Aerial Circus Performance...yes please 🙋🏾♀️
Did you know my song Don’t Wait will be featured in an aerial performance? The Graveyard Show (featured by Quark Circus) is a boot-strapped, backyard, socially-distanced circus show about grief, death and healing.
This week, I sat down with Elizabeth aka my sister from another mister, to talk about artistic passions and ghosts. Keep reading…
When did you first become interested in aerial circus?
I’ve been some kind of acrobat since I was 5 years old, first a partner acrobat and then a springboard diver. I fell in love with aerial dance through Aloft Circus Arts in Chicago. It’s a long story that involves an ethnomusicology class, recovering from at least two kinds of trauma, and a run-in with the arson squad. It was utterly glorious.
How long have you been practicing aerial circus?
I’ve been training aerial silks since about 2005, and straps since 2010. And acrobatics since 1990. We’ve been working on this show since June.
What are your long-term goals as an artist?
I want to make acts and shows with unexpected juxtapositions and honest messages.
How has your ability to practice aerial been affected by COVID-19?
COVID has been incredibly disruptive to the industry as a whole, and performing arts in general. Gyms and studios closed down and while they’re slowly reopening, we’re a long way off from live theatre being safe. I had a show I was preparing for in May, and that went out the window. My personal practice has moved into friends’ backyards, and I am EXCEPTIONALLY lucky that I have that.
What is your “day job”?
I’m a biologist! I study how genomes work, to help understand and treat diseases like cancer. Most, but not all of my cast mates also have day jobs.
When did you and KiTTN first meet?
It was definitely in 1986, but I don’t remember it, because my first word was her name.
In what way did KiTTN’s song Don’t Wait inspire your performance?
I loved the feeling and message of her song. The point of the song, as I hear it, is that life is fragile and it’s up to us to make it beautiful while we’re here, and that bled really nicely into the message I wanted to convey in the act. And her music makes me want to move. The energy of the song pushed me to be crisp and clean and bouncy in my movements, and to find gestures that were punchier than my usual style. It was an absolute joy to work with.
Where did the concept for The Graveyard Show come from?
I started writing a show about ghosts when my grandmother died. I wanted to talk about the ways we carry our ghosts with us through life. When my grandfather started struggling with dementia, that concept got refracted by the disease: in a real way we saw him “go” before he was fully gone. So I was dealing with the clean grief of loss, which isn’t ever really clean, and the even messier vision of my grandfather slowly losing parts of himself while he clung to the shreds. And then 2020 hit, and in so many ways it’s just been a year of collective trauma and unjust death, and I moved my training to a friend’s backyard, next to a tiny graveyard. It seemed like if I was ever going to actually do that show about ghosts, this was the right time. We’re going to have scars from 2020 for a very long time. The best we can do right now - along with voting, and getting out in the streets, the thing that allows me to get out in the streets - is to turn that trauma and pain into something, if not beautiful, at least whole. Intentional.
How can we watch The Graveyard Show?
We’ll be doing a livestream and an online meet-and-greet with as many of the performers as I can wrangle on 10/30! If you’re in the DC area, we have a few spots left to be a live audience for the filming on 10/17 and 10/18 — socially distanced, fully masked, and outdoors to prevent disease risk. For tickets, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-graveyard-show-tickets-119375187399
I hope you all are as excited as I am to experience this utterly fabulous representation of gymnastics, dance, and the circus arts.