her Penske rental down from Madison, she had no idea that her new place in Germantown was only three blocks away from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. She took movement class there at first, but says from the get-go, “It was obvious I wanted to be up in the air.”

And perhaps most dramatically, the first weekend after Sarah started her studies at Tyler, she left town to present her first major show—at the Smithsonian.

After the jump: video from the Smithsonian performance, we talk about the stuffness of stuff, and about Jung and yoga.

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