Hand To Hand To Celebrate Contemporary Circus Arts' Present And Future
Hand to Hand, a multi-day festival of contemporary circus arts presented by Circadium School of Contemporary Circus and FringeArts, supported through the PNC Arts Alive initiative, launches May 29-June 3. With local innovators and international stars onstage (and high above it), this weeklong celebration will be Philadelphia's-and the country's-first festival dedicated to this awe-inspiring performance discipline. It all takes place at FringeArts-140 N Columbus Blvd.
Kicking off the festivities is Circadium: Innovations, a dazzling showcase of works from Circadium's inaugural class. Throughout their first year of study, students have been creating an original circus piece driven by a theatrical concept each week. This showcase compiles the best of the best, featuring nine artists in twelve ensemble-based pieces which will include a 6-club juggler, a contortion aerialist, hoop diving, and musical accompaniment, all carried by storylines of competition, friendship, romance, heartache, and self-doubt. These adept circus artists represent the future of American contemporary circus, and this performance will offer lucky attendees an exciting glimpse of what's to come.
Headlining the week is the internationally acclaimed Barcode Circus Company, presenting their first original production Sweat & Ink. The four circus artists who make up this troupe have been described as "circus royalty" by Circadium Executive Director Shana Kennedy, who cites the artists' impressive backgrounds as a reflection of their virtuosity in traditional techniques and prowess for crafting experimental fare. "This is a brand new endeavor for them and the exact type of thing we want to support," she recently told FringeArts. They'll be employing both skill sets in Sweat & Ink, a surrealistic and dream-like exploration of contemporary society's relationship to memory and time. In it, the intrepid quartet utilizes circus disciplines they've built their reputation on-Russian bar, aerial hoop, hand to hand, cigar box juggling-while evoking elements of calligraphy and magic to express the means by which we record our histories and how our brains can remodel our recollections.
After a few days of watching high-flying circus feats, audience members may be itching to try their hand at the arts of the circus (albeit in a more risk-free manner) and on June 2 they'll have a chance to do just that. Circus Midway is a free, outdoor, interactive event that gives attendees of all ages a chance to learn basic aerial acrobatics, juggling, plate spinning, and tight wire, with additional offerings for younger children including circus lasso and balance challenges. Teachers from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will be on hand to provide instruction and supervision. Additionally, the event will feature short circus performances throughout, including one from the school's Youth Troupe.
Closing out the festival is another free event, the only portion of the festival not suitable for young audiences. Test Flights is Circadium's ongoing works-in-progress showcase, celebrating cross pollination of circus arts with other performance disciplines. This special festival edition in the FringeArts theater will feature performances from Kyle Driggs and Andrea Murillo, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, Sasha Harrington and Andrew Adams, Nicole Burgio, and many more.
Prices for individual events range from free to $15. Tickets are on sale and available by phone (215-413-1318) or online at FringeArts.com.