On Saturday, November 3rd, Cirque Wonderland hosted its premiere student showcase. Split into two separate evening performances students and coaches alike were able to display the skills they gained over the months and years.
“Students work so hard in class and we want to give them a chance to showcase their work while also challenging them to go beyond the comforts of the classroom. We also want them to have the rewarding and fulfilling experience of performing and provide them with a creative outlet for their skills,” said Cirque Wonderland owner Felicia Coe.
It was an absolute high to perform in front of such a supportive crowd, everyone was amping each other up and it made me feel like a superstar to have the crowd hooting and hollering for me.
The first show of the evening featured performances from Audra Hartwigsen, Grace Griesheim, Shasha Delight, Claire Welk, Mara Welk, Hannah Limke, and Francesca Geis. The later performance showcased Pascal Isosceles, Hannah Cave, Jessica Duffy, Shasha Delight, Dalton Cave, Brandon Griffis, and Francesca Geis. Both shows also featured Cirque Wonderland coaches Allison Voshell, Amanda Marie Cory, and Erin Poindexter.
When asked why she chose to take part in the showcase, Audra said, “I am a bit shy with movement and acting and I want to change that so that I'm a bit more comfortable overall out in the world. Even though this showcase was early in my lyra experience, I think I would have thought that I missed an opportunity for growth if I would have skipped it.”
She went on to say, “I have not been involved with theater or dance in the past, so performing seemed insurmountable. But at Cirque Wonderland, they made it seem possible. Even though I had only been learning the lyra for five months, I was encouraged to participate and given the knowledge and help necessary to perform.”
Performances included the lyra, trapeze, silks, and hammock. Sasha Delight performed two flow routines and ballet instructor, Kristin Gall, performed a dance piece. The experience was powerful for both students and coaches alike.
“It was an incredible experience. It was rewarding to put together and act and get to show off what I've learned. It was exciting to get to dress up in crazy makeup and create a character. It was an absolute high to perform in front of such a supportive crowd, everyone was amping each other up and it made me feel like a superstar to have the crowd hooting and hollering for me. It was all around fun and I can't wait to do it again,” said student Hannah Cave.
My heart grew 10 times bigger and it brought tears to my eyes to see them in their moment. Their passion, dedication, creativity, and excitement shining through in their performances were wonderful to experience.
When asked about her experience as a coach, Amanda Marie said, “This was a personal experience I had not thought about or even had considered. I was so excited the students perform and have fun like I had my first time performing. I hadn’t considered myself a coach until watching them at rehearsals. My heart grew 10 times bigger and it brought tears to my eyes to see them in their moment. Their passion, dedication, creativity, and excitement shining through in their performances were wonderful to experience. I am so lucky to be a part of this side of aerial. I never imagined my aerial adventure would take me here and I’m so glad Felicia has given me that opportunity.”
While a focus is often on the performances in a student showcase, a lot more is happening behind the scenes.
“A less obvious perk of student showcases is the team bonding. From the late night practices and rehearsals, to backstage nerves and cheering for your classmates as they take their turn on stage; you build these unique connections through support along the way. Don’t get me wrong, what you see on stage is magical, but it doesn't hold a candle to all the magic that happens behind the scenes. I am forever grateful that I get to hold that space and be a part of that journey,” said Felicia.
Welcome to our first Cirque Wonderland Student Spotlight! Today, we introduce you to Kelsey Seay, crafter, photographer, and lyra-girl.
Tell us a little about what brought you to aerial/circus arts?
I was looking for another way to stay active that didn't involve the impersonality of the gym or running (blech). I grew up taking dance classes and was never a star dancer. But I enjoyed the atmosphere in which you were much closer to your classmates like a team, but it stayed a highly individualized study as well. I dabbled in dance classes/groups in college and never had the time to stick with them. After I saw my first aerial silks act, I knew it was just a matter of time until I got sucked into it.
What is your favorite apparatus or class?
Although silks were my primary draw initially to try aerial, I'm a lyra girl. I never thought I'd enjoy static apparatuses, but they give you a bit of freedom from the get go to work on some finesse that I don't feel like I have while I'm still learning fabrics and trying to just hold myself up!
What is a favorite aerial memory?
I'm still fairly new, so just about every time I nail a new move right now, haha. I did my first pull over mount a month or so ago and just about everyone in the class yelled for me, so that feeling of having camaraderie and people really rooting for you to get that mount or pose is really exhilarating to feel.
What do you find most challenging about aerial/circus arts?
As with everything, it is definitely the struggle with mind over matter. I have to stop telling myself I can't do a thing, because in reality I probably can, my head is what's keeping me back.
What are your aerial goals?
To perform on a semi-regular basis. I was in theatre and I miss doing shows, so getting back into a show setting is a big priority for me.
If a friend was thinking of starting aerial, what advice would you give them?
I've tried to convince so many, it's getting them to realize that if I can get myself up there, they surely can too!
When you’re not hanging out at Cirque Wonderland, what do you do for fun?
I like to make things. Crochet, photography, jewelry, you name it. I constantly have 20 different projects going. I even applied to Making It, the crafting contest show with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, I've tried just about every craft discipline at least once. I'm also the Associate Director of the Iowa Brewers Guild and a sales rep for Best Case Wines, so I like to be involved in the restaurant/bar industry. I love a good meal, and a good glass of wine or beer is icing on the cake.
What is something we couldn’t find out about you from Google?
My pupils are naturally different sizes and its actually pretty noticeable in low or really bright light. So if I hit my head and they're actually the same, that's when someone should worry, haha.