The start of a new year is a great time to look back and see what was accomplished in the previous year. Cirque Wonderland opened its doors in 2018 and hit the ground running. From classes, workshops, to performances, there was rarely a quiet moment at our training facility.
Cirque Wonderland kicked off 2018 with a St. Patrick’s Day Open House. During the event, staff offered tours and demonstrations. We followed this up with a Grand Opening Celebration on May 12th. The celebrations continued with the first ever Student Showcase.
Cirque artists and burlesque performers from around the country provided workshops on a variety of topics. Workshop instructors included Emma Cat, Scarlette Revolver, Lily Rascal, Camille Swift, Tiana Duda, Kitson Sass, and Pistol Prudence. Students were also able to take part in tai chi, ballet, and African dance classes.
Throughout the year, our coaching staff worked to improve their skills. They attended a variety of workshops, classes, and special training around the country.
Acrobatics coach, Brent Aronsen, participated in a 7-day partner acrobatics training with LIFT Acrobatics in Denver. He also completed a multi-month online handstand training program from Jean-Luc Martin of the San Diego Circus Center.
Christa Dickson, Allison Voshell, and Amanda Marie Cory attended a sling, trapeze, and rope workshop. Jason Meijas led the workshop at Kansas City Aerial Arts.
Christa participated in training taught by Julianna Hane and April Skelton in Castle Rock, CO. She also trained at Aerial Arts NYC, Sky Candy in Austin, Texas, and Vertical Fitness in Dallas, Texas.
Our newest coach, Erin Poindexter trained at Aerial Physique in Los Angeles, California. She also placed 2nd in the Aerialympics hosted in St. Louis, Missouri.
Cirque Wonderland coaches and students showed off their skills with public performances. These included Valley Junction Farmer’s Market, RAGBRAI, and the Slaughterhouse Haunted House.
Our first eight months have been busy and 2019 is shaping up to be just as active. With new classes, like Aerial Yoga’ish, and workshops already underway in January, our students have an exciting year ahead of them.
Cirque Wonderland welcomes
Ng is a professional aerialist, circus artist, and mover with a lot of experience packed into a short amount of time. Though he discovered aerial in California, it wasn't until Ng started training at Blue Lapis Light in Austin, TX that he found his calling for expressive, dynamic, aerial movement. Ng is currently based in Des Moines, Iowa,
Ng teaches workshops and performs on his travels, sharing his passion for dynamic, gravity-defying aerial dance. In 2018, he placed 2nd in the All-Star Silks division at Aerialympics in St. Louis, 1st in Professional (silks) and 2nd in Storytelling (rope) at the Capital of Texas Aerial Championships.Nick believes in performances that are emotionally moving and empathetic while still showcasing technique and spectacle.
Ng will offer three workshops at Cirque Wonderland.
Saturday, 1/25 4:30-6:15pm
Intermediate | Silks, Rope, Sling | $65
Want to do a slow hip key roll-up or melt down in your double star? In this workshop, we will look at “c-shaping” and how we can move our bodies in order to resist gravity. By controlling our core and stretching our limbs, we can achieve balance to slow down our descents or roll up our apparatus. We will work on floor and self-spotted hammock drills and translate them into rolling down and several types of roll ups. This can be squeezy on your abdomen, so don’t come with a full stomach!
Prerequisites: Hip key in the air, s-wrap (into windmill or star drops), ability to invert multiple times.
Register for Roly-Poly
Sunday, 1/27 12:00-1:30pm
Intermediate/Advanced | Silks, Rope, Sling, and Straps | $60
Nick loves beats! In this workshop, we will build on the fundamentals of harnessing energy and momentum in order to work with and defy gravity. With controlled dynamic movement, we can discover new pathways and inversions that would be difficult or impossible to do otherwise. We will practice basic beats, explore advanced beats, and discover exciting transitions. Students will be able to practice on silks, rope, sling, and straps to find the subtle nuances of each apparatus and gain a better understanding of beat pathways.
Prerequisites: Be able to invert multiple times in the air. Straight arm hang (grip strength and endurance are very helpful). Knowledge of basic beats is a plus. Working on momentum will tire you out quickly!
Register for DynaBeats
Character Development & Storytelling
Sunday, 1/27 2:00-3:45pm
All Levels | All Apparatus | $65
What brings an act together and moves an audience? What separates a string of tricks from an unforgettable performance?
In this mixed apparatus workshop, we will learn different tools in order to create interesting and compelling acts that will make you stand out from the crowd. We will get comfortable with being uncomfortable, moving our bodies in new ways and thinking about ourselves, environment, and apparatus in different ways to create a compelling story and character. With these in mind, we can influence our movement style and connect to audience and ourselves. Throughout the workshop, we will play creative games and each student will perform short sequences with different qualities. Please be prepared with a short list of simple vocabulary that you could repeat in a sequence several times.
Any aerial apparatus
Prerequisites: Be comfortable moving through 30-90 second sequences several times.
Register for Character Development & Storytelling
Cirque Wonderland Monthly Members and Residents receive an automatic 20% discount on all workshops when they register
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.