Author Archives: Jeff

Fund Our FAN! – A campaign to install a ventilation fan in the Flying Trapeze Tent

We just launched our Fund Our FAN campaign to install a ventilation fan in our Flying Trapeze Tent – and I want to send out a huge thank you to our first six donors who took the swing on the first day!

Thank you Velibor Peric, Autumn Sakai, Lori Adams, Kevin Nelson & Raina Domek, Nikki Watters, and David Greenspoon!!

Flying trapeze is a huge part of the circus experience – it’s an amazing confidence builder, an exciting and fun way to overcome fears, and a wonderful way to build team spirit and camaraderie in a non-competitive environment.

Every year at the SANCA School of Flight we:

  • Bring underserved and at-risk youth from communities and organizations like the Broadview Emergency Shelter, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Powerful Schools, and others to experience flying trapeze. In learning to fly, these youth have positive and meaningful experiences with peers and mentors that can be life changing.
  • Give hundreds of summer camp youth a flying experience they will never forget.
    Run classes for more than 3,000 flyers.
  • Hold spring and fall shows with four teams of performing flyers ranging from ages 5 to adult.

We need to ventilate the tent. It is:

  • Too hot in the summer
  • Too damp in the winter
  • Equipment gets damp and moldy and needs extra maintenance
  • Flyers must use a lot of extra chalk to stay dry and safe

A ventilation fan provides:

  • Airflow and cooling on hot summer days
  • Reduces condensation and moisture in the winter
  • Keeps equipment dryer and in better repair
  • Makes the environment safer, cooler, and more comfortable for our flyers
  • A huge savings in ongoing equipment maintenance time and costs

This equipment installation will cost SANCA $13,843 – but your contribution today will help defray those costs and invest in the future of flight for all our students.

By supporting the installation of a ventilation fan, you’re helping SANCA to continue to share the joy of flight with thousands of children, youth, and adults in the years to come.

We can’t do it without you! Please join our campaign today.

Carl Bystrom headshot smThank you!
Carl Bystrom
Interim Executive Director

Social Circus: Community, Empowerment, & Play

shapeimage_2

Article by Ian Jagel,
Social Circus Director

 

There is power in circus.

It is an invaluable experience for the children in our shelter and transitional housing program to have a fun, active, invigorating field trip. The moms in our program are extremely stressed out and overwhelmed with court dates, housing appointments, food banks, parenting plans … the list seemingly never ends. As much as they wish they could provide fun activities for their children, it often isn’t realistic in times of crisis. The field trips to SANCA provide an extremely necessary outlet for the kids’ energy, [and their] desire to connect with safe adults and to try new things. [The] kids had such a sense of pride and accomplishment after they went on the flying trapeze. While a sense of accomplishment is important for every child, it is especially important for kids in our program who have been severely traumatized. Oftentimes, they were around violent or unsupportive parental figures who made them feel like nothing they did was good enough, severely impacting their sense of worth and autonomy. This active, supportive, positive environment was extremely impactful on our community’s most vulnerable children. Thank you so much for your skilled instructor’s support, encouragement, and above all for this opportunity. We cannot thank you enough!
—Kayla Blau, Children’s Advocate, Broadview Shelter & Transitional Housing Program

Ian Jagel works with a group of teens from Refugee Women's Alliance (ReWA).

Ian Jagel works with a group of teens from Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA).

Yesterday’s class was AWESOME! The kids were really into it, and they all seem excited to move forward … The physical aspect of circus is what appeals to most of the kids. The [performance] aspect is much more scary, and it’s the part that I really hope we can get them excited about, since that’s where this program has the potential to be truly transformative … The great thing about this program is that words are supplementary and the body is the primary site of expression, which puts these kids on a different footing than they’re used to.
      — Deepa Bhandaru, Lead Teacher and Program Coordinator, Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)

The feedback from Kayla Blau and Deepa Bhandaru illustrates the transformative power of circus. It is an honor to work with the youth from the Broadview Shelter and ReWA here at SANCA — the circus school with the most regularly enrolled students in the United States. At SANCA we have a unique and exciting opportunity to be leader in the world of circus arts education and part of the Social Circus movement.

Social Circus is an innovative social intervention approach that uses circus arts to assist with participants’ personal and social development by nurturing their self-esteem, and help them to build trust in others, acquire social skills, become active citizens, express their creativity, and realize their potential. Social Circus is a powerful catalyst for creating social change because it helps marginalized individuals assume their place within a community and enrich that community with their talents. In nearly every country in the world, Social Circus programs are developing innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches to positively impact those most at-risk in their communities. Initially a grassroots movement, Social Circus is now a global network.

At SANCA we’re looking to circus programs across the world for connection with the global circus community and asking, “What is the most compelling work being done in circus education? What approaches are most effective in manifesting personal and collective transformation through circus arts? Who can benefit?”

Youth from ReWA learn to juggle and pass rings.

Youth from ReWA learn to juggle and pass rings.

The more we ask, the more we realize that SANCA is already a leader. We are exploring new approaches to the Social Circus movement. Recently, the American Circus Educators (ACE) organization recognized SANCA in their new network of national Social Circus programs that meet the needs of at-risk populations and address social issues such as social isolation, the impact of trauma and violence, and the lack of access to arts and cultural activity.

As we connect with the broader world community of Social Circus, we’re busy cultivating relationships locally. You don’t need to go across the world to find refugees, trauma survivors, or homeless youth — they are all right here in Seattle. We know because SANCA works with hundreds of these kids every year. You’ll see SANCA coaches teaching regular circus classes in community centers and public schools in the Delridge, South Park, Rainier Valley, and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. In these community programs, we’re emphasizing youth development, social inclusion, and physical play. This spring, we’re expanding our ongoing partnerships with more classes and adding Garfield Community Center as a new partner.

Teens from the Refugee Women's Alliance learn to work together balancing and sharing body weight in preparation for acrobatics.

Teens from ReWA learn to work together balancing and sharing body weight in preparation for acrobatics.

Another new partner, the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), is nearing the end of their first session and the participants are collectively developing a culminating performance to share with family and friends. We’re already looking forward to more classes with them this summer.

SANCA’s Every Body’s Circus program is also growing with several new students enrolled. Guided by SANCA coach and licensed Social Worker Alex Daves, we now offer individual and group therapy using circus as a therapeutic medium. To give you an idea of the extraordinary level of commitment to this work, every SANCA employee — about 70 of us — have become certified under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That’s a $5,000 investment to ensure the privacy and security of individuals participating in the EBC program. SANCA is united behind this work.

This is only the beginning — there are countless unexplored avenues of circus transformation. Looking forward, we will expand our therapeutic and outreach work with adults, strengthen our connections with current students, and discover new communities interested in the benefits of circus arts.

SANCA is more than a school — it’s a community made rich by our broad cross-section of students. Thank you for making SANCA the wonderful community that it is!

Meet Julaine – Cirrus Circus Student Spotlight

amber headshot sq

Interview by Amber Parker,
Every Body’s Circus Coach

 

In March our youth performance company, Cirrus Circus, held try outs for students to display their skills and earn a coveted spot in the dynamic ensemble. Cirrus welcomed several new students to the troupe, one of whom is 12 year old Julaine Hall. I sat down with Julaine to talk about her experience at SANCA, her devotion to circus, and this exciting next step in her career as a performer.

Julaine (center) basing a pyramid of Cirrus Circus acrobats.

Julaine (center) basing a pyramid of acrobats.

Amber: How long have you been at SANCA?

Julaine: I’ve being doing circus since I was about two-and-a-half years old and I’m 12 now. I’ve been performing since I was five, and I’ve never taken a quarter off. Not even summer.

Amber: Wow! You’ve been coming here since you were a toddler. Can you remember a time when you didn’t have circus in your life?

Julaine: No!

Amber: You’re having the coolest childhood! So, after you began at age two, what happened next?

Juliane: I started with general circus classes and then I went on to the Amazing Circus 1-ders, then on to the Magnificent 7, and I just got into Cirrus Circus on March 4th.

Amber: Congratulations! That’s a great achievement. So, what do you love about circus?

Julaine: Well, when I was little, before I began at SANCA, my mom tried putting me in gymnastics but they had too many rules. Circus is much more about of the box, it’s more fun. I’ve always loved doing tricks but when I got to perform and make acts it was even cooler!

Amber: What was the first circus skill you ever felt really good at?

Julaine (bottom left) performing with other members of Cirrus Circus.

Julaine (bottom left) performing with other members of Cirrus Circus.

Julaine: Forward rolls probably, when I was really little. Now I can do front flips, back flips on the trampoline, and if I warm up enough, I can do a back flip off the edge of the tumble track. I also do Chinese pole, tumbling, and juggling. Those are some of my strongest skills. Now I’m learning a sequence – round-off/back handspring/back layout/half twist on the tumble-trak, and new tricks on Chinese pole.

 

Amber: What do you think is challenging about circus arts?

Julaine: Well, I’ve never gotten seriously hurt, but if something seems new and scary, sometimes you just have to power through and keep on doing it. That’s a challenge when you’re scared, it’s hard to just do it again.

Amber: What do you imagine for your future in the circus?

Julaine: I think it would be fun to go all the way through Cirrus Circus and then become a circus coach. I really want to be a coach in my 20’s and maybe in my 30’s. I think it might be fun to be in something like Acrobatic Conundrum as an adult. But mostly I want to be a coach and work with kids. It’ll remind me of the good ole days!

When speaking with Julaine, her passion and excitement for circus and her career at SANCA was palpable. It was amazing to meet a young person with so much commitment, discipline, and vision for the future. Julaine was a scholarship student for a period of time while her family dealt with expensive medical bills on a tight income. Because of SANCA’s scholarship program, Juliane did not have to give up with her passion for circus. Her commitment and achievements speak to how vital SANCA’s scholarship programs are in our community.

Community Letter – Spring 2016

2016 Community Letter Header150223_cornicello_0548Spring is here — juggling balls are dropping like rain, smiles are blooming like flowers, and trapezes are swinging like … well, trapezes!

I am happy to report that the first quarter of 2016 has been great for SANCA! Our students, parents, patrons, coaches, and staff have continued to build an amazing family, all of us supporting each other as we discover the places in ourselves and others that are transformed by circus arts.

Our annual fundraising gala was a tremendous success! Thank you to all who joined us on Leap Day or were with us in spirit. Your support helped us raise nearly $200,000, beating last year’s event fundraising by more than $35,000! You continue to validate our direction and commitment to our mission by helping to directly fund SANCA’s increased investment in Social Circus, our Youth Performance Companies, and our ongoing scholarships for youth in Circus Arts classes.

We’d also like to extend our gratitude to our generous friends and hosts at Teatro ZinZanni and our wonderful group of event sponsors. A big thanks also to our performers who carried us on an amazing metaphorical journey from a bleak, black & white world into the vibrant, joyful, and colorful world that SANCA embodies!

Here at SANCA we’re calling 2016 the “year of Social Circus.” Our pilot program with the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) has been a huge success — they’re asking us to expand our partnership to include additional sites this summer. We’re also beginning new partnerships with organizations like Garfield Community Center and the Broadview Emergency Shelter.

Circus 1-ders Twist 2016SANCA’s therapeutic circus arts program, Every Body’s Circus (EBC), is thriving — already this year our EBC student population has grown by 25%. In March, we kicked-off EBC Outreach with two special education classes from the Highline School District, introducing them to the challenge, joy, and triumph of circus arts. Stay tuned — we’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime — read more about Social Circus and our partners in SANCA’s online Spring Newsletter.

Many of you have probably seen a flurry of announcements for our new workshops. These workshops provide higher-level training and specialty skills instruction from SANCA coaches, guest performers, and visiting artists giving students the opportunity to dive deeper into their chosen circus art! Check the Workshop page for a full listing.

Leap into Spring with a class or workshop and celebrate with us! Take an Intro to Circus or “single serving” class or finish out your week with a Friday night Pay-Per-Flight on the flying trapeze! We also have a bevy of performances upcoming: the Spring Festival of Flight, SASS — SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase, and the P3 Demonstration. Come on down!

I have the privilege of being here at SANCA every day, but it wouldn’t mean anything if you, our amazing SANCA family, weren’t here, in person or in spirit, to challenge yourself and grow and help others to do the same.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Carl Bystrom headshot sm

Carl Bystrom
Interim Executive Director
SANCA — School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts

P.S. You can also read or download a copy of SANCA’s Spring Newsletter.

Meet the Harveys – SANCA’s Landlords

Orcas Business Park, owned and managed by the Harvey Family – John, JW, and Michelle – is the largest family-owned property management company in the Seattle Design District. They have leased commercial office, retail, and warehouse space in the Georgetown neighborhood for more than 18 years. John and his son JW are the property managers, and John’s daughter Michelle is OBP’s Director of Finance. They are joined by Shannon Archer, the Office Manager for the business.

The Harvey Family (right to left) - John, JW, and Michelle, along with Orcas Business Park office manager Shannon Archer, celebrate with SANCA at LEAP with a Twist!

The Harvey Family (right to left) – John, JW, and Michelle, along with Orcas Business Park office manager Shannon Archer, celebrate with SANCA at LEAP with a Twist! on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 2016.

When SANCA’s Founders, Jo & Chuck, first approached the Harveys in 2005 about leasing warehouse space for a non-profit circus school, their response was “Are you sure about this?”

SANCA didn’t fit any demographic of renters or business owners the Harveys had ever worked with before, but they were really intrigued by the idea, so they visited SANCA’s original location on 6th Avenue & Lander Street to better understand the kind of organization they might be leasing space to.

When Jo shared her inspiration for starting SANCA – providing healthy, creative activities and access for children with health issues – the Harveys saw an opportunity to become partners in bettering the community, and become part of something bigger than just being a business partner. Jo and Chuck’s passion for SANCA’s mission, and their determination and fire for their cause made a big impression on the Harveys, so they took a leap of faith that a circus school would be a good tenant.

The Harveys’ faith in SANCA paid off. Since first moving in to the building in April 2005, SANCA has expanded from the smallest to the largest of their tenants – taking over two more bays in the building, and expanding to more than 22,000 square feet. In 2009, when Chuck approached the Harveys about building a flying trapeze tent in the next-door parking lot, once again, they asked, “Are you sure?”

Again the Harveys took a chance on SANCA, helping by resurfacing the parking lot to repair the damage of years of semi-trucks being parked there. The Harveys found that it wasn’t too much longer before they were giving flying trapeze a try themselves! Michelle says, “I’d never heard of flying trapeze being so accessible! I tried it out the first year it got started at SANCA. It was thrilling, exhilarating to get caught!”

Michelle’s daughter Emma also started taking SANCA’s summer circus camps when she was six years old. She met one of her best friends at circus camp, and now they coordinate to go to circus camp together every year. Michelle says it’s the highlight of the summer and that they really enjoy sharing in the diversity available at SANCA. Emma also got hooked on flying trapeze and she’s had her birthday party at SANCA these past two years. JW and his wife Sara and both their kids have also tried the flying trapeze, and they’ve brought their cousins from France to try it also.

campers Acro GW 062215

“Seeing so many kids have such a great experience at SANCA drove home how
important it was to have SANCA in the community,” says JW.

JW says he views the property management business as a partnership with the tenants. He wants his leasers to succeed at their businesses. In the beginning, JW says, it helped that Chuck and Jo were always very reassuring and a pleasure to do business with. The Harveys extended discounts to SANCA because they really believed in what SANCA was doing and wanted to be part of that. They also knew that in the early years Jo and Chuck took no pay as SANCA was getting started. They both had fulltime jobs: Jo at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, and Chuck worked with a decorating contractor for trade shows and special events while also coaching gymnastics and acrobatics. It really showed their commitment to SANCA.

“Taking on a first-time business can be risky,” JW observes. “I rely a lot on personal feeling about the person running the business. SANCA really helped us to rethink the possibilities of who could be a good leasing partner. Now we’re more willing to take risks. We have tenants who aren’t traditional commercial clients, including arts and non-profit organizations like Unexpected Productions Improv School and the EnFuego Baseball Academy, as well as massage, counseling, and therapeutic providers. Over time, we’ve put more money into facility improvements for SANCA than we have any other tenant. It feels more personal – we love having SANCA as a tenant.”

Michelle says, “It’s really nice to know that we can help the community by supporting SANCA at the business level. SANCA reaches a huge part of our community – even touching our own employees and other tenants. Many of our families have taken classes at SANCA.”

“SANCA has also been a big part of the revitalization of Georgetown,” says JW. “The school’s clientele has brought younger families into the neighborhood and given a boost to local businesses. I’ve seen Airport Way become a bustling neighborhood, and motivated young entrepreneurs and startups have set up shop since SANCA became part of the neighborhood.”

The Harveys haven’t just been great landlords for SANCA – they’ve become valued partners, supporters, and donors for the circus school. Orcas Business Park has sponsored SANCAthon, and the Harveys are mainstays at SANCA’s annual gala – Up, with a Twist!

“The Twist gala was a real eye opener,” says Michelle, “It’s very moving to learn about all that SANCA does for the community, and how much it grows year after year. We want to see that success continue and help support it.”

SANCA is very thankful of The Harvey’s support of the school – we couldn’t ask for better landlords!

Moisture Festival Benefit Show

Cirrus_Hotel2015_triounicycle_cornicello_sq_sm

TRIcycle

April 3rd, 3pm

“This show will be a special benefit show for SANCA, featuring guest appearances from SANCA artists and staff.  Net proceeds from this show will go towards SANCA’s programs recognized nationally as a leader in youth circus arts education, safety, and instructor training.

The Moisture Festival presents its 13th year of high energy comedy/varietè shows featuring a rapid succession of acts showcasing comedy alongside awe-inspiring physical and mental dexterity, with poignant moments of strength and delicate beauty to make audiences laugh, wonder, shake their heads in disbelief and truly appreciate how live entertainment can exhilarate and bring real joy. A live show band propels each performance. Varietè has its roots in the Music Halls of 19th century England, cabaret in Europe and vaudeville in America. Because of the talented artists currently working in this genre, it is still fresh, exciting and tremendous fun for the audience.”

Jasmine on the wire

Jasmine on the wire

Buy tickets today!

Performers include:
Cirrus Circus
Jasmine Manuel
The Amazing Circus 1-dersTRIcycle
Duncan Davenport
Magnificent 7
Brighter Than Diamonds
Mary Gargett
with Special Guests Splinter Dance & The Georgetown Orbits!

Happy New Year! – Community Letter

Happy New Year!

It’s been just about four months since I stepped in as the Interim Executive Director at SANCA and I wanted to give you an update on the organization and a brief wrap-up of 2015.

First, I want to say that it has been a delight working with the staff, coaches, students, and parents here at SANCA. The sense of community and family runs to the heart of the organization. Everyone that works (and plays) here embodies a deep commitment to the students and to the personal growth, mental and physical health, confidence, and simple joy that the circus arts brings to our lives.

Since my arrival, I have been working to formalize the structure of our programs and organization to streamline our processes and focus our energies efficiently. Our organizational structure now reflects SANCA’s three distinct program areas: Circus Arts, Performance, and Social Circus. I want to share with you our progress in each area and where we plan to go in 2016.

Circus Arts Programs
C1A_2012_student_globe_01_smSANCA’s Circus Arts Programs — including 12-week session classes, single serving classes, and flying trapeze classes for youth and adults — continues to thrive with energy and excitement. These programs operate at near-full capacity with a steady year-over-year enrollment of more than 1,000 students per week. In 2015 SANCA granted over $136,000 in scholarships to youth in circus classes.

In 2016, Crystal Campbell and our Circus Arts Program staff will continue the spirit of fun, safety, and accessibility originally established by co-Founders Chuck Johnson and Jo Montgomery. They will also optimize our class offerings, schedule, and staffing to better serve the student body and grow our capacity to meet the needs of the community.

Performance Programs
We had a booming performance year at SANCA including our annual Spring Showcase—SASS; the annual Staff Show, “The Circus Animal: A cornicello-sass2015-902smDocumentary”; and Cirrus Circus’s fall show “HOTEL.” All of our youth troupes — Cirrus, the Magnificent 7, and the Amazing Circus 1-ders – performed at various community events and festivals throughout the region, including the Georgetown Carnival, Whirligig, and Seattle Center’s Winterfest.

Our Artist-In-Residence program fostered two original productions from IMPulse Circus Collective (“Figments” at the Moisture Festival and a Pacific Northwest mini-tour of “We All Fall Down”) and continuing works from The Acrobatic Conundrum — including a trip to Egypt for the BackStreet Festival and a talk/performance at TEDxRainier. I hope you were able to catch at least one of these fabulous performances.

Kicking off 2016, we welcome our new Youth Performance Companies Director, Audrey Spinazola. Audrey has joined us from Circus Center and Prescott Circus in San Francisco and we look forward to her creativity and leadership working with our youth performers in the coming year.

Our current crop of seven Professional Preparatory Program (P3) students are all thriving and eager to move forward with the creation of new acts. Look for their end-of-year performance in early June. We will also expand and formalize our Artist-In-Residence Program to accept applications from aspiring circus artists from around the world.

Social Circus
Ben VanHouten VanHouten Photography, Inc. 206-933-8753 ben@vanhoutenphoto.comOur Social Circus programs represent the heart of SANCA and make circus available to those who have the least access and opportunity to participate in healthy, creative, physical arts. In 2015 SANCA granted more than $18,000 in financial aid to our Every Body’s Circus youth and our Circus Outreach partners.

At the end of 2015, we began expanding our Social Circus initiatives, building on the great work that our co-Founder Jo Montgomery began, and continues to provide, in Every Body’s Circus. 2016 promises to be the year of Social Circus at SANCA as the program grows to include:

  • Social Circus Outreach to build additional partnerships in the greater Seattle area that bring circus to underserved and at-risk communities that want to use circus for social, emotional, and physical growth.
  • Every Body’s Circus to bring circus to youth who have learning differences, trauma-related or mood disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, hemiparesis, spina bifida, and vision or hearing impairments.

Our new Social Circus Director, Ian Jagel, is building new connections in our community to reach more underserved and marginalized youth with outreach circus programming — look for an update on our pilot program with the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) in the first quarter of 2016.

I am also delighted to introduce Alexandra Daves, MSW, LSWAIC, who will lead Therapeutic Circus Arts program moving forward. Alex brings her knowledge and expertise in mental health services as a Licensed Social Worker to compliment the physical health services offered by our co-founder Jo Montgomery, ARNP. Alex looks forward to incorporating mental health services into Every Body’s Circus as we expand our therapeutic circus offerings.

Thank You
In 2015, we raised over $150,000 dollars in individual contributions from our generous community of supporters. Your contributions provided financial scholarships for youth and made it possible for SANCA to offer our Social Circus and Youth Performance programs to the community while keeping circus accessible to all who want to participate.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

I’d also like to thank our institutional supporters who provided general operating and program support in 2015: 4Culture, Boeing, ChenSteinO’MallySven Foundation, Cirque du Soleil, Nesholm Family Foundation, Newground Social Investment, Orcas Business Park (SANCA’s Landlords), The Ruddell Kroll Charitable Fund, Seattle Children’s, The Seattle Foundation, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Teamtrio, Teatro ZinZanni, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, and the Windermere Foundation.

Looking Forward to 2016
tightwire sqIn 2016, we will expand our Social Circus programs, grow the capacity of the Circus Arts Program, and raise the level of excellence in our Performance Programs. Simultaneously, we will focus on optimizing staffing for programs, tightening up administrative processes and costs, and updating our technical infrastructure to improve efficiency. Your gifts of support in 2016 will guarantee the success of the expansion of our Social Circus programs and community partnerships, ensure continued support of all youth who want to take circus classes via our scholarship program, and will keep the heart of SANCA beating strong.

Whether your support comes as a gift of financial support, attendance at one of our shows, volunteering at an event, participating in SANCAthon, or taking one of our amazing circus classes, we appreciate every one of you and what you bring to SANCA. You are all part of the SANCA family, and you are why we are here.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2016!

Happy New Year,
Carl Bystrom
Interim Executive Director
SANCA — School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts

Meet SANCA’s P3s! (Part 2)

SANCA is very excited to welcome the latest group of young circus artists to the third year of our Professional Preparatory Program (P3)!

The P3 program, now in its third year, offers training for young adults seeking professional careers in the circus arts. The 9-month program provides 30 hours per week of coursework designed to prepare artists for auditions and entry into multi-year circus programs. Training includes four areas of focus:

  • Acrobatics (handstands, tumbling, trampoline, partner acrobatics)
  • Aerial (static trapeze, rope, fabric, hoop, Chinese pole)
  • Dance (ballet, modern, choreography)
  • Theater and Act Creation (improvisation, physical storytelling, acting, mask and clown)

The 9-month academic year is divided into five sessions, during which students first learn a baseline of skills, and then create two acts in the specialties of their choice. In the final session, the students create and perform an ensemble show. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to assist in the production aspects of other SANCA productions and present works in progress in informal settings for development and constructive feedback.

P3 Group Acro

SANCA’s 2015-16 P3 students get to work on their first day at SANCA!

Coming Blog Posts will introduce SANCA’s P3 students. Today, please welcome Chris Bess and Aleasha Lynn Rosette Holtby to SANCA and the P3 Program!


Chris Bess HSChris Bess hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. He began his is career in physical arts as gymnast, later branching out into parkour, free-running, dance, and tricking. Tricking is a multi-disciplinary art that combines tumbling, martial arts, breakdancing, and strong sense of aesthetics.

Chris says that in Circus Arts, he’s found a way to put all these disciplines and skills together as a performance art that has diversity and creativity that’s not always available in other disciples.

He wants to communicate with movement, and feels most expressive through circus as a medium for making art and putting it into the world. Chris is interested in pushing boundaries, innovating, and creating things that people have never seen before.

Chris discovered SANCA when a physical theater teacher at UNC Charolette, Carlos Cruz, told him about circus and SANCA. Carlos is a circus and aerial straps artist originally from Do Jump! Dance Theatre and Imago Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

Of SANCA, Chris says the first few weeks have been really good and that it’s great to be in a regular training schedule. He wants to focus on Circus Arts at SANCA, with a vision of performing circus and making a living performing. He’s been primarily a soloist, but is interested in doing more partner and ensemble work.

He plans to take what he learns at SANCA back to Raleigh, where he’s involved with Raleigh Culture Project – a group dedicated to bringing all the movement disciplines together and fostering connections with musicians, visual artists, media, video, and the Internet.

Aleasha Holtby HSAleasha Lynn Rosette Holtby is 26. She was looking for new challenges after practicing yoga for five years, and discovered contortion. Shortly after that she started taking aerial classes and fell in love with all of it. She is specializing in Lyra (aerial hoop).

Aleasha wants to master the Lyra and learn intense tricks like elbow rolls and the one-foot toe hang. She’s very excited to expand her acrobatic and dance skills to create a captivating acro-dance. She also is excited to develop more skills all aspects of circus arts so that she can bring her knowledge home to teach it to others. One of her professional goals is to open her own aerials/yoga studio.

She chose to study at SANCA because it offered a full time program, and she wants to spend a full year immersed in circus! Aleasha looks forward to becoming proficient in each discipline, mastering the Lyra, and discovering passions in the circus arts.

AleashaHoltby

Aleasha performing a Lyra and contortion act.

Bad Taste, Good Sense, and Dazzling Deeds of Daring-Do

Or, 3 Things about Old Circus to Embrace in New Circus

     — SANCA Blog Post by Jenna Barrett, SANCA Administrative Director

 

There’s no doubt about it, working in contemporary circus is fun!

The physical feats are impressive, styles are anything from bold and brassy to thoughtful and sublime; and the jokes are usually pretty funny. It feels like we’re part of the reinventing of circus, bringing a genuine, compassionate, perhaps more intelligent (and less exploitive) facet to the cut glass of this physical arts form, and making it shine like diamonds in the spotlight — or forgoing the spotlight altogether and practicing circus for the joy of it alone, no audience necessary. Like the Beat Generation of the Big Top, or something. Surfing the effervescence of dreaming up liberated yet playful crowd-pleasing acts to a beloved ancient entertainment is exciting, but if we’re going to bedazzle this particular top hat we should acknowledge the history of circus is our history — all of the history, even the seedier parts.

It seems sometimes there is a push to careen forward into New Circus, and by doing so distance oneself from “old,” or traditional, circus. The fact that the demarcation of “New” Circus is necessary at all highlights this; some of how contemporary circus defines itself is by not doing stuff that traditional circus undeniably did do, and those elements are ingrained enough in the recognition of it that they must be forsaken. Let the mistakes of the past be in the past then, my friends, but before we lock old circus history away in the attic I’d like to point out a few antiques that may be worth tucking carefully in the caravan and taking with us as we move on.

1. But Where Are the Elephants?

An Acrobatic equestrian act in Cavalia.

An Acrobatic equestrian act in Cavalia.

First things first: animals are rarely featured in contemporary circus. This makes sense from a chronological, technological point of view; we don’t use dray horses to till fields anymore, either. While New Circus is largely focused on the physical and entertaining feats of the human animal, it is important to recognize that not all of the relationships between performers and performing animals are exploitive and abusive. Acrobatic equestrians (say that three time fast) are responsible for much of the historical success of circus in the West, and the contemporary blockbuster Cavalia serves as a shining example of promise for future circus that can include performing animals in a positive, mutually beneficial way.

 

2. Funhouse Mirrors

Funhouse Mirrors at Playland - Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library.

Funhouse Mirrors at Playland: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library.

Audiences seek entertainment that thrills and entertains, and the things we pay to see on stage and screen are cultural mirrors of each age. Our fears and delights are reflected in other mediums as well, like monster trends in horror movies. If zombies — creatures that were once like us, but are now undead and monstrous — are popular at present because they embody the vile possibilities of the human without the humanity, then could it be that dreamlike aerialists in the sky and cavorting acrobats represent living heroes who show us the dazzling feats that are possible the stranger beside us on the bus?

 

 

3. Live Girls

Sells Floto circus M'lle Beeson, a marvelous high wire Venus.

Sells Floto circus M’lle Beeson, a marvelous high wire Venus.

How did circus women help the suffrage movement? In those charming vintage posters there is an unmistakable patina of the seedy, the salty, and risqué always seeming to almost topple into raunchy. However, circus athletes of the early 20th century could not perform in the puritanical trappings of women’s dress of the day, and so they were some of the first women to wear short skirts in public. This gender-inclusive trend continues to this day, where studies show that circus is one of the few sports activities that create success for all kids who put their mind to it, regardless of the social influences and differences that typically separate boys and girls in athletics.

BlogPost-StrongWoman-10-19-15

In circus, the only limits are imagination.

Besides, it’s not like traditional circus went anywhere, as the continued prosperity of centuries-old traditional circus outfits indicates. However, it is heartening to see traditional circus quietly reform their menagerie to reflect their audience’s desires, and do away with the more distasteful elements in their shows. Many “circus traditions” are little more than marketing gimmicks dreamed up by the show outfit themselves, to create fondness, and are easily swayed by modern trends. Like circus peanuts. Peanuts? In public?! Where children that may possibly have allergies are present?!? This is America, buster. That’s just a nonstarter. But these days there is room in the theater for both traditional and contemporary, and that emergence is exciting.

Meet SANCA’s P3s! (Part 1)

SANCA is very excited to welcome the latest group of young circus artists to the third year of our Professional Preparatory Program (P3)!

The P3 program, now in its third year, offers training for young adults seeking professional careers in the circus arts. The 9-month program provides 30 hours per week of coursework designed to prepare artists for auditions and entry into multi-year circus programs. Training includes four areas of focus:

  • Acrobatics (handstands, tumbling, trampoline, partner acrobatics)
  • Aerial (static trapeze, rope, fabric, hoop, Chinese pole)
  • Dance (ballet, modern, choreography)
  • Theater and Act Creation (improvisation, physical storytelling, acting, mask and clown)

The 9-month academic year is divided into five sessions, during which students first learn a baseline of skills, and then create two acts in the specialties of their choice. In the final session, the students create and perform an ensemble show. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to assist in the production aspects of other SANCA productions and present works in progress in informal settings for development and constructive feedback.

P3 Group Acro

SANCA’s 2015-16 P3 students get to work on their first day at SANCA!

Coming Blog Posts will introduce SANCA’s P3 students. Today, please welcome Cameron Clarke and Katheryn Reed to SANCA and the P3 Program!


Cameron ClarkeCameron Clarke is 19 and hopes to become a circus generalist and expand on every discipline that he can while at SANCA because there is so much variety and so much to learn. Cameron says:

“I became involved in circus when my family moved to Belgium for three years. I joined an afterschool circus program called Circus Avanco in Aalbeke, Belgium. I hope to audition at École de cirque de Québec in 2016 and attend their three-year professional training program. I chose SANCA for my preparatory study because the facility is excellent and it will be a good way to accomplish all of the training I seek in one place. The circus community in Seattle has been very welcoming and I am excited to live here.”

Katheryn ReedKatheryn Reed is 28 and has been a dancer all her life, but she says it didn’t always feel like it was a viable career, that something was missing, and that her body felt disconnected.

“About 5 years ago” Katheryn says, “I started training in partner acrobatics focused in L-basing with the Seattle Acro group. My whole world opened up, and with the increase of strength in my core and upper body, I finally felt like one piece when I danced.”

Katheryn has been involved with the circus community in Seattle for some time now, working closely with The Acrobatic Conundrum, stage managing for their show The Way Out, and choreographing their show Secret Passages.

“Through continuing to meet new people I became the Captain for the Seattle Chapter of Circus Now, and over the past year we have produced over 10 fantastic and free circus-related events supporting Seattle’s amazing circus community.”

“I chose to train with SANCA because it has always been my circus home, says Katheryn, “It’s welcoming and friendly with amazing facilities and talented teachers. I love ground acrobatics, hand to hand, and Cyr wheel. I just felt like I could not take enough classes to see the progress I wanted, so the full-time P3 Program seemed like the perfect fit!”

Katheryn hopes to continue to perform in Seattle and tour in the longer term. She loves choreographing for circus and hopes collaborate and produce circus in the future. You can also find her dancing and performing professionally with Cafe Nordo and Marxiano Productions.