Nicole Burgio Shoots For The Moon in Almanac’s xoxo moongirl
The newest show from Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, xoxo moongirl, comes this Tuesday, June 26 to Christ Church Neighborhood House. Fringe favorite Almanac is the company behind Exile 2588 (2016) and Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes (2017), and will appear again in the 2018 Festival with Jeanne/Jean/John/Jawn, a circus extravaganza.
Almanac’s current show xoxo moongirl is an autobiographical solo performance by company member Nicole Burgio, who tells the story of her childhood, which was plagued by domestic violence and abuse. Using many forms of performance art, Burgio confronts her past and, in it, finds hope and resilience.
“I think often times when bad or violent things are portrayed in media and popular culture, they are either communicated about in a very clinical way so that the facts are all 100% accurate, or they can be very graphic,” director Ben Grinberg tells FringeArts, discussing the timeliness of the show amid the #MeToo era. “Using dance, circus, and theater, we can get at all of the feelings and sensations and acts of processing that are messy and not clear cut.”
Grinberg acknowledges the beauty in watching this authentic story in a time when women’s voices are finally starting to be heard, and when violence against these women is being brought to light. “Cole [Nicole Burgio] is brave and vulnerable in showing what her personal experience has been, how she has overcome it, and how the story isn’t over and some things are not resolved,” he says. “Just seeing how graceful, powerful, and strong Cole is, in spite of where she’s come from, will be an inspiration.”
Almanac calls itself “an acrobatic response to stagnation in performance and inequity in society.” It is a multidisciplinary ensemble that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in circus performance and attacks the problems facing our world with honesty and whimsy. Despite showcasing a solo performer, xoxo moongirl was devised jointly by Grinberg (co-founder of Almanac) and other Almanac ensemble members, and it features original music composed and performed by Melanie Hsu.
The piece is especially meaningful because of the time that has gone into its creation, hours put in long before the idea for the show ever came about. Nicole Burgio has been studying gymnastics since age three. After years of training, she earned a master’s degree in clinical and counseling health psychology, and went on to attend the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. She now tours with circus companies internationally when she’s not performing here in Philly with Almanac.
“This is the time for this piece because in many ways, Cole is ready to share this piece,” Grinberg explains. “She’s worked incredibly hard over her whole life…to get to the point where she is ready — uniquely qualified — to share this piece.”
Burgio’s emotional performance tells a story that is sadly not unique to her and her family. Abuse continues to affect millions of people around the world, but this show hopes to uplift rather than depress. Despite living through many challenging years, Burgio refuses to be defined by her experiences, instead deriving strength from them and using her art and her platform to inspire others and instill the strength needed to overcome.
What: xoxo moongirl
When: June 26 – 28, 2018
Where: Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street
Cost: $15 – $25
Performed by Nicole Burgio