Student Spotlight: Director/Actor and Aerial Student Rachel Delmar

Rachel on the aerial silks.

Rachel Delmar has been a SANCA aerial student since 2011. In additional to learning aerial skills, Rachel runs her own Seattle based company, Playing in Progress, producing opportunities for playwrights, actors, directors, & artists to develop new work. She currently teaches at Youth Theatre Northwest.

How did you get into circus?

I actually started doing it back in, 2011, I think? It was one of those things that I had always wanted to do. I’d seen a show, years before, at the Actor’s Gang in LA. They did “Our Town” with aerial silks. In the scene where the two kids are talking from their bedroom windows, they were on silks. As a director and actor, I had never thought of that, and to see a classic piece mixed with this more modern artistry really opened up my brain to the endless possibilities of mixing mediums.”

After seeing the show, when did you start taking classes?

I came back [to Seattle] in 2011, I started taking the beginning aerial at SANCA. Aerial is my happy place.”

What about aerial makes you happy?

When I moved to New York in 2017, I wasn’t really taking care of myself physically, for a lot of reasons, and aerial became the thing that every week I would go to. And I always see progress in some way, whether it’s not being exhausted after climbing twice in a row, or it’s a little bit easier. The cross back straddle has been my kryptonite, and finally when I was in New York, I started to be able to do it. It’s the fact that when I’m not able to do something, if I’m not strong enough yet or I can’t quite process it yet, I still leave happy. I would be doing this every day if I could.”

“It’s a work out and an artistic outlet for me. And it’s something where there is always a place to get better, there’s always more to learn. For me, the workout has been incredible. I have a strong belief, as I’m sure many women and men do, that we are taught a very specific look of what is beautiful, and I love the idea of being (and only recently, honestly it has been a part of my self-growth) of being strong not skinny. The importance of that, that is something that I want showcased in my art, in my life, and in the way that I teach.”

How has it impacted the way you teach?

I teach theatre, all levels. Right now I’m doing kindergarten through second grade at Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island. In warm ups, I always do strength based things. I believe that acting is a full-bodied exercise. You have to be strong to do it. You have to be strong to do eight shows a week on Broadway. Or to get out of the way if something falls! That’s something that I think is important and a good seed to start planting.”

Do you think it’s informed your own acting?

Watching and doing a different kind of art form always influences you. It influences how I use my body, how I put bodies on stage when I’m directing. The capacity of what can be done expands. Recently I saw “Spongebob the Musical.” I was joking with my friend that [it’s not enough] to be a triple threat anymore; you have to be a thousand threat. There were people acting, singing, dancing, and aerial, on skateboards. The art forms all start to cross over and create a really interesting world and play space for all of us.The importance of that, that is something that I want showcased in my art, in my life, and in the way that I teach.”

You’ve had your own company & produced plays. Are you in the process of starting anything?

Not right now, I’m preparing for grad school so I’m mostly focusing on paying gigs and teaching. I am sharing some of my writing at LOUD MOUTH LIT on May 29th. I’m starting rehearsals for the The 14/48 Projects’ Summer Park Show. It’s a show for kids [adult friendly] that they tour around the PNW every summer. It’s new play always written by a local playwright. This year it’s a play entitled, When You Wish Upon a Pizza written by Amy Escobar. Beyond that… you’ll have to stay tuned… I do hope to get a chance to perform aerial for the first time before I head out to grad school so… hopefully I’ll see you at my happy place soon!”

Thanks for sharing with us Rachel! Maybe we’ll see you in the next SASS show!

Check back for more student features! If you would like to share your story with us, reach out to us here.

Thank You for a Wonderful Day of Giving Big!

Your gift for SANCA’s GiveBIG spring campaign brings incredible momentum to expand access to CIRCUS for ALL. Thank you. In just 24 hours you helped to raise more than $17,600 for community circus arts programs.

Your support can be game-changing for our community circus programs. It helps the Social Circus Outreach program, which partners with local schools and community centers — to reach more schools where 40% or more of students receive a free or reduced-price lunch.

And did you know that SANCA’s Hemiparesis Summer Camp works with youth who have partial body paralysis? Through the course of the week-long camp these kids not only learn new circus skills – they learn new ways to work with their bodies while also developing core strength, balance, and grip strength, all in a fun environment with other kids who have similar challenges that they can relate to. It is your support that makes the Hemiparesis Summer Camp possible!

Kids in SANCA’s Hemiparesis Camp use handstand canes to develop core and grip strength.

Kristie, the mother of one of the camp students, shared her daughter’s experience in the camp:

“I can’t thank you enough for offering this camp. It has been an OUTSTANDING experience for Hannah. Last night, she was crying because she didn’t want it to end! She asked if she could take SANCA classes and do SANCA camp every week next summer. I think it was really important to her to be around a whole group (!) of kids with similar physical challenges. Thank you so very much. You will definitely see us in the future!”

Your support also makes it possible to start new programs like Transformational Women’s Circus. Started by Every Body’s Circus coach Amber Parker, this program uses circus as a means to recover from trauma, anxiety, and depression; just as emerging research is showing the efficacy of the use of body-based therapy programs like TWC.

“I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety and standard mental health treatment hasn’t been very effective

“…SANCA has offered me the only therapy that has truly made a difference. In a matter of weeks, I saw greater improvement than in the years before. TWC has been tough and scary and exhilarating and an absolute miracle in my life. This program means the world to me. Through circus and the support of Amber and TWC, I am experiencing healing that I didn’t think was possible and I am deeply grateful.”

– TWC Student

 

 

In addition to these programs, your support makes it possible for more than 800 youth each year to receive tuition scholarships. SANCA has already given $114,591 in youth scholarships to kids who want to take classes during the first five months of 2018. That number will double by the end of the year.

Thank you so much for contributing to support CIRCUS for ALL! We would especially like to thank the SANCA Board of Directors for their inspiring $5,500 Challenge Match, and all our 85 community donors who rose to that challenge and far exceeded it. Thank you!!

Interview with Abigail Munn of Circus Bella!

Starting circus at the age of nine with the Pickle Family Circus, Abigail Munn is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Circus Bella. Recently, Abigail performed several shows at Moisture Festival in Seattle, and coached Giulia, one of the children in La Famiglia Gentile (who were in the spring Artist in Residency at SANCA). I had a chance to chat with Abigail during one of her breaks, and learn a little about her life in the circus.

SANCA: How did you get involved in circus?

Munn: I started when I was nine with the Pickle Family Circus and really I just kept going, studying dance in college [at UC Santa Barbara], I always knew I wanted to come back to circus. I also had a cabaret act and toured with a friend of mine. I always knew I wanted to be a trapeze artist. I remember seeing Wendy [Parkman] on the trapeze, and knowing that I wanted to do that, people also said that I looked like her. Then in high school, I went to the Urban School in San Francisco which also had a circus program.

SANCA: What was it like studying dance in college?

Munn: In college I had the opportunity to do choreography and directing, I always loved putting moving bodies on stage. I still do that at Bella.

SANCA: How did you start your own circus organization?

Munn: It takes a lot of grit and chutzpah! I toured with Zoppe Circus and really wanted to bring a small circus performing company feel back to the Bay Area. My friend David Hunt and I got a gig at a winery and was able to use that bit of money as the seed money to get [Circus Bella] started.

SANCA: You were recently in Seattle for Moisture Festival; do you usually stay in the U.S. or perform internationally?

Munn: I feel a commitment to stay in the United States. A lot of people decide to perform in Europe. For me, I feel the importance of creating art in the United States. We need it desperately. Circus is universal. You can be any age and speak any language but the magic of doing a trick in the ring is something we can all understand. Especially for our circus, the shows are free. It creates this opportunity for neighbors to sit next together at a show, they might not know each other but then they’re laughing together. Circus brings people together.
Also, we just have a really robust company, and it’s expensive to try to pack everyone up for a touring show. There’s so many places to perform in the Bay Area so with the economics of touring, it doesn’t seem viable to do without making it a much smaller show. But we have been able to ravel a little bit. Last summer we went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to perform on the National Mall for a week and a half, representing the Bay Area which was very exciting. We also once got to perform in Japan, but the Bay Area is where we’re based.

SANCA: What advice do you have for people who want to get involved in circus or who have been doing circus but haven’t started performing?

Munn: Stick with your heart and don’t try to copy anyone else. What’s wonderful about circus is the individuality of the acts. My best advice? Make an act! It can change over time, but make an act and live with it over time. It can take years to make a really good act, so be in it for the long hall! Make sure it has a beginning, middle, big trick, and end. Make an act!

I see so many youth programs that give them so much time to roll around and experiment but who don’t get out there with a complete act. It’s ok if you’re uncomfortable with performing at first. Especially when I was starting out, performing was uncomfortable. It takes time; you have to have a lot of stage time.

SANCA: What do you think you’ve learned from your years of developing your acts and getting more stage time?

Munn: You have to take your time. It’s all about timing and the power of stillness. The power of stillness is really something you have to learn. And then, knowing the timing and how to work with an audience and play with them; you’re not alone up there! But still focus, when you’re doing that drop, everything has to disappear and you have to focus.

SANCA: Speaking of drops, you have a pretty impressive knee stand to ankle-hang drop (see video above). Care to share how you got that trick down? 

Munn: Learning that skill [from Elena Panova], I started with a belt, and definitely fell a few times. But you learn your points slowly before working up to a faster drop. I squeeze my butt, twist my hips, and flex my feet!

Thank you, Abigail! We can’t wait to see you the next time you’re in town!

If you find yourself in the Bay Area, check out Circus Bella’s calendar so you can catch a show!

Submerged: A Soggy Circus Saga

Plunge into the depths of the underwater world with SANCA’s Professional Preparatory Program students as their one small submarine embarks on a circus exploration of the deep. Join the intrepid captain and crew as they encounter acrobatic fishy creatures, buoyant aerialists, danger, fear, joy and a little floundering along the way.

Guaranteed to leave you drenched with laughter and a water-logged heart. Submerged will feature acrobatics, contortion, aerial fabric, rope, and hoop, as well as dance, juggling, and partner acrobatics. Take a deep breath and dive dive dive!

May 11 & 12, 2018

Tickets at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3232661

Each year our Professional Preparatory Program students create a full length circus show as a capstone project for their nine-month intensive.

The Professional Preparatory Program is a first step towards a career in circus with a specific focus to prepare graduates for further study at a multi-year circus institution for higher education. The curriculum is structured as a rigorous generalist program designed to provide strong foundations in five main areas of focus: Floor Acrobatics, Aerial Acrobatics, Dance, Theater, and Act Creation. The 9-month academic year is divided into five sessions, during which students will first learn a baseline of skills, learn to create acts in specialties of their choice, and, in the final session, participate in the creation and performance of this group show.

CIRCUS for ALL – GiveBIG May 9th

 

Wednesday, May 9th is the last-ever GiveBIG!

The Seattle Foundation is sun-setting the countywide giving day which has served as SANCA’s Annual Spring Fund Drive for the last eight years. In that time, your generosity to SANCA has been phenomenal.

Your contributions over the past eight years have helped to change many lives. Since 2010, with your help, SANCA has been able to:

  1. Provide 4,430 youth scholarships for circus classes and outreach programs.
  2. Work with more than 40 school and community partners, including YMCA Powerful Schools, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
  3. Create innovative and trans-formative new circus programs such as Every Body’s Circus for people who have disabilities; Circus RODA, which combines teaching work-readiness and life skills with circus; and Transformational Women’s Circus to give a safe space to women who are recovering from trauma and rediscovering how to be fully in their own bodies.
  4. Grown our annual student service population from 693 in 2010 to 2,471 in 2017.

In short – your support to SANCA at our spring GiveBIG fund drive has changed thousands of lives for the better. Will you help us one more time?

GiveBIG Kick Off Party at Salty’s!

This year, we are so excited to kick off our Spring Fund Drive with a bash at Salty’s on Alki Tuesday, May 8th, from 6:30 – 8:30pm! There will be live performances, including live performances including piano-man Victor Janusz & saxophone star Medearis “MD” Dixson, circus, an extended happy hour, AND DOOR PRIZES!

Click here to RSVP!

Doulbe the power of your gift – Donate online for SANCA’s final GiveBIG Spring Campaign! We have a goal of $20,000 and with your support we know we can make it. Our generous Board of Directors has put up a $5,500 challenge match. Meeting this match will put us more than half-way to our goal!

Schedule your gift today! All scheduled gifts will be processed on Wednesday, May 9th.

No Gift is Too Small – Dollars for Change!

The Seattle Foundation will make more than $250,000 in Dollars for Change awards to non-profits participating in GiveBIG.

Your gift to SANCA – of any amount – might be boosted by a $2,500 Dollars for Change award!

The more people who make a gift to SANCA during GiveBIG, the higher our chances of receiving an additional $2,500!

Has Circus changed your life?

Let us know! Join us in celebrating CIRCUS for ALL by sharing your story by using the hashtag #CIRCUSforALL!

Transformational Women’s Circus

I got the chance to catch up with Every Body’s Circus (EBC) coach Amber Parker to learn more about the pioneering work she’s doing at SANCA. Amber, a Master’s degree candidate at Antioch University, is integrating her experience in mental health practice, circus, and her academic focus on Drama Therapy to launch the new Transformational Women’s Circus (TWC) program at SANCA. TWC seeks to utilize the power of body-based therapy via circus as a means of recovering from trauma, anxiety, and depression. Amber and the TWC participants took some time to share more about the design of the program and their experiences so far this spring.

“My ultimate goal for this program, beyond exploring how Drama Therapy can be applied in a circus context, is for the women of TWC to attain a greater level of self-awareness, self-efficacy, and self-acceptance. So far, this is what I am seeing happening within each student. Their growth, as a group and as individuals, has been incredible.”

Meeting every Sunday night at SANCA for three hours, and completing homework assignments in their own time, the women of TWC come together to share their stories, learn circus skills, and engage in creative process, all within a supportive group therapy setting. Amber’s work is supported with the oversight of EBC Manager, Alex Clifthorne, MSW, and supervisors at the Antioch Drama Therapy program.

“I found out about the Transformational Women’s Circus serendipitously on Facebook and knew right away that I had to apply. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety and standard mental health treatment hasn’t been very effective. After struggling to make even tiny improvements over the last several years, SANCA has offered me the only therapy that has truly made a difference. In a matter of weeks, I saw greater improvement than in the years before. TWC has been tough and scary and exhilarating and an absolute miracle in my life. This program means the world to me. Through circus and the support of Amber and TWC, I am experiencing healing that I didn’t think was possible and I am deeply grateful.” – TWC Member

Each class follows a general format of one hour of checking in verbally or warming up with games and activities, one hour of engaging physically and learning circus skills, and another hour of cooling down and discussing what feelings, thoughts, and issues surfaced during the session. Drama therapy, and circus specifically, is unique in that spontaneity and body awareness is key to the therapeutic process. Phones and other distractions aren’t allowed, and priority is placed on staying focused on the present moment and physically engaging the body as well as your mind.

“Even though TWC will perform at the end of their program, drama therapy isn’t about theatre, set design, or acting. It is about externalizing the internal, excavating what is inside and bringing it out through role play, improv, and emotional group processing.” Amber says, “The mind-body connection is injured by trauma and the experience of depression and anxiety, and it can be healed by moving the body and learning how to relate to one another in a new way. By leaving time in our sessions for the women in the group to make meaning of their experience of circus and being a group member, I hope to collapse the distance between their minds and their bodies, as well as increase their awareness of how buried feelings inform how their relationships with others and their self-concept.” 

TWC member Generra says, “My experience with TWC pulled me deep into the core of what’s been holding me back from so much in life. Amber, our coach, has carefully nurtured our troupe to facilitate safety among members. We have grown close and care for each other’s well being. We support each lady in their individual unfolding at whatever pace they are at. I am excited about the collective evolution of our group!”

Throughout the program, TWC has guest presenters attending certain sessions to help the women learn new skills, explore their ideas, and support their group work. SANCA’s Founder, Jo Montgomery, has been a regular contributor to the project, assisting with partner acrobatics. Coach Faye Visintainer shared her experience of how circus has improved her mental health, and Cirrus coach Eve Diamond offered her vast experience as a professional performer to discuss how to builds acts for the stage.

Yet another TWC member states, “TWC is helping me tap in to the root of my being and bring it closer to the surface. I am discovering all of the different sides to my personality and connecting them into one whole person. I am learning how to love each part and the whole. One of the gifts TWC has given me is a connection to some amazing human beings who are bravely discovering themselves and finding the strength to support me in my discovery simultaneously.”

Now in their 13th week of group work, TWC is moving towards a cumulative performance in June. The group is workshopping new acts, using partner acrobatics, Lyra, tight wire, juggling, and single point trapeze to tell their stories of strength, challenge, and recovery on the stage. Amber says, “Creating a show, especially one which focuses on very personal themes, is a huge challenge. The women of TWC are working incredibly hard, particularly in that they are facing themselves. From my perspective, learning to be self-loving and self-accepting is the hardest work there is, far above any physical skill. Self-acceptance is a life’s work, and the women of TWC are doing that work, here at SANCA.”

Interview with Tanya Brno (AKA Tova de Luna)

 

With over 12 years of aerial performance experience, Tanya Brno is one of the most sought after aerialists in the PNW. She uses her classical ballet training along with burlesque and theatrical experience to produce her signature graceful, dynamic, and dramatic style. Her clients have included Club Med, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, USC Events, Hendrick’s Gin, Pronghorn Resort, Hilton, Sound Spirits, and Aston Manor. She holds weekly residencies at The Pink Door in Pike Place Market and Suite nightclub in Bellevue. She regularly graces the stage at The Triple Door with The Atomic Bombshells Burlesque and appears in the holiday extravaganza “Land of the Sweets” with Verlaine/McCann Productions. She has passed her auditions for Cirque du Soleil, Dragone Productions, and Cavalia, and has instructed the circus staff at Club Med resorts in aerial arts.

Don’t miss her captivating shows for Moisture Festival at Hales in Fremont on Wednesday April 4th at 7:30pm, Thursday April 5th at 7:30pm, and the festival’s closing show on Sunday April 8th  at 7:30pm.

You’ve worked so many different kinds of gigs, from the Atomic Bombshells and Super Geek League, to corporate gigs. How do you negotiate working with such different audiences?

“I love something about every kind of performance I’ve done, but I’d have to say my favorite kind of performance these days is improvisational. I have a couple of weekly gigs that I am very comfortable choosing a song in the moment and going for it. I love being authentic with my audience, and having the freedom to choose my apparatus, costume, song, and presentation as I am feeling it is very freeing and even cathartic. I use my performance as a place to process things quite frequently. It’s hard to do that when you have a set and themed act you have to do every night no matter how you’re feeling.

“I feel lucky that I’ve had so many opportunities to become versatile in my presentation. There’s always something new to learn or something to be inspired by. You also learn to negotiate going between different types of performance because you are getting paid to do so, and hopefully there’s something engaging about the style that you enjoy, although that’s not always the case. Sometimes it is just a paycheck and you have to just go up and do your job. You find something to pull from. I am very grateful that this is my job and I just try and be thankful for the life I get to live. I always love shows at The Triple Door with the burlesque troupes I perform with because it’s such a great venue and you are really taken care of. I joke that the Triple Door is my second home because I spend four months out of the year onstage there in different productions. I love the burlesque community as well. From my experience, it can be a lot less pressure. I like things a bit more laid back in vibe around me, onstage and backstage, because I can get pretty intense in my own world.

“Yes, and no that my presentation changes, I feel like my natural presentation is very balletic, emotional, and somewhat sensual in nature; these qualities tend to play out in whatever role I take on. Sometimes my characters are more playful and innocent, or flirty, or showgirl-like. You don’t find me playing comedic roles very often, although that’s something I’d like to explore as I go on.”

How do you feel your history has a classically trained ballet dancer has influenced your aerial work? 

“I am very grateful for my intense ballet training; it informs a lot of movement choices for me as well as my work ethic. It never leaves my body. I like the way I move; it feels good to be in my body and to be able to use every piece of it for expression. Ballet dancers are very hard workers; hard on themselves and those around them. You tend to have very high standards for yourself and a high threshold for pain and pushing through discomfort. It’s work later in life to let some of those tapes in your head go. That it’s ok to be human and make mistakes, and take a day off.

“I guess that depends on how you define contemporary performance. I’ve dabbled in performance that was modern dance based, with street clothes or workout clothes for costumes and no sets, but I’m at heart a sparkly, graceful showgirl. I try to bring characters to my ambient sets even in the club or for the dinner crowd. I try and pay attention to what my lighting is, my song choice, the vibe and flow of people in the room, my mood, and choose a song that weaves those things together.”

You work on a unique aerial apparatus, coined ‘aerial spiral’. Where did you first see it or what gave you the inspiration to create it? What do you like about it?

“I designed the aerial spiral in 2011 by taking a sharpie on lined yellow notebook paper and making an approximate shape. I did not see that anyone had created one yet. I had to shop the idea to about 10 different welders before I found someone willing to take it on. It was just a fun idea I had that I wanted to bring to life. I never thought it would be as big as it got. I thought it would set me apart in terms of an act to hire, which has happened as well, but mostly people want to build their own. I get inquiries every day.

“It’s a sculptural apparatus, so you are never doing anything at the upper limits of acrobatics, but it lends itself to bendy people, or very expressive people. It is asymmetrical and the bars are on a diagonal line, so you have to pay attention to where all the gaps are at all times. There are no flat bars or verticals to work with.”

Thank you Tanya! Don’t miss her shows at Moisture Fest!

Finding Your Authentic Self in Circus [An interview with Fafa]

Faeble Kievman, visited SANCA in 2016, joining la Famiglia Gentile in the Artist in Residency program. After finishing a tour with Lewis and Clark Circus, Faeble returned to Seattle to perform their juggling-clown opera, “Carman,” at this year’s Moisture Festival. Infusing traditional and contemporary clown with Chinese jar juggling and other circus skills, Faeble has a unique clowning style. First introduced to clowning through a social circus and the Circus Center in San Francisco, Faeble has performed internationally as well as co-founded their own circus company, “Cirque en Deroute.” 

 

Faeble Kievman’s love of laughter promo. 

When did you discover you wanted to be a clown?

“As a child, I was by myself a lot, so I found this side of me that was very comedic. My grandfather was a story teller and a very funny character; I learned a lot from him. Really, I’ve been clowning my whole life, it’s not like you have to be a funny person to be a clown. If you lived with me, you’d be like this guy’s boring. He’s always got some deep thought process he’s going through.”

Their decision to truly dedicate their life to the pursuit of clowning came after their mother and sister were in a tragic accident in which it wasn’t clear if they would pull through.

At the time Faeble heard about the accident, they were at a spiritual gathering, with other self-identifying “radical queer faeries”. When Faeble returned from the gathering, they learned of the accident and returned to the space of the gathering to pray for them. Eventually, their mother and sister did make a recovery, but Faeble’s sister was left paraplegic.

I realized at that moment that I had a call to continue to make people laugh; that was my path. I wanted to do something that my sister wouldn’t be able to do again. I wanted to carry on with my path in doing clowning in honor of my sister. So there was a lot of tragedy that happened that brought me into doing it. I do believe that without tragedy there is no comedy.

What did you do after deciding to become a professional clown?

I went to school at the [San Francisco] Circus Center. After graduating I created my own clown trio, Cirque en Deroute. We toured around the world for three and a half years, going to circus festivals all over the world like Melbourne [Australia], France, China, Eastern Europe, Central America, and with Le Cirque Starlight in Switzerland. I ended up getting together with my partner and me and my company split up. Since then I’ve worked with Circus Bella (we went to Japan, but mostly stay in the bay area), worked at Zoppe [Circus] as a strong man, and performed with Acrobatic Conundrum in their shows in Seattle.

You’ve been called a philosophical clown, can you share a little bit more about that?

My philosophy [around clowning] is about acceptance. Acceptance of stupidity, of character defects. Acceptance of nature, of reality of the environment around you. So you can actually recognize the themes that are around you, what is happening in the moment. There is an energy between me and the audience, and that energy can be a magic portal. [I] can do almost anything on stage. If I can feel that energy in the audience, that’s everything.”

“…There is this idea of what you think you are, what people see you as, and then what you actually are. Laughter is produced by what you truly are and by what people see you as, but not by what you see yourself as. Being a clown is about being authentic and true to yourself.”

What does being authentic and true to yourself mean to you? 

When I first went to Circus Center, I identified as a trans woman. There’s a reason a lot of trans and queer people make good clowns. Because you understand what it is like to be invisible to the world and still embrace who we are. Which can enable us to be very good clowns on stage. But at the same time, the queer community, just as in the straight world, has its own social paradigm, which can inhibit us as well from being a great clown.

“There is one exercise in clowning where you adopt some kind of gesture as someone else counts off. The numbers go from 1 to 100, and as the numbers go up, you change your gesture to show more and more who you are”: – Essentially exaggerating the expression you originally adopt.

“So we were doing this exercise and I took on a gesture of what I thought felt really natural to me, this really feminine gesture. My hips are out and I’m snapping my fingers. As the numbers go up, I start snapping like crazy, really snapping waving around my hands around, like a bat outta hell. I thought if you had seen this on TV or something it was so ridiculous it would be hilarious. Well, it was dead silent. No one is laughing. This guy yells ‘STOP! STOP! YOU’RE NOT FUNNY! You do realize that no one is laughing right?’ I thought, yes of course I realize that, it is pretty obvious. And he says ‘Look, I know what that gesture means, I know that maybe you felt like it is a gesture that you feel represents you. And in some certain social context, it may work. But in the world at large, it reads as you playing something that is not you.’

“…I was taken aback from that. And it took me a minute to think, ok, maybe that isn’t really funny. For me, what I realized was that I wasn’t being honest. I wasn’t being me. I was being something I thought I should be, which was a huge breakthrough in my life.

“So, I’m thinking of something else to do and for some reason the first song I ever wrote comes to mind. I started choking up as I’m trying to sing it and the guy starts yelling ‘SAY THE SONG!’ I am crying at this point, and he goes ‘you can cry, but say the song! Now do the same thing again, but this time say the song and laugh’. Meanwhile, I’m still crying, in tears. So I start saying the song, and I’m crying.

“…and everyone starts DYING of laughter!

“It was funny, because of the depth, and the emotion was real. It was authentic. It was who I was, and I couldn’t be anything else but that.

“People start laughing, and I get excited and start to perform the song.

“So he yells ‘STOP! STOP! You had it! And then you started PERFORMING.’

“In that moment, I just realized that I wasn’t a woman. It was the first time I realized that and at the same time I was not a man. I was not a man. I am both. I am all of the things…. So I started discovering that when I start accepting who I am, when I can actually accept who I am…THEN I can start to be funny. THEN I can start clowning.”

How did that discovery influence your persona on stage? 

Eventually you want to get to a place that you want to accept the parts that are ridiculous about yourself. Me as a man, I feel uncomfortable in my skin, which made me feel like I was a woman. But that uncomfortability is the very thing we need. In some countries, ego is funny. But for me, when I embarrass myself on stage, that is when I can get to the good clowning; when I am vulnerable.

Any advice to share for beginning clowns?

“I always recommend to people who want to do clowning, go out and street-perform. Once you can get people to stop on the street as a clown, you can do that anywhere. On the street, anything can happen, whereas on stage people are stuck in their seat. But when you’re on the street you have the magic of chaos. A pelican can swoop the hat off your head, or someone could throw something at you, someone can come and start picking a fight with you. Anything can happen. You learn to embrace chaos. You learn to embrace the unknown, the unexpected.”

Thank you Faeble! Have a great drive back to the bay area!

Faeble will soon be leaving their home in Pacifica, CA to perform their one-person clown show in China, and they will also perform with the YiKamen Bros in the Gong Show this May. This Summer they will be featured in Comedy and Common Thread for a show at the Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig.

Good luck Faeble! We look forward to your next visit at SANCA!

Coach Eve Tours with Circus Monti this Summer!

Eve Diamond on Cloud Swing

Cirrus Circus coach, Eve Diamond, will be joining the Swiss traveling circus group, Circus Monti, as they tour Switzerland for their Summer tour. Get to know Eve and her tips for sticking to what you love, even if what you love doesn’t always come easily.

 

To do this work you really sacrifice a lot. In my last year of school, a big job came through and I gave up my house, missed birthdays and funerals. You really do give up a lot to be a part of this work, but it is hard to not do it if it’s something that is speaking to you so loudly.

The year Eve was born, her uncle suffered a terrible motorcycle accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down. The impact of this trauma left an impression on her mother, Marilyn, to get Eve involved in as many physical activities as a possible. Growing up in Boston, she took on everything from horseback riding, baseball, softball, soccer, to field hockey, and eventually circus.

At the age of thirteen, Eve’s mother, signed her up for camp at Circus Smirkus in nearby Vermont.

“I didn’t want to go to circus camp. I was like, ‘that sounds really stupid.’ But then I went…and I became obsessed. I absolutely loved it and almost immediately knew that I wanted to pursue circus.”

After the camp, she auditioned for Circus Smirkus tours for five or six years, but was never quite able to make the cut. So, she took to her own living room and continued to train independently as she prepared for college.

“Nothing existed like SANCA to train circus on your own where I was, so I took gymnastics and practiced in my living room. My dad made hand balancing canes, and I taught myself juggling.”

In her freshman and senior years of college she auditioned for École National de Cirque, but was rejected both times. She focused on her studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Keene State College in New Hampshire with a BA in English and a teacher certification. But she never quit training, and her passion for circus didn’t subside despite setbacks. Soon after graduating she was contemplating a career in academia when she got accepted into a three year intensive training program at Circus Center in San Francisco.

“I was in school six days a week from 9am to 5pm for three years and working with some of the most famous, well respected, internationally recognized coaches which was amazing.…[school] was really painful and terrible, but you knew that the coaches who were training you had so much information that you would do anything to get.”

Graduating in 2011, Eve started performing professionally in her specialty areas of cloud swing and rope. Cloud swing in particular was difficult to train due to the amount of space it requires in addition to a specialized technician. Deciding to pursue cloud swing further, she moved to Montreal in 2013 to train with Coach Victor Fomine, a world expert in cloud swing, at his studio, École Léotard.

Since then, she’s been working with SANCA and training Cirrus Circus students as she has continued to network and build her own brand.

“My job outside of coaching, which has been pretty full time, has been maintaining my acts – training, eating well, taking care of my body, sleeping well. And networking, emailing people, and researching companies I would want to work for. 

No one in this business is just like here, this is what you do. It takes dedication and curiosity to continue to pursue it. It’s really only possible to do this if you have support because it’s lonely and no one is just giving out information. You have to prove yourself to yourself and everyone around you, constantly, so it’s hard. But it’s also rewarding because you seek out a company you want to work for, you open a line of communication and you keep staying in contact year after year, sharing new work you are doing.

“I’ve been maintaining an email correspondence [with Circus Monti] for the past five years. The Gentile’s did Monti, Ben & Rachel [Duo Madrona] did Monti. It’s important to stalk your friends and follow their path. If your friends have the jobs you want, you have to be good enough friends to have someone vouch for you. This industry is so cut throat and super competitive. Everyone is hungry for the same work. You have to just not give up and be consistent.

It’s my first experience touring and working in Europe. Hopefully it will lead to more work, but you don’t know. So you have to just start all over again. Stay in touch, send updated material, and be someone that people want to be around!

…The good part of working [at SANCA] is that they really support you in doing what you want, especially in an industry with such limited job security. 

It’s cool teaching in Cirrus because it’s important to have people who are working in the industry. I am excited to have this opportunity and come back and share my knowledge with the future generation of circus artists.”

Eve on Rope:

via www.eveontheswing.com

 

We wish Eve the best of luck on the road

and can’t wait to hear about it all once she returns!

How to Make Your Own Costume

“I really just make costumes with a Frankenstein approach.” – Coach Milla

Milla Marshall, SANCA’s costume guru, shares tips
for creating unique costumes that don’t break the bank.

Her advice? A basic leotard is a great place to start – giving you the basic construction of your outfit to build on from there. If you don’t already have one, you may want to check out Center Stage Dance Shop in the U- District, or Discount Dance online. A black or nude leotard is a good staple to have in your closet, or your act may call for a more colorful choice.

Things to keep in mind as you begin making your outfit. Pay attention to how you need to move in your act and the specific apparatus you’re using. Circus arts require special attention to fabric and costume bobbles, because your safety comes first and you want to make sure the costuming won’t get trapped in your apparatus.

Corde Lisse & Silks  – You’ll want costume fabric that has some grab to it, so higher cotton blends are a good thing to pay attention to. Fabrics which are higher in spandex than cotton can slip more in the apparatus. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to stay away from those fabrics, just that they require a little more of your own strength to hold you there rather relying on a grippy fabric doing some of that work for you. It is also important to make sure your costume fits snugly against your body to avoid wrapping the costume up in the rope or silks during your act.

You can, check out local vintage and thrift stores and have fun! Get creative with it, and remember that you can always cut out what you like and leave the rest!

And of course Goodwill and Value Village are always your best bet for inexpensive clothing.

Want to learn how to sew?

 

Pacific Fabrics, is a great local resource to purchase fabric and learn techniques for sewing and garment construction. They have short classes, usually just a couple days, to learn everything from basic sewing to garment construction at each of their locations in Bellevue, SODO, and Northgate. You can check out their calendar for upcoming classes here.

 

March 1st through the 4th, Puyallup Fairgrounds is hosting a huge sewing expo, with a large selection of fabrics and over 100 sewing classes held every day. Plus, these drop-in classes are just a couple hours and cost between $6 and $50.

 

Already know how to sew?

YouTube is also a great resource for project specific tutorials. For some acts, you may be able to get away with an elaborate tutu, like the one from this video tutorial Milla recommends:

For Cyr Wheel – wrap skirts can be a good alternative because they are simple to make and show your movement while spinning. Be sure you leave a little extra room above your ankles than in this tutorial so your feet don’t get trapped as you move!

For Trapeze and Lyra – you may want to consider purchasing a pair of trapeze boots, also known as “gaiters,” which are usually made from leather or suede with cut outs for your toes and heels. The material allows you to maintain grip strength for toe and ankle hangs, but protects your actual skin in the process. Each pair is custom made according to the measurements of your arch, ankle, and calf. Because of the materials and custom nature, these boots can run a little pricier, from $130 – $200+, but should last you for years.

Photo from IsabellaMars.com “Classic Black Aerial Boots”

Etsy is a good place to check out multiple shops to find the right trapeze boot for you, but you can also check out AerialBoots.com, and IsabellaMars.com,  for more information on sizing and fit. Just keep in mind both of these companies ship from Europe so it takes a little longer to get your order and you’ll need to convert the cost to US dollars.

I hope this helps you get started with your costume for SASS or future performances!