"But Circus Isn't Dead ... We're Coming"

"But Circus Isn't Dead ... We're Coming"
John Ringling North II, Keeping Proudly Alive the House of Ringling

Friday, January 31, 2014

Korean Five-Somersault Claim: Genuine Trick or Flashy Stunt? Doc Filmmaker Disputes Boast as "Assisted Quintuple"


The impossible on the high flying trapeze -- five somersaults from fly bar to catcher, remains technically impossible.   You may prefer to embrace what just occurred in Germany as a formidable advance in the spirit of trapeze art.

You may only find yourself charmed by a very good act full of variety and zest, no matter its lack of adherence to strict and honored traditions.

When the news came through that a North Korean trapeze flyer, Han Ho Song, had just achieved a quintuple in Germany, I was, of course, awed.  I bought the claim without examining the evidence on a You Tube.

At the moment, I was on my out to San Francisco, so I did not take time to look at the video.  And even when finally I did, I failed to see that the flyer, in fact, is hurled out into flight postion by a third flyer anchored to the fly bar.  Which gives this act the look of a combination casting and trap act. Somethng like that.  Would I like to see it?  Of course I would. It at least looks tremendously exciting.

Quad doc filmaker, Phil Weyland, at work on a bio about famed quad champ Miguel Vazquez (The Last Great Flyer), deposited a comment here, wryly calling  the act an "assisted quintuple."  By the filmed evidence, he is surely correct.  Here is his take on the matter:

"It's an impressive acrobatic feat... but not "classical" trapeze in any sense. The "flyer" hangs from a third performer who then flings the "flyer" up into the air...giving the "flyer" additional momentum unachievable by a solo performer".

Whether the circus world will buy the feat as genuine remains to be seen. Doubtful.

One thing is clear, the young flyer does not make the entry flight alone. His achievement is a  byproduct of modern day multi-trapeze configurations, which have infused old patterns with fresh maneuvers.  These days, trap flyers are sailing in every which direction, from all kinds of interesting rigs.  I like that.

On its own, in its own way,  the "quintuple" is a dazzling trick, yes.  Monte Carlo Gold?  My thinking has been challenged. 

And what do you think? Here's the link.

http://circusgeeks.co.uk/2014/01/11/video-of-the-week-quintuple-somersault/


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Judging the Judges, Monte Carlo Circus Festival, 2014: Two Critics Critique the Same Acts, Any Shockers? You be the Judge Now!

(original posting date lost)

 ALB:  Ernest Albrecht, Spectacle
ARR  Liz Arratoon, The Stage, London
MCJ: Monte Carlo Judges’ Awards -- Gold, Silver, and Bronze Clowns

                                    IDENTICAL SCORES

Dessre of Flight - Russian Duo on Aerial Straps
ALB:  10 – Both stylishly beautiful and thrillingly daring ... nothing short of breathtaking.
ARR:  10 – Simply sensational ... This is what circus should be about: skill, beauty, and danger in equal measure.
MCJ:  GOLD

Sokolov Troupe - Teeterboard
ALB:   10 – Executed brilliantly ...supported by Mozart’s music ... what we have is a beautifully realized collaboration of circus and theatre.
ARR:  10 – Thrilling teeterboard act .. [with] a stagey Mozart theme ... a female flyer lands cleanly on a three-man column without the aid of a lunge.  It is breathtaking.
MCJ:  GOLD
           
Wuhan Acroatic Troupe - Trampoline and Risley
ALB:   8 – The most unusual act in this or any other festival was a.complicated combination of trampoline and risley ... flyers were propelled to the topmost section of the revolving arm where they were caught in the classic risely position.
ARR:   8 – Truly dangerous an daring act ,,, but with ugly equipment and costumes and bombastic music, this seems ill-considered.
MCJ:  SILVER

Alexandra “Sasha” Pivaral - Contortion
ALB:   8  – Amazingly fluid moves and poses ... fast and extreme.
ARR:   8 – Pure class ... many unique moves without a hint of arm wobble..
MCJ:  BRONZE   

Rosi Hochegger - Dogs and Comedy Horse
ALB:  8:  – Had me smiling throughout ... presented with a mimimum of human intervention.
ARR:  8: – A whale of a time.
MCJ:  SILVER

Mike Leclair and Karen Bourre - Have a Ball Duo
ALB:   8  –  Enormously charming.
ARR:   8  – Superb ball-balancing display ... They also throw in some neat dance moves.
       
Vlad Kostenko and Anton Savchenko, Duo Kvas - Strong Men Hand to Hand
ALB:   5 – A class version of the act made famous by numerous other pairs.
ARR:   5 – Great exponents of the art ... Hand-to-hand act is so familiar you feel you’ve seen it all before ...all a bit to clinical.
MCJ:  BRONZE

Kolganov and Belogorlov, and Munoz Trio, Clowning
ALB:   0  –  They never drew any laughs.
ARR:   0   – Wearying antics ... Neither is funny.  Enough.


            IN CLOSE AGREEMENT

Duo Suining Troupe - Hand to Hand
ARR:   10  – Astounding strength and balance in an overly melodramatic number ...[ finale] brings down the house.
ALB:   9  – One of the most impressive displays of strength and balance ... enhanced by Zen-like chanting.
MCJ:  SILVER

Troupe Dobrovitskiy - Aerial Casting
ARR:  8 – All manner of somersaults, pirouettes, and layouts ... most attractive and entertaining.
ALB:  7 –  Most impressive were several passing leaps in which two flyers passed each other in midair, between catchers ... [flyers were thrown back and forth] as if they were rag dolls.
MCJ: SILVER
       
Vavilov Troupe - 7 male acrobats
ALB:   7 – The flyers were propelled from the ground to a swinging elevated platform and then flipped off ... eight girls helped dress this act which had a zombie theme, lots of gory makeup and decaying costumes.
ARR:   6 – It’s all a bit messy and frantic.

Eliza Katchatryan - HighWire
ALB:   7 – Seemed to make a big impression here ... the oddest part of her act was the tiny air blower stationed at one end of her wire [giving the impression] she were a high fashion model on a photo shoot.
ARR:  6 –  [in pointe shoes]  she is limited in the number of ways she can move ... [her tricks] are inevitably a bit similar.   
MCJ:   BRONZE   
           
Tom Dieck Jr. Tigers, Ligers and Lions
ARR:   7  –  Looking super smart, he zips his [animals] through the customary rollovers, hind leg walks, leaps and sit ups but then adds an open-sided metal drum that rolls like a wheel of death.   
ALB:   6  – A very fast paced act with only a few other tricks.  Its greatest problem was the layout of the ring [some of it ] blocking the audience vew.               
MCJ:   BRONZE 

Robert Murgaine, Contortion Dancing
ARR:  7  – It may all be very clever and although he causes a storm ... he’ll never have universal appeal.
ALB:  6  – The strangest act of all ... a grotesque eccentric contortion dancer ... proves there is still room in the circus for the seriously bizarre.
MCJ:  Special prize for break dancing.
           
            A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

Vinicio Canastrelli Togni -  24 Liberty Horses, 6 ponies
ALB:  10  – The one [act] most worthy of a second viewing ... circling the ring in concentric circles in opposition ...an experience one is unlikely to encounter again any time soon.
ARR   8 –  Organization is marvelous, but how much better to see them running naturally than walking on hind legs or jumping all hooves off the ground.
MCJ:  SILVER


Faltyny Family - Unicycles with Slack Wire [one of three of their acts I am looking at here)
ARR;   8 –  Amazing balance skills.
ALB:   6 – A fairly routine act except for ...[a]  woman balanced on a slack wire held between the two men on giraffe  unicycles.                   

David Burlet - Comedy Plate Spinning
ARR:   7 – Has built his nippy act round a comedy of errors .... His timing is spot on.
ALB:   5  – Strangely devoid of the kind of hysterical humor that usually characterizes such an act.

Daring Jones Duo - StaticTrapeze
ARR:  8 – Fast paced, beautifully costumed and choreographed ... with no safety measures, they nip through a series of casting and catching, drops and feet-to-feet catches set to jazz age music.
ALB:  6   – They received little attention ... music did not support the final trick, which left them with a flat ending.
       
Joe Gartner Family - Children with Indian Elephants, first routine:
ARR:   6 – Eight very young children ...the third New Generation Circus festival [upcoming] would have suited them better.  However, they all show great maturity.
ALB:   4 – Very youngest members ... attempting to be vaulted [onto an elephant] ...the ring was crowded to the point of chaos.

Joe Gartner Family - Second routine with Elephants Tableaux, second routine
ALB:   8 – A blindfolded elephant ...elephants wore futuristic head gear and created several interesting group poses.  No bull hooks were used by anyone, anywhere in the act.   
ARR:   6 – The close relationship between humans and animals is obvious.”
MCJ:  (overall grade for their appearances) BRONZE
                       
                      MARKED DISAGREEMENT            
   
Hans Klok - Illusions
ARR:   8  – One of the night’s most entertaining spots ...the master of speed-substitution stunts ...so showbiz, so slick, so quick, ... you can’t help but buy into his shtick.
ALB:   5  – One illusion after another in an overly familiar style heavy on the s and m ... almost every one of his illusions was baed on the same escape and replacement technique.
MCJ:  SILVER
                   
Anastasia Makeeva - Double Aerial Loop Cloud swing
ARR:   8  – Most stylish act of the night ... she executes any number of flexible posses, again with no lunge... hearts stop when she slides serenely into the splits, supported only by one foot in either loop.
ALB:   5 –  Less impressive than her [eight female dancers) introduction.
MCJ:  BRONZE           

Conchi Munoz and Gary Jahn - SEA Lions
ARR:   8  – With very commands from the trainers, these experts slickers do most everything from from balancing beach balls to walking on their flippers, and are warmly received.
ALB:   5 – An act that held little surprise, and like some other acts, seemed to have no real ending.









Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Morning with Liz Arratoon at Monte Carlo Circus Festival 38: Premier Critic Grades the Jewels


Her incisive reviews appear in London's The Stage.  She might be the most discriminating circus critic on the planet.

On balance, reading through Liz Arratoon's review of the just presented Monte Carlo Circus Festival, her quibbles seem less pronounced and fewer in number, lending the impression that this was one of Monte Carlo's best campaigns.  In conclusion, she writes,  "This year the jury, headed by Princess Stephanie, was spot on with the Gold Clowns awards, which went to the wildly popular Desire of Flight and the Sokolov Troupe".

Here are a few excerpts from Ms. Arratoon's critiques of the acts.  The subheads are mine. 

I have saved the best part for last.  You who believe in circus as in circus as in ring as in tent as in circus -- you will have hour profound faith affirmed. 

America, Take a Bronze Bow!


All of the following text is by Liz Arratoon; subheads by myself

Yet another American in the festival is the neat and strong hand-balancing contortionist on canes Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Pivaral.  Squeal with excitement because with high skill and a gorgeous crystal-encrusted black/gold costume this is pure class. Her extreme flexibility allows her to strike many unique poses without a hint of arm wobble, and she even seems to be able to rotate her knee joints. Fixed on one arm, she shoots an arrow from a bow with her feet, and ends by revolving on a mouth stand in a Marinelli bend


Technically Stillborn 

Ukrainian acrobats chunky Vlad Kostenko and slight Anton Savchenko make up the Kvas Duo. It is slightly unfortunate for them that this type of strong-men hand-to-hand act is so familiar you feel you’ve seen it all before. They are great exponents of the art and their head-to-head finale is extraordinary, but it’s all a bit too clinical.

China Rising, Still

China’s equilibrist duo from the Suining Troupe display astounding strength and balance skills in an overly melodramatic number on a platform bounded by two flights of pedestals. Flashing from arm to arm in a one-arm handstand or balancing one-armed on a tower of boxes are impressive but the finale of jumping down and up the steps on one hand and then descending while one balances on the other’s neck brings the house down.

Showmanship Express

Klok has the sense to change his whole act and although it’s essentially the same trick - box-jumping - dressed up differently it is great entertainment. He’s just so showbiz, so slick, so quick and his assistants so feisty you can’t help but buy into the schtick. His final escape suspended upside down between the jagged teeth of two saws that will skewer him when a burning rope breaks is pure James Bond.


Great Content,  Klutzy Staging 

Sometimes aesthetics get lost in the drive for circus innovation and the forced mix of trampoline and Risley skills from Wuhan’s Acrobatic Troupe is a case in point. In this truly dangerous and daring act two platforms revolve like opposing clock hands next to a trampoline, which bounces the young flyers to the feet of the catchers, who then foot-juggle them. But with ugly equipment and costumes and bombastic music, this seems ill-considered.

Tin Clowns

The evening’s clowning includes wearying antics from the Nikuline Circus stars Kolganov and Belogorlov, and the lengthy traditional bonbon routine of the Munoz Trio. Neither is funny. Enough said.

Return of the Seals

Then we step back in time with Conchi Munoz and Gary Jahn’s traditional act. Question: what’s black and shiny and can do things most humans can’t. Answer: sea lions Ziggy, Andrew and Nelson. With very few commands from the trainers, these expert slickers do most everything from balancing beach balls to walking on their flippers, and are warmly received.

The True Essence of Circus
 
Russian duo Desire of Flight - Valeriy Sychev in white and Malvina Abakarova in black - are simply sensational on bouncing aerial straps. This act - seen in Phillip and Carol Gandey’s Cirque Surreal - is about total trust as they fly without any safety devices and perform a stunning and seamless series of high-speed moves, including some hair-raising ‘drops’ and catches. The drama ends as she rises on the straps before falling into his arms. There are gasps from the crowd and a standing ovation. This is what circus should be about; skill, beauty and danger in equal measure.

From Showbiz David: Bravo to that!  And Bravo to Princess Stephanie!


Daring young American couple on the static trapeze: David Jones and Rebecca Birge won first rate respect from Ms.Arratoon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The "Extinct" American Circus? Astounding Huffington Post Misinformation Drives Big Top Reporting to New Low ... Monte Carlo Affirms Circus Art Sans PC Apologies ... Paul Binder Honors the Net

If anyone needs evidence of how new media in the digital age is degrading the higher principles of journalism, there could be no better example than a recent piece in the Huffington Post -- "Is the American Circus Industry Extinct or Will it Rise From the Ashes?”


From out of our vulgar past: Circus as "spectacle, illusion, a lot of confusion."

The writer, one Preetam Kaushik, pits a thriving Euro circus arts scene against, as he argues, the very opposite here in the poor downtrodden U.S. The totally ignored Felds and their circus -- remember Ringling? -- should sue for journalistic malpractice.  Kaushik informs those foolish enough to believe that in France alone, there are over 450 circus troupes and 600 schools.  We learn that circus arts are “booming all over the world.”  Except, of course, here.  The notable exceptions mentioned, such as San Francisco's Sweet Can, below, are so obscure as to suggest Kaushik spent too much time talking to the anti-circus academics.     


Sweet Can, founded in 2006, is news to me.  Named by Kaushik as exemplary of new Arts Institution troupes worthy of funding.  The troupe's website announces, "Sweet Can presents the circus performer as a human being."  How cutting edge.

"Spectacle" has long been a dirty word with the "new circus" movement, as are words such as “trick” and “circus act.” American circus spectacle, in fact, brought about the ruin of American three-ring big tops, argues the colorfully clueless Mr. Kaushik.  His report is so ludicrously ill-informed (among its assertions, "circuses are completely banned in Connecticut"), that I will simply leave it there and spare myself and you overindulgence in fret.  

No wonder that old-school journalists rue the degradation of journalism in the digital age.  I now fully understand why the Huffington Post has come in for some harsh criticism.

Douglas McPherson on the Downside of Public Funding

I queried British author and journalist Douglas McPherson (Circus Mania) on the sweeping distortions that underpin the Huffington report, in reply to which, some of McPherson's more pertinent comments:

‘Too many companies seem to exist only to get public funding, so the work is tailored to the political ideals of the funders instead of creating shows the masses might want to see

“As a result most of the subsidized circus (and theatre) I’ve seen hasn’t been very good compared to the commercial sector because almost by definition it has to be uncommercial to qualify for funding.”
I love that remark!   And more ...

“You wouldn’t get a grant for a big top show with elephants and tigers, for instance, because it would be considered un-PC, even though it’s arguably the traditional shows that most deserve preserving as part of our heritage.

“What we are need are showmen with a vision of what the public wants.”

And what we need are fewer writers who haven't a clue, and fewer academics ready to feed them such self-serving drivel.  If I were to believe my local newspaper, the "center" of the new circus movement is right here in Oakland.  Yes, Oakland.  


Far from Oakland: One of the acts at Monte Carlo 2014 -- just to remind ourselves what circus can and should be.

Binder Wimps Out?

In the Huffington article, Paul Binder is quoted.  His words are eloquent, and then he stumbles over his own timidity, PC perhaps but circus, hardly, to which, in part, this:

“Watching an acrobat throw a triple somersault affirms our uncanny ability to look improbability in the face and to jump, knowing that a net will appear."

A net will appear?  Under the new emasculated big top, perhaps, but at the same time, the audience will disappear.   I have never understand Binder's apparent refusal to acknowledge courage as a key component in circus art.  But then again, maybe I totally misunderstand him; this remarkable quote seems to reveal an interior allegiance to safety over risk.

Monte Carlo 2014 Delivers the Goods

Kudos to H.S.H. Princess Stephanie!   I always get tingles looking at pictures of the latest circus festival, feeling a pride for  the circus arts around the world.  Especially do I admire Princes Stephanie’s steady unflinching resolve to keep all performing animals in the competition.  She does not have to grovel for funding.

Don Covington attended, as he will other festivals in France.  He liked what he saw, writing this to me:

“I thought that the jury did a good job this year in selecting the winners.  It is interesting that the two Gold Clown winners both have ties to Big Apple Circus.  Desire of Flight, the Russian couple who performed on aerial straps, was one of the acts in last year's BAC production, LEGENDARIUM.  The Sokolov teeterbord troupe was formed by Dimitri Sokolov after the Kovgar Troupe of teeterboard artists disbanded.  Dimitri and about half of the other acrobats in his new troupe were part of the Kovgar troupe when they performed with Big Apple Circus in PICTURESQUE.”

Oh, what a wonderful shows that was.  Made in America.

Big Apple Circus is still on the road.  So are all the other regulars -- Cole, Carson & Barnes, Vargas, UniverSoul, Kelly-Miller, etc.  Not to mention our still-vibrantly thriving Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.  You might quibble about some of their offerings, but there is still much to see, and still evidence of American invention that once produced the greatest shows on earth that were the envy of the world --- indeed, the coveted destination for Europe's top tanbark talents.

I think a writer like Preetam Kaushik needs to take a break from the classroom, get out into the real world, and rub his nose a little in the free marketplace.   

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Monte Carlo Circus Olympics Showers All its Gold on Russians; Silvers to China, Russia, Holland, Italy and Germany; USA's Sacha Nabs a Bronze for Contortion; Hula Hoops Fail to Score; Peterson Peanuts Barred from Event.

Gold Clown:

Desire of Flight (Russia)  Aerial Straps
Troupe Sokolov (Russia) Teeterboard

Silver Clown:

Hans Klok (Holland) Illusionist
Duo Suining (China) Hand to Hand
Troupe Dobrovitskiy (Russia) Aerial Casting
Vinicio Canastrelli Togni (Italy)  Liberty Horses
Rosi Hochegger (Germany) Dogs & Comedy Horse
Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe (China)  Trampoline Risley

Bronze Clown:

Sacha (USA) Contortion
Lisa Kachatya (Armenia) high wire
Anastasia Makeeva (Russia) trapeze
Duo Kvas (Ukraine) Hand to Hand
Gartner Family (France) Elephants


Tom Dieck (Germany) lions and tigers

Robert Muraine, the only other contestant from the United States, won a special prize for his break dancing routine.  

Thanks to Don Covington for this information


Monday, January 20, 2014

New Board Game Takes New York on eBay: Bronx Bidder Brings Can't Stop Shopping to Town

A Big Apple break for the inventors?


 No, they are not real New Yorkers, but family members during a visit to the town.

Rather exciting,  even if it's not the big breakthrough that my co-inventor Boyi Yuan and I are hoping for. someday.  Maybe.  Before board games go the way of the Model T.

To dream is to live.  Beyond the Board, there is the Tablet, and this game -- the mathematics of purchasing alone, may lend itself to a mobile version.  But first ...

Recently, we started offering copies of our working prototype on eBay for auction, one copy at a time.   I didn't take eBay's advice and begin listing at ninety nine cents.  How humbling.  But the price posted was, yes, closer to ninety nine cents than to ten dollars.

At least we are not desperately handing out free copies, a route that can work.  Think roller blades; that's how they rolled out.

In an auction that wrapped last Sunday evening at 10 PM EST (notice how I favor east coasters, there's a reason), I  upped the starting bid by a buck.  Feared it might bring up a big Zero.  We had one taker. But what a taker --

Drum rolls!  Trumpets!  Buyer's address is the BRONX.  That's New York.  Gotham.  The Big Town.  Taxi Driver.  If I Can Make It There, you get the picture.  Just knowing some real New Yorkers may be visiting our invention tingles my timid pulse.

Of course, who knows why it was really purchased.  A collector?  Fancier of novel ideas just to have around?  Secret operative for a game company, ho ho -- no?

Up Against "Brain Game" Mania

First copy back around October  went to a buyer in Baltimore.  All buyers since (well, there have been a few, okay) live east of the Big River.  Not so surprising. I've long held an impression that board games are still enjoyed (or tolerated) on the right coast. Here in the Bay Area, a new bread of "brain game" nerd goes ballistic over the mere thought of rolling dice.  "Random" marks the spell of death and desertion in this circle.  Which makes me wonder, if I might: Might they live in fear of the cruel heartless random ways of Fate itself?



I read that scientific studies of Poker assert that there is even a degree of luck and randomness in that little game. 

But ours is not totally random, no longer.  Not after nice guy Alex Yeager at Mayfair Games (Settlers of Catan), in taking from me an e-mail pitch offered some encouragement, but expressed being uneasy over his sense of the game's level of  --- yes --- randomness.  Which lead to Boyi and I digging in randomly and moving the game to a higher level -- with the introduction of our world famous (soon to be, in my mind, that is) ACT-ON Coupons, held secretly by each player.  They can foster amusing interaction, encouraging players to ham it up. 

Now with each turn, you the player either roll dice or play one of your ACT-ON Coupons as strategically as you can.  You could enlarge your shopping cart that much closer to victory -- or, conversely, reap damage on a rival's, reducing it to  Dollar Store status.

One thing is certain, now, players face many more challenges in the options offered for making moves in various ways.  Decisions!  Decisions!  Decisions!

Monopoly to chess?

Which makes me wonder if we now have something that starts out feeling a little like Monopoly, but can end up feeling closer to Chess.   In which case, maybe we have half-a-brain game?  

As Boyi said, pointing to his own, "more action there, my friend."

Yes, agreed, randomly or not.

1.16.14

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kinky to Thinky: British Crime Clowns Batter Big Top Buffoon Imagery ... Chicago's Cutting Edge Circus Festival Promises Prime Focus on Intriguing Trends ...Well, Have You Anything Better to Do at the Moment?


Strange Case of Jack the Canvas ripper?   Mr. Poirot, out of retirement, please!  There are demented faces across the perilous pond either posing as circus clowns or ex-circus clowns on a vicious tear —  out there scaring the public to death.  Out there, converting "clown" into "criminal."  Ha?Ha?

Cry, clown, yes, cry!    This time, you deserve a full mental breakdown – but please,  do it with a giggling good pratfall, okay?

Creepy clowny-like faces in Britland terrorizing the public.  Some ride motorbikes; others stalk home windows, brandishing, so go tabloid ticklers, knives and even guns ... Which only ads another layer of fear onto an already Old Circus-traumatized public.  First, the abused animals; now, the abusing clowns.  The fear of them alone , here comes that creepy word --- COULTROPHOBIA -- seen as the motivator in this latest assault on Bozo and his like.  Oddballs, outcasts, and perverted performance artists slapping on gory greasepaint to swell the ranks of the “anti-social clown.”

An epidemic on their hands?   Most perplexing, nobody knows for sure who lurks behind the grotesque makeup, the story closely followed on Douglas McPherson's Circus Mania blog..   "This is doing clowning no favors and is harming society," says Tony Eldridge, secretary of Clowns Int'l.    Police bombarded with complaints of people being creeped-out.

Looks furiously fit for a a Stanley Kubrick sequel:   Clockwork Clown?

Wardrobe under attack.  "I'd like to stress that it isn't against the law to dress up as a clown," opined one police chief.

Kinky to Thinky

Another reason to abandon sawdust  for stage?  More and more, younger circus performers are seeking a saner asylum  in theatre venues.  So many festivals out there in a country, mine, that rarely ever produces a top rate circus act, but — hold your hula hoops! — they are stirring up major festival buzz in the city of Chicago.  This could be the Big One.

Heck, if the weather wasn't so damn Damtrak, I’d be tempted to rail back and check out the scene.  Some of the experimental troupes (they all are) sound at least intriguing.   Event  is aptly titled  Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, and it wraps tomorrow (the 12th). 

Here are a few of the quirky offerings:  Smoke and Mirrors is a company, per reports, "that combines acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and 'some serious heart-string tugging to examine the current state of America in the pursuit of happiness.'"  Said to contain partial nudity Oh, yes, if all else fails, give them a flesh show.  

A few others aiming for Windy City acclaim, their respective Big Themes, just for fun:

*  “A mad cocktail of aerial feats, Cyr Wheel and clowning.”

* “Eight strangers who find themselves in a room with no exit.”  Can you imagine them all being hula hoopers --- or Peterson Peanut vendors?  (Yes, Sir Harry, I couldn't resist)

* “A Scenographic composition that explores the duality of eternity and death, and the human desire to survive.”  Sounds like Cirque du Soleil  on One-Drop steroids.  Let me look closer, to see if this troupe is from Up There (as in Montreal, Kids).  The "composition" is being essayed by one Andreane Leclerc.  That French?

Next year, if the festival continues, I suggest stage space for the rampaging Crime Clowns of London Town -- partial nudity not included, thank you.

***

So, I'm going to try to post this; photos may follow if I make it this far.  Moving from one PC to another owing to Blogger problems.  Hey, sounds like the perfect theme for a  new circus troupe?