|This year, as a sort of New Year's resolution, I set forth to try to make it the year of "Yes!", accepting opportunity more readily than I have in the past. That was especially pertinent to my burgeoning circus career. If there's an opportunity, I'm on it. And it led down some interesting paths. Some turned out to be thankless gigs that paid very little. Some were gigs that pushed our limits and made us better performers. Some were hidden gems. And some were, well, just plain new.
It was through this yessing that Della and I found ourselves teaching circus camp to kids on San Juan Island, Lummi Island, and in Bellingham. Teaching circus is something that we've done quite a bit of in the past, both through Chautauqua and as part of festival, parties, etc. But these are always shorter sessions that let kids (and adults!) come and go as their interest waned or was diverted. The circus day camp where the kids get dropped off and picked up many hours later is a whole different ball game, one which we weren't entirely prepared for.
For the most part, it was awesome. There were some amazing kids who were super into learning, being helpful, and being fun! And from the feedback from students and parents, I'd say that the camps were a success, with the kids having a good time and nobody getting hurt*. But kids are kids, and there was definitely more "don't hit her with that", "pick up your trash", and "take that sharp stick out of your nose" than we expected, esp. with the younger kids. I can hardly blame them for not wanting to juggle for 3 hours straight, but it was still a bit of a learning curve.
One thing about the year of "Yes!", you learn a lot. And that has been wonderful. For next year, however, if circus camp opportunities roll around, we'll have more knowledge about what variable best suit our talents and interests. What does that mean, I don't know. But I know that at least for now, I'm happy to going back to just performing for a while.
|Wednesday August 9 2017||File under: circus, juggling|
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|Arrrrrggg! I'm a pirate— or at least I play one in the Bellingham Circus Guild's new production, Something Wonderful. The show tells of a boy taken through a magical world of sea creatures, ship wrecks, dreams, and more. The show is more highly produced than any I've been a part of so far which makes it really exciting. The costumes are top notch and the professionalism regarding timelines, rehearsals, and contracts has been very refreshing.|
Last week, we had our first showing, on the big stage at Western Washington University. The huge stage with all the necessary contraptions, lights, staff, and more made it feel all the more big deal. The show went great, except for a couple drops by the pirates (opening night jitters, I guess). This upcoming weekend, we have a 3 show run at the Cirque Lab in Bellingham. There are tickets still available. The shows are going to be so fun!
The pirates do a juggling bit that involves 2-highs, complicated moving patterns, and a neat little passing the bottle routine. I also got roped into doing a little black suit puppetry as well, a new one for my resume.
While the amount of time spent on this, between rehearsals, teching, etc. has been more than I've been used to in the past (and makes the hourly wage far lower than minimum wage), the experience has been helpful and even fun. I'm proud of the show and I'm excited that it might get staged again in the future, maybe even at bigger venues! In the meantime, I look forward to the run this weekend. I hope to see you there!
|Tuesday May 17 2016||File under: circus, juggling|
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One of the great purposes of this blog has been to serve as a digital scrapbook for my future self. I know that 90-year old me will love sitting in my hover bean bag chair looking through the fun exploits of his former self. It is with that thought that I started my Minor Media Mentions series, snippets of when I've made newspapers, etc. Two such snippets recently showed up. The first is from the Sunday Bellingham Herald dated 1/31/16 about the Talent Show at Mount Baker Theater we were in (blurb and video here). The other is from the super fancy Bellingham Alive magazine from December 2015. The article has nothing to do with us, but it's a pretty fun picture of the street show we did at the Bellingham Night Market.
|Tuesday February 2 2016||File under: juggling, circus|
|Della and I recently had the privilege of performing on stage at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellinghm as part of the Be In The Show community Talent Show. It was a neat event put on by the Dance Studio and served as a fund raiser for Blue Skies for Children, a great charity. Super big props to the folks that put it together. It was well attended, super tight (27 acts in less than 2 hours), and better organized than any event I've ever seen.
For those who don't know the Mount Baker Theater, it is the venue in Bellingham, hosting the biggest names that come through town. To have my 5 minutes in the spotlight on stage there might easily be the highlight of my performing career. Seeing backstage, the green room setups, and looking out at the beautiful hall was quite a treat. And the way it was so well organized made me feel like this is how it must be for a real rockstar. They even put us as the closing act, which only added to the rockstar feel. We had a few drops, but overall, not a bad showing.
Della convinced her intern to get some video for us. Enjoy!
|Saturday January 30 2016||File under: juggling, circus|
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|Della co-wrote and is co-starring in a circus-inspired kids show about eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. The show goes into elementary schools for assemblies and the kids love it (and learn a little something to boot)! They are currently booking shows for the 2015-2016 school year. You should get them to come to your town! Check out the promotional video.
|Tuesday June 9 2015||File under: circus|
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|Della and I just finished our first week teaching afterschool Circus Club up at Mt. Erie Elementary here in Anacortes, and so far, it's been a blast! Each group meets for an hour, 2 days a week and has 18 or so 4th-6th graders. We teach juggling, unicycling, diablo, devil sticks, spinning plates, cigar boxes, poi, and so much more. The kids are awesome: self-motivated, focused(-ish), so interested, and quick learners. And between the staff facilitator, Della, me, the number of kids is very easy to manage.
Circus club runs for 4 weeks. Hopefully by the end of the time, all the kids will have many new skills and lots of appreciation for the circus arts. Della and I, I know, will have a little more teaching experience under our belts, the joy of having shared our skills with the next generation of circus folk, and little money in our pocket. Talk about win-win!
(Forgive the lack of pictures, but the politics of picture of kids in schools is more than I was wanting to deal with. Going through the school's application, hiring, and fingerprinting process was annoying enough.)
|Friday April 10 2015||File under: circus, juggling|
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|Circus, in this day and age, can be any one of many things: artsy skin-tight costumed acrobats of cirque du soleil to traditional elephants and lion tamers to prop based gadgetry to a bunch of hippies putting on a show at their converted rock quarry. But the thing they all have in common, in my mind, is fun. So when a circus comes through town, no matter what the type, I try not to miss it.
Well, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey was passing through town on it's biannual tour of the country, so I just couldn't pass it up. While the animal laden 3-ring variety of circus isn't my favorite, it's still something I'm not wont to skip. And for good reason. While the animal bits were a bit hard to watch (except the tiny dogs atop tiny ponies) and the verve of the hosts and clowns were a bit lack-luster, the skills displayed by the highlighted acts were top notch and the overall feel of the show was fun fun fun!
What made the show even more fun was remembering back to the last time* I went, when we* got to go behind the scenes because I knew a guy. And while the comparison of the last experience to this one shows either that the greatest show on earth is getting a little less great or I'm getting a little more circus snobby (probably due to my constant exposure), having that previous frame of reference was just plain neat.
Yes, I love a circus. If I had my way, I'd be like a deadhead, but for following circuses. Imagine: touring the world seeing the best troupes and acts there were, getting to know the names, the sets, and the details. Yes, if I ever win the lottery, that's what I'll do: I'll become a circus-head.
(It should be noted that part of my disappointment with this itteration of RB + B&B was the lack of juggling. No circus should be without a juggler. So RB, if you're reading this, give me a call.)
|Friday September 19 2014||File under: circus, juggling|
|Of all the program elements of a given stop on the Chautauqua tour (parades, workshops, community shows, etc.), my favorite by far is the "a rip-roaring, balls o' fire, all the bells and whistles, vaudeville variety show", esp. when it is in a small town at a tiny theater packed with an enthusiastic audience. The 2013 tour had only one such stop (as it was more focused more on the institutional/community shows which were more outdoors, etc.).
Our show in Concrete was just plain fun. The theater was awesome, the audience was enthusiastic, and the Big Juggle totally hit (except for the complete yard sale* by Zack and Clay up front.) It's a bit of a bummer that Della and I couldn't do our rope act due to her torn calf muscle, but there will be other shows in other small towns.
Yes, big shows in small towns is what attracts me to Chautauqua tours. I look forward to many more in the future!
|Wednesday August 14 2013||File under: circus|
|As expected*, there hasn't been much blogging time since heading out on tour with the New Old Time Chautauqua. And, as with the past years, only when trying to post about it do I realize how woefully bad I've been at taking photos. But I shall not let that stop me from posting about what a great time we've been having.
Almost as a warm-up to tour (party/community/
After Bobland*, we headed Chumleighland on South Camano Island where the first half of the tour was to be based. Chumleighland, milieu if the old time vaudevillian Rev. Chumleigh, is a pretty awesome place. When not hosting itinerant circus folk, he does an outdoor cinema with old time movies and hosts performance workshops. Oh, and there's a great tiny train.
Overall, tour has been going great. The shows have been good and well received*. Della and I have been performing our rope piece and I've been heading up the Big Juggle (prev. coverage here or rehearsal video here). I've been trying stilts in the parade which has gone...okay.
Anyway, we're ducking off tour for a quick few days to do the Happy Little Farm party (prev. coverage here) and to give Della a bit easier time in recovering from an injury sustained in the most dangerous act ever, the Chair Dance*. To keep up on the happenings of tour, check out the tour blog which does an infinitely better job of covering tour than BdW*.
|Friday August 2 2013||File under: circus|
|It's that time again, time for the summer tour of the New Old Time Chautauqua. This year's tour is exciting for a number of reasons. For one, it is my 5th tour which feels slightly like a milestone. And to celebrate said milestone (at least for me), Della and I actually auditioned an act! It's my hope that we make it to stage a time or two at least. But more importantly, it is exciting because the tour is right here in my backyard*. With stops in Bellingham, the Quarry, Mount Vernon, Camano Island, Olympia, Arlington, and more, this feels like a melding of two worlds close to me: circuslandia and my real world.
Since I know at least a few readers out there are Western Washington based, I wanted to pass along a few of the details before we head out. More information can be found at Chautauqua's website.
I think it's going to be a great tour with lots of great acts, great music, and great fun. It'd be great to see you out. If you have any questions, I'm thinking I might have limited internet from the road, so give a shout if you have questions. Otherwise, I hope to see ya'll on the other side with great photos!
|Sunday July 21 2013||File under: circus|
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