Author Archives: Jeff

What’s UP at SANCA? – Aviatrix!

If you look up at SANCA, it’s not unusual to see the high-flying quartet known throughout Seattle as Aviatrix hanging from the rafters. Often they are “flying” from their triple trapeze in a retro-circus homage of aviator Amelia Earhart and wing-walking women such as Ethel Dare, the “Queen of the Air,” from the barnstorming airshows of the 1920’s.

Carri Andersen, Cathy Sutherland, Esther Edelman, and Martha Enson as Aviatrix! Photo by John Cornicello

Carri Andersen, Cathy Sutherland, Esther Edelman, and Martha Enson as Aviatrix! – Photo by John Cornicello

The members of Aviatrix are Carri Andersen, Cathy Sutherland, Esther Edelman, and Martha Enson. In their combined pasts they have been gymnasts, actors, dancers, and directors. They have performed across the United States and in Europe & Mexico, on the outer edge of the Space Needle, and in the presence of kings.

The inspiration for the troupe came from the 1920’s barnstorming airshows, and Sutherland says after they first got the idea they did a lot of research on aviation and design. It turned out that finding the right costuming was one of their biggest challenges. They searched for months for costumes that fit their theme and could be worn on the trapeze. One of the best finds they made was the Federal Army & Navy Surplus store on Seattle’s First Avenue in downtown. It turned out the store had much of the costuming the troupe needed.

Another challenge the quartet faced in putting the act together was synchronization. With four people working up in the air on a trapeze, but no outside director; how to get the timing right? Lots of video recording turned out to be the answer, and it’s not uncommon to see a tripod aimed at the quartet during rehearsals.

Too Many Martinis! Photo by John Cornicello

Too Many Martinis!
Photo by John Cornicello

In addition to their wing-walking classic, Aviatrix have devised a “bottoms-up” burlesque act called “Too Many Martinis” that features 5-foot-tall, martini-glass-shaped, stainless-steel trapezes dreamed up by Enson and constructed by musician-sculptor Ela Lamblin of the Vashon Island troupe Lelavision. It’s not every day that you see a new-fangled aerial apparatus appear, so when the martini glasses first came to SANCA, it attracted a lot of attention – everyone wondered what they were going to do and how it would work.

Aviatrix regularly appears in Moisture Festival and many other local Seattle events and shows, but it wouldn’t be far from the mark to say that SANCA is home base for them. When the group was first getting started they trained at the Georgetown Ballroom, but as business picked up at the ballroom, scheduling open training time was getting difficult. SANCA’s founders, Chuck & Jo, invited Aviatrix to train at SANCA.

Sutherland notes that if it weren’t for SANCA, they might not still be training together as a group – it’s that hard to find training space large enough to accommodate their apparatus in Seattle.

“SANCA has been so outstandingly kind and generous to us,” says Enson, “It’s really set up for the circus and aerial training we do, and it’s got a great ceiling height.”

Enson also points out how flexible it is at SANCA and how good the community it is. It’s easy to move their trapeze and rigging to different parts of the building to accommodate classes without missing out on their regular training schedule, and there are often opportunities for feedback and act discussions with staff.

The Aviatrix at Moisture Festival. Photo by Michelle Bates

The Aviatrix at Moisture Festival. – Photo by Michelle Bates

“It’s great to see the range of ages training and taking classes here,” Enson says, noting that her own daughter, Ruby, has taken classes at SANCA. “All the staff at SANCA does amazing things. It’s very inspiring to see the staff here training and teaching.”

SANCA staff and students are amazed as well by Aviatrix. Every time they turn on their music to run through their act, people in the gym all stop what they are doing to watch the impromptu performance.

The High-Flying Aviaxtrix! Photo by John Cornicello

The High-Flying Aviaxtrix! – Photo by John Cornicello

Keep your eyes peeled for Aviatrix’s next public performance and make sure to catch them throughout the run of Moisture Festival every spring in March and April.

Meet SANCA’s Doctor of Physical Therapy and Circus Coach – Emily Scherb!

Emily Scherb - SANCA's Doctor of Physical Therapy!

Emily Scherb – SANCA’s Doctor of Physical Therapy!

Emily started her circus career when she was eleven years old at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. She began by learning static trapeze, mini-tramp, and tumbling. Then moved on to partner acrobatics, swinging rings, aerial cradle and flying trapeze, and became a flying trapeze instructor when she was 15 years old.

She moved to Portland, Oregon and joined Pendulum Aerial Arts and DO JUMP! Physical Theatre, where she performed for several years. Her career eventually led to Saint Louis, where she went to college for a degree in physical anthropology and dance. While there, Emily taught circus skills at Circus Harmony, a youth social circus program.

After college, Emily worked for a time as the Assistant Manager for TSNY – the Trapeze School in New York. During that time she apprenticed with STREB Extreme Action Company – a dance-based physical action performance school and production company and helped start the Espana Streb Trapeze Academy. She then returned to Saint Louis for graduate studies at Washington University to complete her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Emily always knew she wanted to be involved with physical movement and combining working with performance arts and physical therapy was a natural fit for her. She enjoys teaching people how to move – both everyday movement and performance movement. Emily says that physical therapy is really about teaching people how to recognize limitations in movement and retraining to overcome the limitation to return to normal movement and ability.

She thinks that the combination of circus and physical therapy makes treatment accessible at many levels:

  • For the general population circus-based physical therapy creates opportunities to develop strength, health, and flexibility in a way that empowers you and builds confidence at the level you are at – and it’s a fun way to stay active!
  • For people with disabilities, it’s a way to approach working with a limitation that creates a new perspective and enables a person to do things they couldn’t do before by providing a new, different, or unusual stimulus that wakes up the neurological system.
  • For performers and circus artists, Emily shares her knowledge of anatomy and physical therapy to teach artists how to train using good body mechanics and in a holistic manner that keeps the body healthy and avoids injury.

“It’s important to me that I support the circus community and help the community grow in a healthy and sustainable way,” says Emily, “Teaching circus has been a good foundation and education of how to communicate about movement to patients, and the importance of treating the whole body to create coordinated movement.”

At SANCA, Emily keeps active in circus as a part-time Flying Trapeze Coach. She also works with SANCA’s Every Body’s Circus Program, helping to run summer camps for youth with disabilities.

“It’s such a unique opportunity,” Emily says, “Because SANCA has so many medical and sports professionals present as staff, and even as students, that it becomes a very safe and welcoming environment for kids who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in sports. Here at SANCA, they get to participate and they don’t have to feel different from their peers – they get to be like everyone else who is learning circus. At SANCA, their therapy becomes fun – it’s no longer a chore to learn how to use their bodies – and they receive a level of focused attention that’s not always available in other areas of their lives.”

Emily points out the changes that kids experience in the program:

  • They’re more confident and determined.
  • They learn better weight bearing movement.
  • They learn better oppositional (cross-body) movement.
  • They improve their coordination and their ability to achieve skills that others often take for granted, like being able to jump, or walk up stairs.

As part of her practice as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Emily holds clinic hours at SANCA two days a week, and also at her office on Westlake at Lake Union. She is also a touring lecturer, presenting workshops on anatomy and injury prevention for circus performers and students all across the United States.

Hanging out on the flying trapeze net.

Hanging out on the flying trapeze net.

Emily can be contacted at the following numbers and locations:

Pure Motion Physical Therapy
www.puremotionphysicaltherapy.com
Phone: (206) 316-0457

Westlake Office
2130 Westlake Ave N, Suite 2
Seattle, WA 98109

Georgetown Office (inside SANCA)
674 South Orcas Street
Seattle, WA 98108

Back to Sports with Title Nine and SANCA!

SANCA Board Member Kristina Wicke

SANCA Board Member Kristina Wicke

SANCA Board Member Kristina Wicke recently sat down with Circus 1-ders Coach Terri Sullivan to chat about SANCA and Title Nine—a women’s athletic sportswear store in Greenlake—and the upcoming Back-to-Sports Fundraiser benefiting SANCA on Thursday, August 27th.

SANCA Coach Terri Sullivan

SANCA Coach
Terri Sullivan

Kristina and Terri have been friends and circus fans since their days performing as members of the New Old Time Chautauqua. They’ve both been part of SANCA since the beginning – Terri as our first hired Circus Coach, and Kristina as a founding Board Member. Outside of their roles at SANCA, Terri is the District Manager for Title Nine, and Kristina is Store Manager for Title Nine’s Greenlake location.

Kristina Wicke: Why do you think SANCA and Title Nine a good match? And what do they have in common?

Terri Sullivan: You and me for starters! Seriously, there are a ton of things that the organizations share. A SANCA woman IS a Title Nine woman. There is a shared sensibility, style and attitude. I think I’ve told you before, but when I first found the Title Nine store I was excited. I said, “Finally! Here are my clothes! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

KW: What’s your favorite thing about SANCA?

TS: I love EVERYTHING about SANCA. The most exciting thing is the way that I’ve seen it empower kids to be confident in their bodies. It’s a HUGE skill. That physical confidence allows kids, especially girls, to become capable, strong people – both physically and mentally. Also the Circus 1-ders are awesome!

KW: You are clearly passionate about SANCA. What do you love about Title Nine?

TS: The people. The people that work and shop at Title Nine are awesome. It’s the reason I work there – plain and simple. There’s a wonderfully quirky sensibility at T9. When I first interviewed for my job, I wasn’t really sure if it would be a good fit for me. Then I met all the fabulous folks that I would get to spend time with and I was sold. Just like at SANCA we celebrate out victories and learn from our mistakes. And did I mention that the clothes are pretty great, too?

SANCA Coach Terri Sullivan - keeping in shape at Title Nine!

SANCA Coach Terri Sullivan
keeping in shape – and style! – at Title Nine

KW: Do you have some current favorite T9 outfits?

TS: Oh, heck yeah …. Right now I’m living in the Standby Capri, Alpha-Omega Top and Shift Jacket. They are great for coaching! And I also love the Performance Jean, paired with the Mixologist Tunic.

KW: Why shop at the T9/SANCA Back-to-Sports Event?

TS: First, it’s a great way to support the school. SANCA continues to offer scholarships for kids who can’t afford the tuition on their own. And that work can’t continue without donations and support. Also, you’re going to walk away with fabulous outfits from a great shopping experience. Title Nine is committed to finding the right clothes for you. It’s a win/win! You get a terrific clothes and SANCA benefits!

We’d love to see you there!

SANCA Back-to-Sports Fundraiser at Title Nine
Thursday, August 27, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Anyone who shops at Title Nine and mentions SANCA at checkout will have 9% of their purchase value donated to SANCA in support of all our youth programs.

You can preview Title Nine’s selection of sportswear at: www.titlenine.com

Title Nine – Greenlake
7000 Woodlawn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115

The Improbable Return of the Amazing Scotty Walsh!

With a magician, anything is possible, including reappearing at SANCA just in time for the school’s annual Staff Show – The Circus Animal: A Nature Documentary.

SANCA is delighted to welcome back Scotty Walsh – one of our earliest circus students and coaches. Scotty is visiting SANCA from Cork, Ireland during the month of August, working in collaboration with Kelsa Dine. Together, they will debut a new act called “The Smiths.” Scotty and Kelsa took time out from their busy training and performing schedule for an interview with SANCA.

Scott Walsh attempts to read Kelsa Dine's thoughts in their new mentalism act, "The Deans."

Scott Walsh attempts to read Kelsa Dine’s thoughts in their
new mentalism act, “The Smiths.”

SANCA: Scotty, you’ve been a performer for some time now, how did you get your start?

Scotty: I was eight when I saw my first magic show. It was Mike the Magic Janitor. He was the janitor at Pomeroy Elementary School in Pomeroy, Washington, but he also did magic shows for the school at Halloween and for the town’s Tumbleweed Festival and County Fair. I was really inspired and started inventing magic tricks to show him, and I pestered him constantly about learning more magic.

At one point Mike had a gig at the town Vaudeville Show, but he was unable to attend and asked me to do a magic show in his place. He helped me choreograph a show and taught me how to do it. That was my first magic show – for 400 people – when I was eight.

That’s one of the reasons that I love to do shows for kids, because Mike the Magic Janitor had such a huge impact on me as a kid.

SANCA: What came next in your magic career?

Scotty: The Market Magic Shop at Pike Place Market had been an annual pilgrimage for me for years when visiting Seattle from Eastern Washington. I started working in the Magic Shop and also working as a street performer at the Market when I came to Seattle to attend the University of Washington for a degree in Political Science.

SANCA: Political Science seems a far cry from magic and performance, what sparked that interest?

Scotty: I lived in Kosovo for a year and I’d become really interested in humanitarian issues, and Political Science seemed a natural fit for that kind of work. I was also very active in the performance and circus community in Seattle at the same time – busking at the Market and juggling with the Cascade Jugglers. I also founded the Emerald City Circus as a student club at U.W. to create more community on campus for circus.

SANCA: You were one of SANCA’s first adult students, and later even coached classes for SANCA. How did you discover SANCA?

Scotty: I saw the Cirque du Soleil show “Dralion” and was very inspired – especially by Joe de Paul’s clown act in that show. I wanted to go to the École Nationale de Cirque (ENC), and started teaching myself dive rolls from Hovey Burgess’s book, Circus Techniques.

At about the same time, Jason Williams and Evelyn Bittner (Dr. Calamari & Acrophelia of Circus Contraption) attended one of my shows where I was recreating Houdini’s Water Tank Escape. They told me about SANCA and I started taking classes to prepare for my audition at ENC.

SANCA: After your time at SANCA you went to study physical theatre in Italy. What took you there?

Scotty: I didn’t pass my audition at ENC, but SANCA was giving me everything I wanted to learn about how to perform acrobatics. There is a painting by Picasso which depicts the acrobat/clown Harlequin who descended from the Commedia dell’Arte – a copy of this painting, The Family of Saltimbanques, is hanging in Chuck and Jo’s [SANCA’s founders] office. That painting was always very inspiring to me and I felt my next step as a performer was to train in physical theater and the commedia. I discovered a school called the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo – in the Tuscany region of Italy. I was accepted to their 2-1/2 year MFA program in Physical Theatre.

SANCA: Kelsa, how did you get started as a performer?

Kelsa: I had an interest in theatre from an early age, and did performances in grade school, but the High School I went to didn’t have a drama department so I took voice lessons and sung in the choir. I went to college in Baltimore for a degree in Acting and Playwriting, and it was there that I also took classes in single-point trapeze.

SANCA: What took you to Italy to study at the Accademia?

Kelsa: During college I had the opportunity to do a one-month intensive at the Accademia dell’Arte. It was a really amazing experience that stuck with me. After college I decided to continue my studies at the Accademia.

Scotty: Around that time I was planning my next degree – a Doctorate in Drama and Theatre with a focus on performance in mentalism. After graduating the Accademia I went to University Cork College in Cork, Ireland to begin my Doctorate.

SANCA: Why mentalism? And what is mentalism?

Scotty: Mentalism is a performing art that uses, or seems to use, highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Mentalism is traced back to tales of the supernatural – clairvoyance in Greek myths or legends of second sight and witchcraft which emerged from the Scottish Highlands.

I was very interested in the intersection of mentalism and physical theater because physical theater can develop heightened nonverbal communication to the point where it might be said to resemble “telepathy.” I want to reinterpret mentalism through the lens of physical theater.

Kelsa: Much of physical theater is the study of proprioception – total body awareness – understanding the space surrounding your body and where you are in that space. It’s a type of sensitivity training. It’s this type of heightened sensitivity that often connects to acts of mentalism, which people can confuse with ESP or supernatural ability.

SANCA: What brings you back to SANCA just in time for our summer staff show?

Scotty: Last year, Jo invited me to perform at SANCA’s 10th Anniversary Circus Festival, and I had such a great time returning to SANCA and performing last year that I wanted to do it again. I was on summer break from UCC, so I called and asked if I could come back for the month of August, and if I could take part in the staff show and they said yes. Working at SANCA is such a positive and rewarding experience. I knew I wanted to find collaborators for a new act and SANCA seemed like the right place for that.

My proposal to Jo was to have training time at SANCA to create a new act, and in return teach workshops for the SANCA community and the youth troupes. It is really important to me to give back to the community that has given me so much. Participating in the staff show is a bonus and I’m very grateful that they are letting us take part in the show.

SANCA: You’ve been training at SANCA for a couple weeks now. What’s that experience been like?

Kelsa: I’m really inspired by the collective circus groups you have training here – IMPulse and The Acrobatic Conundrum. Watching them create new work and how they are developing their acts through a group devising process is really exciting.

SANCA Smiths 5smScotty: SANCA is an incredible place. There’s nothing else like it, and it’s changed my life immeasurably. I am always astounded at how the school enriches the people that come through its doors. For us, it’s been a positive and welcoming training environment. We’ve been able to get feedback on the act we’re working on, and that’s a really important part of the process – having constructive audience feedback in a safe environment while creating new work.

Kelsa: Thank you for welcoming us. This is a fantastic place to work and train.

SANCA: What can audiences expect from your new act, “The Smiths?”

Scotty: A show equal parts comedy and mentalism leading to an unexpected and inexplicable moment of truth.

SANCA: How does it relate to the show theme – The Circus Animal?

Scotty: There’s been some interesting research recently about telepathy in animals, examining the potentiality of animal telepathy, or really, methods of nonverbal, nontraditional communication that we are only just starting to understand.

Kelsa: We’ll be representing that most unusual of animals: The Human Animal.

SANCA: Is there anything else you can tell us about the act?

Scotty: We’re liars, cheats, and frauds, and by the end of the show, you’ll wonder if we’re even telling the truth about that. You be the judge!

Scotty Walsh and Kelsa Dine will appear as “The Smiths” for two weekends, Fridays through Sundays in SANCA’s Staff Show – The Circus Animal: A Nature Documentary, August 21-23 and 28-30.

They will also appear at the family friendly August Vaudeville Revue at Kenyon Hall on Tuesday, August 25th at 7:30 p.m.
http://www.kenyonhall.org
7904 35th Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98126

You can visit Scotty at his web page and learn more about mentalism at http://scottywalsh.com.

Meet the Flying Randles

The Flying Randles

The Flying Randles

The Flying Randles are a mother and daughters team of high flyers that includes Merideth, Evelyn (15), and Carolyn (12) Randles.

They first learned about SANCA when they were living in Helena, Montana and a traveling family circus, the Bindlestiffs, came to town and happened to mention a school in Seattle called SANCA. The family moved to Seattle in 2011 and in 2012 they discovered a coupon for SANCA’s School of Flight in the Chinook Book and decided to give it a try.

Mother and daughters all loved the experience, and really enjoyed doing the activity together as a family. They say it’s great to be able to celebrate each other’s successes. It wasn’t long before they were coming to classes every chance they could, and SANCA’s Flying Trapeze Program Directors Paul Peterson and Katie Wagman started referring to them as the Flying Randles, in the longstanding circus tradition of other family fliers.

For all three, flying trapeze has been a great confidence builder and it has inspired them to also take other circus classes, like static trapeze, aerial rope, and trampoline. One of their high points has been being able to participate in SANCA’s flying trapeze shows. Carolyn says, “It helped me overcome my shyness, being able to do something in front of others.”

Carolyn Randles, as Amelia Earhart in the 2015 summer Fly Show, is caught by Tom Hanna.

Carolyn, as Amelia Earhart in the 2015 spring Fly Show,
is caught by Tom Hanna.

Her mother, Merideth, says that she enjoys the practice for the mental and physical focus required. It helps her to relax and not worry about other things in life, while at the same time being a very engaging and stimulating activity.

“Flying trapeze inspired me to also go to the gym – it gave me physical goals so that I would be in better shape to do more in flying trapeze,” says Merideth.

Merideth performs a layout as a butterfly in the 2015 fly show, and is caught by Tom Hanna.

Merideth performs a layout as a butterfly in the spring 2015 fly show, and is caught by Tom Hanna.

Evelyn points out that she was really afraid of heights at first, but her Mom encouraged her to keep trying, and having Paul as a regular coach was also very helpful. He helped Evelyn to figure out how to overcome her fears and do new skills. One big challenge was learning to let go of the fly bar in order to be caught by a catcher. Paul says that Evelyn’s swings on the fly bar were great, but for a long time she was afraid to let go. For his part it was about providing patience and positivity until Evelyn built up the confidence to trust him as her catcher and let go of the bar. Of course, she not only learned to let go and be caught, she’s also recently been certified to fly out-of-lines (without a safety belt) for basic swings.

“Sticking with the trick until you learn it can be challenging, but it’s really important,” says Evelyn. “Flying trapeze is a great sport to commit to and level up in (gain new skills) because you can do it all year round.”

Evelyn Randles practices a stradle whip.

Evelyn practices a straddle whip.

Evelyn and Carolyn have both applied to and will be attending the International School of Paris for the coming school year. They’ll miss SANCA. Fortunately, Paris is the Capital of Circus in Europe, so they’ll have plenty of opportunity to keep up their circus skills. Merideth, meanwhile, plans to get in as much extra time on the trapeze as she can while the girls are in Paris with their Dad.

One of the things that they all like about circus is the style and the color, and the constantly changing experiences. Merideth says, “SANCA is a great place to have fun and grow stronger mentally and physically week after week.”

“It’s easy for anyone to get started and get better at flying trapeze pretty quickly,” says Carolyn. “Come have fun!”

Meet Duo Straight Up

Nick & Rachel performing at SANCA's Annual Spring Showcase in May 2014.

Nick & Rachel performing at SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase in May 2014.

SANCA Coach Spotlight — Duo Straight Up
Rachel Randall & Nick Lowery

Coaches Rachel Randall and Nick Lowery are the latest in a longstanding SANCA tradition of students and coaches who dream big and reach for the stars as professional performers. They first started crafting their Chinese Pole duo act in the fall of 2013, but prior to that they have both spent many years as circus coaches for SANCA.

Rachel joined SANCA in October 2007 after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Dance. She started as a Circus Tot instructor and quickly added a repertoire of teaching that includes unicycle, German wheel, tumbling, and general circus classes. She is also the dance instructor for SANCA’s Professional Preparatory Program.

Rachel says, “I teach students from ages 2 to 70. When I first started teaching Tot Classes at SANCA I was teaching a young 2-year-old named Nina. Now, seven years later, she is a Magnificent 7 youth performer, and I am once again her coach. It’s been amazing to see her progress. I am so proud of my students and how much they grow as individuals and performers through circus arts.”

Nick came to SANCA in 2009 from Oberlin College in Ohio, where he was involved in a student circus club. He took a few classes at SANCA, and was interested in becoming an instructor. After training as a coach and teaching general circus classes, he became interested in Chinese pole and started to specialize. Now Nick teaches SANCA’s pole classes; he also works as a catcher for flying trapeze, and does the coach quarterly schedule on the administrative side.

“I never expected circus to be my life. It started as a hobby,” Nick says. “Being at SANCA gave me the inspiration and opportunity to pursue circus arts in a way I never expected.”

Duo Straight Up performs at SANCA's Circus Festival in August 2014.

Duo Straight Up performs at SANCA’s Circus Festival in August 2014.

After the 2012 Staff Summer Show Rachel and Nick started dating, and not long after that they decided to create a duo act. Rachel says, “I wanted to spend more time with Nick, but he was always busy teaching and training Chinese pole. I decided to take his class, and it turned out that I picked up pole skills really quickly.”

“I asked Rachel if she wanted to create an act together,” says Nick. “We started working together in November 2013 and had our first performance at SASS – SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase in 2014.”

Since then, Duo Straight Up has appeared at the Vancouver Circus Festival, at the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Backstage Bash, and SANCA’s Up, with a Twist at Teatro ZinZanni. They’re aiming to take their act to the professional circus circuit. They say that circus can be more entertaining and accessible to the public than other art forms, and that makes it more fun to perform and connect with audiences.

Keep an eye out for these up-and-coming Circus Stars!