Go Deeper 2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Circus arts and acrobatic theater

2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Circus arts and acrobatic theater

Posted September 6th, 2016

Philadelphia has become a hub for forward-thinking and stunning works of circus art and physical theater. Check out some of the 2016 Festival’s offerings of performances that push movement to new and exciting extremes!



Raphstravaganza The Kinetic Experience @ Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard Raphael Xavier

Leading hip-hop artist and 2013 Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier will bring together masterful street performers, extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music for Raphstravaganza: The Kinetic Experience, a contemporary circus-style performance in City Hall’s courtyard. Featuring jazz composer Bobby Zankel. More info and tickets here.


exile body

Mark Wong, Nick Gillette, Ben Grinberg, Lauren Johns, and Nicole Burgio (photo by Kate Raines)

Exile 2588 @ Painted Bride Art Center
Almanac Dance Circus Theater

Exile 2588 is an acrobatic folk-music space epic adaptation of the story of Io set 572 years in to the future. Smashing together the genre of space epic with the sweet strains of American folk music, Almanac’s physical vocabulary swells to include break dance, static trapeze, and ever more innovative ensemble acrobatics, asking timeless questions about mortality and how much control we have over our bodies. Almanac’s signature style of physical storytelling, dance, and circus will be accompanied by an original song cycle by Chickabiddy (Aaron Cromie and Emily Schuman). The piece is outside eyed by Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Dan Rothenberg. More info and tickets here.

surface tension

Lee Thompson and Lauren Rile Smith (photo by Michael Ermilio)


Surface Tension @ Christ Church Neighborhood House
Tangle Movement Arts

How far can you see beneath the surface? Tangle’s acrobats explore life’s hidden currents and push through the forces that pull us together. Merging circus arts with theater, dance, and innovative storytelling, Surface Tension uses trapeze and aerial silks to dive into a world of fixed points and sudden changes. More info and tickets here.

Matador @ The Collective
Ethos Physical Theatre Company


Rachel Helton, Colleen Jacob, Forrest Shamlian, Justine Parks, Natalie Babcock, and Jonathan Fortes (photo by Michael Ermilio)

A Mexican fairy tale about a fearsome Matador and his Godless bull. The show features an impressive display of physical bad-assery including static trapeze, nunchuck dance and acrobatics inspired by Lucha Libre. This impossible story of romance, trust and belief proves that love really is the bloodiest sport of all. More info and tickets here.



Bill Forchion (photo by Elsie Smith)


Billosophy: life, circus, death @ Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
Bill Forchion

In between life and death, there is circus. Billosophy is a magically fun journey through the life of Ringling Bros. clown, Cirque du Soleil acrobat, U.S. Park Service lifeguard, ordained minister, father, and friend Bill Forchion. You may laugh, you may cry, each performance is guaranteed to make you feel. More info and tickets here.


Grounded Autonomy @ The Glass Factory
Garrett Olthuis and Sean Green

grounded autonomy

Maria Artim, Garrett Olthuis, Kat Petronaci & Sean Green (photo by Sean Green)

Explaining the inexplicable pull of another person, and redefining what that means to you. Going against the grain, or in this case Gravity, and overcoming judgement and questioning to not only capture moments in time, but to reemerge better than before. Disapproval from family, friends and even from within yourself. SkyDance Philly is a collective of emerging performance artists interested in exploring movement beyond the ground. Pushing the limits of the physical body and taking their audience to their creative ether. Combining classical circus acrobatics with organic motion, they showcase the universal human possibilities and forge a full spectrum view of the world. More info and tickets here.

linear default


Linear Default @ Conwell Dance Theater
3 Pony Show / keila cordova dances

A rope, an audience, and a stage full of dancers. What is the connection? Linear Default engages us with sequences, where variables alter both sides. Keila Cordova creates with “a fusion of style and subject matter capable of yielding a wide variety of aesthetic experiences and meanings” (Philadelphia Inquirer). More info and tickets here.



Christine Morano and Rachel Lancaster (photo by Brynna Raine)

Spherus @ Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
Greg Kennedy – Innovative Juggler

Updated for this year’s Fringe, Spherus: a trio-show featuring international juggling champion Greg Kennedy, complemented by aerial dancers, Rachel Lancaster & Christine Morano. In collaboration with video-projection artist Jeff Bethea, multimedia effects enhance venue installation, juggling sculptures & acrobatics. More info and tickets here.