30 Club 12 Nipples

What happens when you take a whole mess of good jugglers and send them on the road but with limited juggling opportunities because eastern Oregon is so dang hot? Well, late night juggling sessions in warehouses tend to arise. This was at about 1:00am the night before our John Day show. Good good times!

This session inspired an act for the Ben Show (our for-our-eyes-only self satire show) that involved more clubs, more nipples, and burlesque moves! I'll have to look around to see if video from that survived.

(To see a larger size video, click here)
Thursday July 19 2012File under: circus, juggling

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Chautauqua Goes to Jail

It's not often that I get to go to jail*. Well, chalk up another life experience to running away with the circus!

On Chautauqua tour, we do a combination of big shows in local theaters and smaller shows in community spaces (assisted living facilities, children's groups, and jails). My first three tours, we never made it to a jail show, for whatever reason. This year, however, we have 2! Let me tell you, they are awesome!

At the first [minimum security] facility, we had no stage, no lights, and no microphones. The audience sat in the grass or stood. Backstage was behind a tree. But despite all that, it was easily the best show I've been involved in. The inmates really really appreciated it. They clapped, hooted, and laughed when appropriate and were nothing but the best audience one could hope for. The audience participation bits were even more hilarious than usual because everyone knew everyone else. So much of a show is in the enthusiasm of the audience. This enthusiasm was off the charts.

While the scene and stage was very different at the second [medium/maximum] facility (we performed indoor in the chapel with the audience neatly seated in chairs], the enthusiasm, behavior, and appreciation of the audience was just the same. There was a lot of laughing, smiling, and cheering going on. Afterwards, we all formed a line to accept their hearty handshakes, joke about the show, and mingle. It was great.

Yeah, going to jail is pretty awesome. Here's hoping it becomes a part of every Chautauqua tour!

(To read more about this year's Chautauqua's tour, check out our official blog here)
Monday July 2 2012File under: circus, travel

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Chautauqua Tour 2012

It's that time again, time for the New Old Time Chautauqua's summer tour! This year, we are headed to Eastern Oregon, and I couldn't be more excited about it. I recently cruised through there and it is gorgeous countryside with lots of good people (not to mention all the good people we'll be traveling and juggling(!) with)!

This year I've turned in my chef's hat for a clipboard and will be doing some logistics work. I've spent the last 4 or so months helping to plan an awesome tour and it will be great see it all come together. If you have any friends or acquaintances in Eastern Oregon, send them our way! The schedule is below. Any questions you can send my way. Otherwise, follow tour on NOTC's blog (hopefully with the occasional post here on BdW!)

Baker City - Saturday, June 23
noon: Parade from Main Street to Geiser Pollman Park
1:00-3:00 Free Workshops in Geiser Pollman Park
7:30 Vaudeville Show at Baker City High School
***
Enterprise - Thursday, June 28
4:00: Parade to Farmer's Market
7:30: Vaudeville showat the OK Theater
Friday, June 29th
noon-3:00: Free workshops & band performance at Watershed Festival at Wallowa County Fairgrounds
***
Pendleton - Saturday, June 30
noon: Parade down Main Street
1:00: Free Workshops at SW 4th and Court Avenue
7:30 Vaudeville show at the Vert Auditorium
***
John Day - Tuesday, July 3
Noon: parade down Main Street
1:00: Workshops at Grant County Fairgrounds
7:30 Vaudeville Show at the Grant County Fairgronds
***
Bend - Friday, July 6
1:00 Workshops at Bend Circus Center
6:00 Parade from Wall Street to Mirror Pond Plaza
Saturday, July 7
7:30pm Vaudeville show at the Tower Theater
*****
Tuesday June 19 2012File under: circus

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An FKB and Zinzanni Weekend

Seeing a professionally produced* circus show always gets me excited. Seeing two such shows on back to back nights is a real treat! This weekend, I had such a treat courtesy of the Flying Karamazov Brothers and Teatro Zinzanni.

The Karamazov Brothers show was great. It was a nice mix of old routines that I know and love and new tweaks, lyrics, etc. And, like any act you see many times over again, there is always something new to see. This time, I heard a joke for the first time (that I am told has been there for ages): in reference to a Latino insurance company, calling it "Yoyd's of Mexico"*.

Zinzanni was really special. The atmosphere and the decor compliment the show wonderfully. We got in the spirit and got all gussied up as well, a fun once in a rare while treat for me. There were some really great acts (poi tap dance, chinese pole, 3-high acro, hula hoop, contortion dance) and it was tied together well, although a little song heavy for me. And there wasn't nearly enough juggling. Circus without juggling shouldn't even count.

Anyway, if you are looking for a fun night out on the town*, check out FKB at ACT until Feb 12 or hit up Zinzanni, which is pretty much always showing.
Saturday February 4 2012File under: circus

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Perpetual Marching Machine









Who doesn't love a good parade? To promote their upcoming run at the ACT theater in Seattle*, the Flying Karamazov Brothers organized a parade through downtown last weekend. It was great fun! The highlight, some might say, was when we ended in the Convention Center on the escalators, in a perpetual marching machine! With as much fun as we were having, it could have gone on for a long time. The security staff at the convention center, however, didn't quite agree. I guess that answers the age old question of who doesn't love a parade.

Anyway, if you are looking for a good time, check out the FKB show at ACT Theater.

Oh, and you can see me juggling in the parade dressed in an orange petticoat and wig, headed up the up near the beginning.
Tuesday January 31 2012File under: video, circus

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2012 Bellingham Circus Guild Calendar

It's that time of year again, time for the Bellingham Circus Guild calendar FUNdraiser. This year's calendar marks the 3rd year we've solicited photos from members, slaved away at photoshop*, and haunted kinkos in an attempt to share some fun and maybe make a little bit of money.

This year, we decided, instead of one layout and just dropping photos in, we would create 12 different layouts. Sure it's 12 times the work, but hopefully it will be a lot more fun. From all the feedback we've gotten so far, it is.

Where can you get one of these fine pieces of wall candy? you ask. Come to December's Vaudevillingham and you won't be able to walk out the door without being capitalistically assaulted to buy one. Or, contact me. I know a guy. The tentative price is $10 and it goes to help support the Cirque Lab, the practice/performance/teaching space for the Bellingham Circus Guild. So get yours today!

Because I think the whole thing is so freaking neat, here are few previews: August and June. To see more, buy a copy! Or have a look at 2011 or 2010.
Friday December 2 2011File under: circus, misc

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Local Farms on the Road

My Chautauqua world heavily revolves around food: when and how to serve it, what food choices will piss the fewest people off*, how much money to spend on it, and where to buy it. Over my past 2.5 tours as kitchen manager, I've tried to incorporate local farms (usually organic) as the source for most of our produce. While the logistics of finding a farm, getting out there, and working with the sometimes limited veggies that are in season can be difficult (esp. with so much fun circus stuff happening that I would love to be a part of), the choice has been a rewarding one for me.

On this tour, I found my way out to at least 5 local farms (nearly one in each community) and walked the fields with the farmers seeing what was ready for harvest. Some farmers just heap the veggies on us, letting us just have past-their-prime veggies. After freshly cutting us kale, cabbage, zucchinis, and plenty of lettuce, Ed in Talkeetna couldn't stop himself. "I'm sure you could find a use for some rhubarb", he said*. And then, with our arms full and almost to the car he insisted we take a bunch of flowers too. When I came back for a second load of whatever he had a few days later, I left him with a couple of comp tickets to our [3+ hour] show.

For me, the health/taste/freshness argument for shopping at local farms doesn't resonate strongly, but knowing the people and story behind at least part of the food I serve does. And since Chautauqua is so much about enriching communities whether through service, performance, or education, participating in the local economy just makes sense.

(On a personal note: if I don't see kale, zucchini, or cabbage for the next 3 months, I won't be disappointed.)
Monday August 15 2011File under: circus, food

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Bumpy Road to Alasqua

The Al-Can highway has much myth and lore associated with it, at least in my mind, Being that far away from services with wilderness that close at hand could lead to all sorts of fiascos. For the 2011 Chautauqua tour, all of the fiascos occured before leaving the inhabited land near the border.

Fiasco #1: I've now run away with the circus 4 times. A solid 3 of those have come complete with bus fiascos*. The bus fiasco this time went like this: our bus was supposed to leave Eugene Oregon Thursday morning to meet many of us in Bellingham on Thursday evening. About 5 hours after they were supposed to leave, I got a call saying "once they install the driver's seat and find some side mirrors to install, they'll be on the road". This means the bus hasn't been actually driven in a while which can't be a good sign at all. It turns out it wasn't. On attempting to pull out of the garage, the brakes locked up and wouldn't let go. It took 2 days and lots of hand wringing before things were fixed and on the road north. So while the tour was only 24 hours behind schedule (before even starting), we also lost a valuable day of work on the bus (installing bunks, properly packing, etc.)

Fiasco #2: I cross in and out of Canada frequently enough to forget that it can be an issue for some people. In our case, the "some people" happened to be one of our drivers who had a minor infraction 30 years previous regarding an anti-war protest. In Canada, however, it wasn't so minor, I guess. So at 3 in the morning, we were told that while the bus, truck, and 38 of our 39 members could pass, one of the only totally integral people for the drive to Alasqua couldn't. A switch of border crossings and a little sweet talking later, we averted that potential deal breaker.

Fiasco #3:The majority of the Al-Can highway doesn't really have cellphone reception. That doesn't sound like a big thing but when it has becoming so completely ingrained in our culture's planning, it can be an issue. In this particular case, our caravan got slightly separated due to an unscheduled pee break. The drivers of the uHaul didn't know of the upcoming only turn of the whole trip, so they missed it. We were on the edge of cell phone range and thought that, if they didn't get the messages we left, while we might end up in Alaska, our stuff might end up in Quebec. Again, after much roadside conference, hand wringing, plan B-ing, and more, the issue was resolved when someone came running out of the bathroom (with pants still mostly down) announcing excitedly that contact had been made. Two hours later, the caravan was reunited and back on the road.

While perhaps "fiasco" is a strong word for these events, it sure felt pretty extreme, although it was probably compounded by the lack of sleep*. And, aside from a few close calls with hitting moose or bears in the road and almost running out of gas 14,239 miles from the nearest gas station, the rest of the trip was fiasco-free! With the trip behind us, now we have the rest of tour to look forward to! Stay tuned!
Wednesday July 27 2011File under: circus, travel

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Chautauqua Goes to Alasqua

It's that time of year again, time to hit the road with a group of amazing people to camp, cook, and live completely outdoors doing shows, parades, and workshops in small towns along the way. The New Old Time Chautauqua 2011 tour is headed to...ALASQUA*!

While I'm excited for all the vaudeville/circus fun to come, I haven't quite gotten my mind past the epic trip that is entailed to get 50 people and all their camping and performing gear to our country's northern most state. While a few members are already there or are going to fly up, 39 are slated to go by bus via the Al-Can highway. Over 2000 miles in 3 days*. How many pee breaks, hot springs, border crossing issues, and peanut butter and jelly sandwichs are we goign to tally up? Probably a lot. No matter what the count, watch out Alasqua, here we come!

(For previous tour posts, browse backwards for 2009 and 2010. Or check out Chautauqua's official website to learn more.)
Wednesday July 20 2011File under: circus

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Most Mira Recap

How do I sum up a week spent volunteering at the Most Mira festival, an arts festival for kids in NW Bosnia to promote peace by teaching children to play and create together? Well, I can tell you now, inadequately. But I'll try here with a 3 pronged approach.

Prong #1 - the Kids: Kids are kids the world over. They like to laugh, to play, and the circus*. The fact that we didn't share a common language* didn't stop them from learning just about every trick I could remember in my diabolo workshop. Gestures, high-fives, smiles, and a universal "bravo" go a long way. And at the end of the week, what a better way to celebrate new skillz learned, friendships formed, and smiles had than by putting on a show under the big top. (Oh, and it wasn't just kids that like to learn and play...)

Prong #2 - the People: One of the things that made Most Mira so wonderful was the other volunteers I got know. How often is it that in a single day, one can have a meaningful conversation about European politics, get a lecture on the gypsy language Romani*, give an impromptu clown/juggling performance with a perfect stranger, watch more hands than necessary go up for any task that needed to be done (no matter how unpleasant), and fall asleep to amazing drum music? Well, at Most Mira, that was pretty much every day.

Prong #3 - Bonuses: Outside of the magic of the festival, there were all sorts of hidden bonuses. Just one example: we got to attend a performance of traditional folk dance/music as the guests of honor (where, among others, I ended up on stage doing a club passing routine with some of my clowny friends).

See? A totally inadequate summary. But fitting an experience that big into just a few words is just downright impossible. I guess to get the full story, you'll just have to ask me about it sometime. I'm happy to share!
Sunday May 22 2011File under: Balkans, circus

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