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Events Test Flights 2019

Test Flights 2019

Curated & Hosted by Ben Grinberg

Jul 1, 2019

2019 Hand to Hand Circus Festival

Runtime TBA

Cost TBA


Monday, July 1st at 7pm

The most skilled and expressive jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists in the region present works-in-progress at this special circus edition of scratch night. Curated and hosted by Ben Grinberg, the evening will feature four to six short performances by local companies and artists, offering an inside look at the future of contemporary circus. Join us as we celebrate risk-taking cross-pollination of circus with other art forms.

Featured performers at Test Flights include Open Ring Circus, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Tribe of Fools, Mark Wong, and Macy (Mae) West.


Feature photo of Sasha Harrington & Andrew Adams by Steve Sarafian

About Ben Grinberg

Working at the intersection of contemporary circus and ensemble dance theatre, Ben Grinberg is a Philadelphia-based performing artist, director, and educator.  He is the Artistic Director of  the internationally touring physical performance ensemble Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. The company is also a Barrymore award-winner. He is the Artistic Coordinator and Theatre Instructor at Circadium, the nation’s first certificate granting program in contemporary circus performance. Grinberg’s work has been presented by FringeArts, New York Live Arts, Bill T. Jones, the Mexico City International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Ars Nova ANT Fest, 171 Cedar Arts, and more. A graduate of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training and of the University of Pennsylvania, he is on Faculty at the Pig Iron/UArts MFA in devised performance and has often collaborated with Pig Iron Theatre Company, Theatre Horizon, Eiko Otake, and Jaamil Kosoko.

About the Artists

Skein of Heart by Brian Sanders’ JUNK

Enter/Exit the broken way. Always right? The metal is transparent and the softness of heart urges you forward. Find your way through a labyrinth of ugly human/beautiful monster. Part maze, part performance, part musical homage—a cryptic love. Those who enter the Skein of Heart do not leave as they came. Upcoming performances in the 2019 Fringe Festival.

Photo by Jack Kavanagh

Coated: 1944 Hartford Circus Fire (Excerpts) by Open Ring Circus

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Hartford Circus Fire, Open Ring Circus created a 90 min show which combines circus acrobatics, theater, dance and original sound design. With support from the Connecticut Art’s Council and the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, the collective has focused the past 9 months on researching the event and creating a show that holds space for the fire that echoes throughout Hartford’s history. This winter, Open Ring spent time exploring archives of the 1944 fire at the Hartford History Center and the Connecticut Historical Society. They also interviewed survivors and community members deeply affected by the fire. This research has helped them navigate this tragic event and pay respect to this disaster that heavily affected the Hartford and American circus communities. 75th anniversary premiere in Hartford CT, July 12th at Charter Oak Center. Philly Fringe Festival performances at Secret Circus. NE Tour, September–November.

Photo by Steven Weisz

IndestructAble Flowers by Mark Wong

Mark’s work is rooted in the movement vocabulary of Breaking and social dance, blending action with storytelling. IndestructAble Flowers premiered as a duet with Lily Kind at the 2018 Fringe Festival. Mark is creating a full-length dance theater duet “You are not a Shining Star” to be performed in the 2019 Philadelphia Fringe.

Photo by Terry Brennan

Operation Wawa Road Trip by Joseph Ahmed with Tribe of Fools

After their father’s death, Lee and Joey have stolen his ashes and set off from Dayton, OH to Philadelphia to spread his ashes in a “meaningful place” – the Wawa parking lot. Driving the PA Turnpike at night they encounter night yard sales, ghost janitors and a Sheetz vs Wawa brawl. Operation Wawa Road Trip is a fast-paced comedy about grief, sibling rivalry and where “Home” is. Upcoming performances in September.

Photo by Joey Warner

Love & Recovery by Mae West and Ally Wallace

Love & Recovery is an ongoing project exploring human connection, the process of self reflection, and the use of coping mechanisms. Inspired by Ally Wallace’s release of the Love & Recovery EP (via her musical persona, Ally & the Walrus) combined with the movement and circus explorations of Mae West, this duo delves into research around what it means for those that have experienced trauma to change the strategies they use for comfort. When do coping mechanisms become more detrimental than helpful and how do we recognize when our actions may need to change?

Happy Hour on the Fringe

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, we had drinks with Ben Grinberg, Artistic Director of Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, instructor at Circadium and Pig Iron, and the curator and host for Test Flights, a circus scratch night. Join our conversation about how Ben found his way into circus, the growth of contemporary circus in Philadelphia, Almanac’s 5 year anniversary celebration season, and a teaser for who you may see at this July’s Test Flights! Read the full transcript on the FringeArts Blog or listen below.

About Hand to Hand

FringeArts and Circadium School of Contemporary Circus present a multi-day festival of contemporary circus arts. Featuring performances on the FringeArts stage and outside in the Haas Biergarten, Hand to Hand brings remarkable levels of artistry and ability together for a thrilling long weekend of events, perfect for the whole family. Performances and workshops include acrobatics, aerials, clowning, juggling, and everything in between. Read more about the other Hand to Hand events below:

Pss Pss
Compagnia Baccalà
June 28–30

Two modern-day clowns take the stage for an hour of breathtaking physical comedy, acrobatics, and aerial work.


Circus Midway

Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
June 30, 11am–3pm

Learn the basics of aerial acrobatics, juggling, plate spinning, and tight wire at this day of free outdoor workshops and performances.


Learn more about the history behind contemporary circus on the FringeArts Blog!

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