Author Archives: Maia LeDoux

Witches & Wizards: the Fall Festival of Flight

The SANCA School of Flight is welcoming Fall with the Festival of Flight: Wtiches and Wizards! The Open House and Flying Trapeze Shows are a celebration for the whole community. First time flyers are encouraged to try flying on the trapeze during our Open House and to stay for the Flying Trapeze Shows that feature the School of Flight team flyers performing high-flying tricks and feats of derring-do!

This is a non-ticketed event. Contributions are welcomed at the door.
Checkout and Share our event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/279462962439851/

The flying trapeze will be open to participants throughout the Open House. Space is limited, one turn per person, $5. Participants must be 4 years old to fly.

Friday, October 7th
5:30-7:30pm Open House
7:30pm Mini, Jr, & Teen Fly Teams Perform
9:00pm Adult Fly Team Performs

Saturday, October 8th
2:00pm: Mini, Jr, Teen Fly Teams Perform
3:00-5:00pm Open House
7:00pm: Adult Fly Team Performs

The SANCA School of Flight Open House is a celebration for the whole community! First time flyers are encouraged to try flying on the trapeze. The flying trapeze will be open to participants throughout the Open House. Space is limited, one turn per person. Participants must be 4 years old to fly. Turns on the flying trapeze are available for $5. Shows are non-ticketed events. Contributions are welcomed at the door.

How to Adult: SANCA Staff Show

What does it mean to become an adult? When does this happen, and why are some people so ahead of the curve? For many growing people, becoming an adult coincides with leaving college, or moving out of the parents’ house into one’s own rented apartment. Suddenly, you have insane amounts of freedom and responsibility! Is furniture necessary? Why bother learning to cook? Is there an important reason why clothes shouldn’t be kept in the laundry basket after being cleaned?

Join our performers as they move away from home, get new roommates, fall in love (and break up), get jobs, and learn to navigate freedom! As they struggle with understanding that no one will adult for them anymore, the question becomes more clear: “We all have to grow up, but can we still play?”

This exciting collaboration showcases an amazing variety of traditional and modern circus arts, including Aerial Trapeze, Partner Acrobatics, Aerial Rope, Object Manipulation, Swinging Rings, Slack Rope, Duo Trapeze, German wheel, and more!

Performers include: Alyssa Hellrung, Audrey Spinazola, Milla Marshall, Stefanie Brendler, Laura Miller, Faye Visitainier, Alyssa Luna, Sara Havercamp, Zora Blade, and Jasmine Manuel

Blue Angels are back again!

The Boeing Seafair Airshow featuring the Blue Angels is August 5th-7th.

Blue-AngelsThe Blue Angels are expected to arrive between Sunday July 31st int he late afternoon and Monday morning August 1st. Please be prepared for the noise, be patient during times when you cannot hear your coach or classmates, and if the noise is distressing please let someone know if you need a moment in a more quiet room.

The US Navy Blue Angels will be practicing on Thursday August 4th from 9:45 a.m. – noon and 1:15 – 2:40 p.m. They will perform August 5th-7th from 1:15 – 2:30 p.m. Seafair takes place at Genesee Park, but the Blue angels take off and land at Boeing field (just south of SANCA). The take-offs and landings can be incredibly noisy.

And they’re off!

-by Amber Parker

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Nick & Wendy in New York City performing with Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk

It’s nearly summer and there’s lots of changes around SANCA! Our P3 students are graduating, students of all ages are enrolling for new classes and summer camps, and some members of our community are leaving for the season to go on amazing adventures. Among those going on summer adventures are Cirrus Circus members Lyla, Lea, Anna, and Cheya, as well as coaches Nick and Wendy Harden. They are all heading to Circus Smirkus Camp, a youth circus program, for three months of training, performing, and immersion into traditional traveling circus life.

Circus Smirkus is in “the middle of nowhere,” as Nick Harden said when I sat down with him and his wife and co-performer, Wendy Harden, to talk about this incredible journey. Located on a 35 acre pasture in rural Vermont, Circus Smirkus camp is truly an experience of the old circus life. Replete with large, European style Big Top tents, Smirkus accepts approximately 30 students between the ages of 11 and 18 each year to enhance their skills in acrobatics, juggling, aerials, and performance for one month before beginning a 2-month tour all over the northeast.

Nick, who has participated in Smirkus camp in previous years, will be a main acrobatics coach for this year’s campers, and Wendy will be staying in the dorms with campers as their den matron. When asked what they were looking forward to most, Nick reported that, in addition to how rewarding it is to work with youth, having an opportunity to be immersed in circus culture (free from cell phone reception!) and carry on the tradition of the traveling circus is something he loves most about this work. And it is a lot of work! Nick says of their training, “We spend a month in rehearsal putting together the show, and then tour the show around the northeast for about two months. The kids are the show, there’s only one adult in the show. We spend three days in one spot, and then move on to the next town. We go to 10-15 different places and perform between 2-5 shows in each location, but no more than 2 shows a day. It’s a full circus, they have set up duties in addition to their performances. All together we call it 60 shows. In rehearsal we say, ‘remember, you gotta do this for 60 shows.’ ”

smirkus-tent2-1sm-with-logoThis is Wendy’s first year with Circus Smirkus Camp, and she’s excited to be with the campers during such a rich, transformative time in their lives. She says, “Something I’m looking forward to is the bond with all of the campers, or the troupers as they call them. Spending an entire summer with these 30 kids who are away from their parents for maybe for the first time, who are going into high school for the first time, having their first crush or have their first bout of insecurity… that’s a really rich time for these kids going in and out of adolescence and I’m excited to be around that, to bond with them and help them deal with those challenges.”

The campers, or troupers, at Circus Smirkus Camp are indeed entering into a rich time in their lives, a time that will only be enhanced by the supportive, creative, and talented team leading them on their circus tour. We’d like to wish the very best to Nick, Wendy, and the group of Cirrus Circus youth performers as they work hard, learn new lessons, and carry on the grand tradition of the traveling circus! 

Persistence and Support in SANCA’s Circus

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Hello everyone! My name is Kit and I am interning at SANCA this summer to wrap up my MFA degree in Arts Administration. I drove all the way from Utah and will be here until the end of July. As a belly dancer and hula hooper, I have always had a love for performing and creating. I have wanted to work with the circus since I was a little girl, but never had the resources to do so. When I started researching potential internships I specifically looked for a circus organization. It worked out nicely! SANCA welcomed me with open arms.

SANCA offers a very supportive environment for a newbie like myself. Each coach takes the time to encourage me to keep trying and help me succeed. I’m currently taking hooping classes with Mary and hope to start a path to the aerial arts during the summer session. During the day at SANCA there are so many professionals in the gym, which can be very intimidating, but I have felt welcomed in each class and leave feeling excited that I learned something new. I am eager to see what skills I gain throughout the summer!

My first week at SANCA ended with the opening night of SASS. I was able to see the Friday night show, which I thoroughly enjoyed. With a juggling t-rex, 80s aerobics acrobatics, and a tightwire act involving pizza, all the acts had so much energy that I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the show.

Photo: John Cornicello

Photo: John Cornicello

One of the acts that stayed with me was the bounce juggling by Audrey Greaves. She opened her act by coercing three white balls to roll to her from the right side of the stage. Doing tricks with contact juggling, level changes, and adding her hat to the mix was so much fun to watch.

Audrey’s juggling act was playful and lighthearted; I couldn’t help but smile along with her throughout her performance. She kept calm and nonchalant when the last trick didn’t go quite the way she expected, and the audience continued to cheer her on and support her. I have heard time and time again that physical skills take practice, but to see her amazing bounce juggling live on stage was remarkable. I later found out that this was Audrey Greaves’ first time doing a solo act at SANCA. I had no idea! Instead of walking off stage with an unfinished trick, Audrey stayed to finish it. Her persistence to land the last trick paid off; seeing that determination made the whole show for me.

The thing I loved most about this show’s atmosphere was the audience’s encouragement and support. The audience cheered and applauded for every performance and rooted them on, even if there were mishaps. It’s now my third week at SANCA and seeing that love-encouragement- support thrive throughout this environment has been awe-inspiring. Everyone here at SANCA seems to carry that attitude of keep trying and don’t give up. It’s one of the things that drew me to interning here; having that positive, bright atmosphere is an essential to creating.

Join me this coming weekend for the next show this weekend, The Other Side of the Unknown, a presentation of a year’s worth of work by the Professional Preparatory Program students.

-Kit Kendall

Off to Quebec!

by Amber Parker

Last fall, I was hanging off the trapeze trying as mightily as I could to not let go. I was working towards a 50 second hang, a goal I had been pursuing all quarter. As I hung there, listening to my classmate tick off the seconds I’d been hanging, my eyes scanned the main gym for something to focus on. The clock? No. Kids playing on the tumble track? Nope, that’s not going to work either. Just as I was about to let go I saw a young woman in a handstand, one of her legs in a huge cast. I’d noticed her training in  her cast all week and hadn’t thought much of it. But, in that moment on the trapeze, I was struck by the sight of her, by how amazing she was. I thought, “If she can come here every day and train in a cast, I can get through another 20 seconds. This is what it means to be a circus artist.” I kept my eyes locked on her and gripped tighter. Then, before I knew it, it had been 50 seconds.

This acrobat was Clara Scudder-Davis, a graduate of SANCA’s Professional Preparatory Program and current coach here at SANCA. You can find Clara at SANCA almost any time of the week in a handstand, juggling, stretching into impossible poses, or hanging off the trapeze, working away for hours to perfect her form and hone her skills. When I heard that Clara had been accepted to L’École de cirque de Québec (a prestigious circus school in Canada) and I had the opportunity to interview her for our blog to report on that news, I was excited to have a chance to learn more about this incredible member of our community.

307a79a5-aaf5-45a2-b475-8700eddfce54Clara came to us in the fall of 2014 from Oberlin College in Ohio, where she interested in learning aerial fabric in Oberlin’s circus program. She didn’t have the prerequisite of 30 hours of training to join that program, so Clara turned to SANCA’s Professional Preparatory Program– “I realized that if I wanted to do circus, I was going to need to go some place where I could just learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. So I applied to the P3 program. It was so physically challenging…when I got to P3 it was eye opening.” Clara said that although she had a background in ballet and dance, learning circus skills was a whole other level of artist and physical expression. I sat down with Clara to explore both her experience in the P3 program and the exciting next steps she’s taking as a circus artist.

Amber: “What was the most challenging part of the P3 program?

Clara: “It was hard for me having not been so fit or strong or ever having thought of myself as being strong, to do something where I really needed to be strong. To go through the learning process of how to make that happen in my body was experimental and challenging and very painful. My body went through so much stress that first year, especially because I was training so much where I hadn’t been training before. But, it was totally worth it.”

Amber: “What kept you going during that time?”

Clara: “I was so challenging but also just so magical. Circus is so compelling for me as an art form because it combined every mode of expression that I’m drawn to. I grew up doing dance, I was a singer in middle school and high school, and I did acting and theatre as well. Also, just being super physical is something that really inspires me. Circus incorporates all of that. I’m drawn to other kinds of expression, like writing, but I feel most inspired when I’m being physical.”

Amber: “Oh, definitely. I feel the same. So, tell me about the next step in your career?”

École_de_Cirque_du_QuébecClara: “I’ll be going to the circus school in Quebec, it’s called L’École de cirque de Québec, or ECQ. I got into the prep year so I’ll re-audition for schools next year, which I’m excited for. It’s like circus school at Hogwarts, it’s awesome. It’s in this huge old church with stained glass windows. When I came to SANCA, it was so magical because I had never seen anyone do handstands or drops on fabric or tumble on a tumble track, I didn’t even know what a tumble track was. When I discovered that people could do one arm handstands my mind was blown. I couldn’t even believe that was possible. Stepping into the Quebec circus was like that first feeling I had when I came to SANCA, but even more so. When I walked in there was someone doing swinging trapeze and another on flying trapeze, and then there were people doing double backs on the trampoline. It’s a very lovely and supportive community, and very creative. I really appreciate that. And I’m very excited to learn french.”

Amber: “So, do you have a major at L’École de cirque de Québec?”

Clara: “Yes! In my program I have two disciplines, then there’s a three year program that I will audition for where I will have three disciplines. My first discipline is hand balancing and my second is contortion. I’m hoping that when I get there I will have the option to add classes and build my own program. I want to do some Chinese Pole or some group acrobatics or trampoline. Basically, I just want to do as much as I possibly can.”

Amber: “Wow, so that’s about 4 years of circus school. What do you see happening for you after you graduate?”

Clara: “Right now it feels like a whirlwind to me because I started so recently. I’ve just been putting one foot in front of the other and not allowing myself to be attached to anything. Any sort of opportunity is exciting at this point. But, at the same time, I would love to be able to travel and perform with circus companies like The 7 Fingers or smaller circus companies. I’d like to go Europe and travel and perform, and I’d love to have the opportunity to train in different places. If I could ever go to Mongolia or Russia or China, I would love to be able to train with other teachers and have the be part of the experience that informs my performance. There’s a lot of knowledge out there, and I’m very interested in technique and artistry. I haven’t combined those two things very much yet, so I’m excited to do that. I can see so many ways that circus will be part of my life no matter what happens. Back in September I broke my fibula and that was a big moment of deciding that no matter what happens, circus is something I want to continue doing. In whatever capacity I’m doing it, circus nourishes me and feeds me and is something I just adore. It’s a huge part of my life.”

I was so grateful to have the opportunity to sit down with Clara as she stands on the precipice of this next step in her life, both as a woman and as an circus artist. It was such a privilege to be with her in this moment of transition and I can’t wait to see how far she goes and what lessons she learns during that journey. Along with Clara, one of our current P3 students, Cameron Clarke, will be moving on to L’École de cirque de Québec. SANCA does many amazing things, but one of the biggest things we do here is nurture new artists as they move forward with their goals, whatever those goals may be. What a gift that is to have a whole community behind you, supporting every step you take. SANCA would like to wish both Clara and Cameron the best of luck in Quebec!

Please look for an upcoming piece about our very talented P3 cohort as they prepare for their show, The Other Side of the Unknown, which will be running June 3rd-5th.

The Other Side of the Unknown: Professional Preparatory Program Final Demonstrations

Fantasy, reality, nightmares and visions all twist together in the thresholds of consciousness where the lucid dreams of circus artists defy their prescribed destinies.

Featuring aerial silk, juggling, dance trapeze, lyra, hand balancing, rope, dance and floor acrobatics.

Reserve your seat using Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2550579
Donations welcomed at the door.

SASS: SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase!

SASS poster 2015 042915Celebrate spring at the SCHOOL OF ACROBATICS & NEW CIRCUS ARTS’ Annual Spring Showcase–SASS!

Tickets on sale now at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2510253

Each May SANCA presents a showcase of unique, circus-variety performances with students, alumni, staff, and friends of SANCA. For one weekend only, you can see FOUR super exciting circus shows, each featuring a different line up of spectacular local and internationally renowned circus artists alongside SANCA’s tremendously talented student performers.

With festive musical accompaniment by Doc Sprinsock & the SANCApators, audiences will be treated to daring displays of acrobatics, high-flying aerials, rolling globe ensembles, contortion, juggling, and more!

 

FRIDAY MAY 20- 7pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
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Cirrus Circus
Audrey Spinazola
Ginger & Violet Schreiber
Aimee Storm
Katie Herndon
Katheryn Reed

SATURDAY MAY 21- 3pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Natalie Howells
Aimee Storm
Vertical Axis
Alyssa Hellrung & Ava Vermilya
Maile Gove & Orville Zharoff
Rachel Randall

SATURDAY MAY 21- 7pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Cora Borden
TRIcycle
Beth Baker
Alyssa Hellrung & Ava Vermilya
Rachel Randall

SUNDAY MAY 22- 3pm
The Amazing Circus 1-ders
Magnificent 7
Cirrus Circus
Audrey Spinazola
Beth Baker
Shade Moon
Aimee Storm
Maile Gove & Orville Zharoff

“Running Away to Join the Circus” – and dealing with Parkinson’s

From http://www.parkinsonalliance.org/weblog by guest blogger John Cornicello, a Seattle-based portrait photographer Cornicello Photography and a person with Parkinson’s

It all started a few years ago. I was working for a well-known software company. My job had me at a computer, typing, most of the day. I started noticing some “issues.” My left hand was becoming less accurate — DOuble-caps, repeating letters, things like that. I also noticed that my left arm was pulling in towards my body when at rest and it didn’t move/swing as I walked. My piano playing had been actually getting better for a few years, then all of a sudden it started a dive, too.

My first thought was that I suffered some sort of mild stroke. I got a referral to a neurologist, had an MRI, and things looked good. He had me do some basic movements. Then, as he observed me, he suggested that I might have Parkinson’s. I had no tremors. Just the stiff left arm and some cogwheel type of movement in my left wrist.

I had already been taking Ropinerole for restless leg, so we didn’t change anything there. My diet has never been that great, so my wife and I tried to go radical (for me) for a few months with no sugar, carbs, or gluten. I did lose about 20 lbs very quickly. However, I was starting to get some tremors in my left hand. After three months, I went back to dairy and gluten but have managed to keep away from sugared soft drinks.

Concurrently with all of this I had been photographing for a circus school here in Seattle. SANCA is the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, one of the largest such schools in the world. I became friends with the owners and at the end of a benefit show in February 2015 I casually mentioned that I had Parkinson’s and asked Jo Montgomery if she had ever worked with Parkinson’s patients. She said she had not, but that I should stop in at the school next Monday. And I’ve been there just about every Monday, since.

I was 57 and pretty sedentary when I started this. Jo started me up slowly with stretching exercises. And then gradually started asking me to try more activities. My initial reaction to most of these has been, “You want me to do what? OK, I can bounce on a trampoline and do some jumping jack type of movements, But now you want me to do a seat drop? And then come back to a standing position?” I dreaded the trampoline for about 2 weeks.

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Then it clicked and has become a favorite part of our routine. Next came walking on a balance beam. About 3″ wide and 6″ off the ground. More difficult than expected, but not so bad. I could do that one. Until one day she suggested a tight wire instead. A steel cable about 1/2″ or so wide. Barefoot, Jo would be holding one wrist as I walked back and forth across the wire. I never measured it, but I’m guessing it is a 12 foot distance. Amazingly I did it. And I enjoyed it.

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All of this has built good core strength and improved my confidence.

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So next came juggling. I’ve never been able to juggle. Maybe it is from lack of discipline and practice.

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But I try. Balls, clubs, rings. On my own, I’m really bad. But I found that I can toss 2, 3, or even 5 rings with another person. I believe this routine is helping to make new brain connections that might help with Parkinson’s.
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Then back to stretching. When I first started I couldn’t move my left shoulder. I would hold my left arm out to the side and grab a bar and tell it to move up/down and forward/back. And nothing would happen. I could tell my right shoulder to make all sorts of movements and it would. But the left shoulder would just sit there, completely ignoring my commands. I don’t know if is the medications (I started seeing a movement specialist in June 2015, and started Carbo/Leva in September), or all the other exercises, or a combination, but my left shoulder is finally starting to follow instructions and move around in circles when I want it to.

We also do some strength training by doing pull-ups on a trapeze bar and an exercise where I grab a bar above my head against a wall and pull my knees up to my chest 20 times.

Outside of circus school I have set up my home “triathlon” routine where I do a 30 minute routine that consists of a mile on a treadmill, then spin at 80-90 pedal rpm on a stationary bicycle for the balance of the 30 minutes. Then I take a shower.

All of this has helped me maintain a healthy and positive attitude. I consider myself lucky that my tremors are mostly mild and confined to my left hand so they don’t affect my photography. Yes, I’ve started using a tripod more often, but not all the time. I do worry that my left hand tremor might be a distraction to my subjects if my hand starts banging against my tripod. But I do explain the situation if that happens and all seems good.

This past week I found out that one of the members of SANCA’s board of directors has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and she has joined in on the Monday class. Our first try at juggling rings with each other went remarkably well.

Some days I wonder if I should be more concerned with my Parkinson’s. But so far I have managed to maintain a very upbeat attitude. I really look forward to both the SANCA and the home workouts. And I am somewhat amazed as I learn about more and more friends and colleagues who have some sort of tremors, be they essential tremors or Parkinson’s. This makes me have hope that more people will be learning about these issues leading to more research and the possibility of cures and even prevention. In the meantime, I am now starting to think about boxing lessons with a program like Rock Steady Boxing.

Thank you, John, for sharing your story with my assistant and blogging partner, Gloria Hansen. You are very creative and we applaud your unconventional approach to exercise, which we know is the best medicine for Parkinson’s. — Margaret Tuchman, President of  The Parkinson Alliance

Artists-in-Residence: Acrobatic Conundrum present “Love & Gravity”

April 8-10, Broadway Performance Hall

In this new, thrillingly beautiful work, Acrobatic Conundrum transports audiences to a captivating world seemingly free of the bounds of physics, but not free of the capricious struggle for human connection.

Fluent in the language of acrobatics, this cast risks all on a quest to tell honest accounts from an uncharted territory. Real life romances are portrayed through mesmerizing juggling acts, breathtaking aerial and partner acrobatics — all while balancing on a bar 20 feet in the air! This show will upend everything you thought you knew about these two laws of attraction: Love & Gravity.

Features: Carey Cramer, Terry Crane, Scotty Dont, Erica Rubinstein, Xochitl Sosa, Ty Vennewitz, and local special guests, Alex Allan and Anna Thomas-Henry.

Evening Shows: Advance Purchase $20, Door Price $25
Matinees: Advance Purchase $17, Door Price $22
VIP reserved seating available for all shows: $45, $100

Tickets: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/8470