Saturday, January 11, 2014

REVIEW: Half Way Mark Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival

This fledgling circus fest has taken flight in an exciting way!   The performances have been stunning, but beyond that, it's the community that is making this fest something utterly unique and special.   Thursday night we meet folks who had come in from as far away as the Netherlands.  Canada is seriously representing. New York and the West Coast have also sent a number of circus performers and fans.  The networking opportunities have been excellent and we can't wait to see the friendships and collaborations this fest will spawn.   Highly recommended!

Click here for the full schedule, photos and our prior coverage.

Check back with ChiIL Live Shows like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often.  This will be circus immersion week for sure. Catch as many of these live acts as you can & experience the rest vicariously through our pages here and at our more adult sister site, ChiIL Live Shows. 

We've highlighted remaining performances in red so you can locate them easily.   

**ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List--Best Fam Friendly Shows This Week:   American Youth Circus Organization Showcase** Athenaeum Theatre  SUN 1/12/14 @ 1pm
Produced by the AYCO, this show features 40 young artists ages 6-21 from 13 states showcasing their circus artistry.  (*AYCO performers include Chicago youth from Actor's Gymnasium and CircEsteem.   Click the links for loads of ChiIL Mama's original features on both.)

*NOTE: There is partial nudity in Ricochet, the Cabaret shows may not be appropriate for kids under 17, and Honeybuns is an 18 and older show. 

  • Attrape-Moi by Flip FabriQue Athenaeum Theatre: FRI, 1/10/14 @ 4pm SAT, 1/11/14 @ 8pm, & SUN, 1/12/14 @ 5pm

Flip FabriQue is a young organization born out of the common dream of a group of friends, all from the world of professional circus, to create a company which incorporates personal experiences and, above all, utilizes the full potential of each artist. These world-class artists have performed hundreds of shows for numerous companies including the prestigious Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize. Flip FabriQue takes a creative and collaborative approach created entirely by the artist and the director. Embracing the qualities and strengths of each unique performer reveals the magic of Flip FabriQue.

The Way Out is 90 minutes of heart-stopping acrobatics, aerials, theater, dance and video projection. Under the artistic direction of Terry Crane, with choreography by Elizabeth Rose, it is a truly contemporary form of storytelling using the raw physicality of the performers.
  • The Way Out by The Acrobatic Conundrum Athenaeum Theatre THUR, 1/9/14 @ 7:30pm, & SAT, 1/11/14 @ 5pm

The Acrobatic Conundrum Eight strangers find themselves in a room with no exit. They are isolated from the world in a bunker where supplies are scarce. In the absence of enough, the new arrivals see themselves in a different light: vindictive and kind, desperate and hopeful.
With no allies but each other, eight disparate personalities vie for survival, connection, and a way out.


Smoke and Mirrors* by Ricochet (*one of my kids' top picks!  Highly recommended) AND Muualla/Elsewhere by Ilona Jäntti’ Athenaeum Theatre FRI, 1/10/14 @ 7:30pm, & SUN, 1/12/14 @ 8pm
*NOTE: There is partial nudity in Ricochet

Ricochet Weaving delicate metaphor with jaw dropping spectacle, RICOCHETʼs unique brand of poetic acrobatics has taken the world by storm. Using lyric physicality and virtuosic circus technique, RICOCHET draws from rigorous backgrounds of classical and contemporary dance, aerial acrobatics, and the commitment to experimentation and improvisation to explore the internal landscapes of the human experience. The company of two; Cohdi Harrell and Laura Stokes, based out of rural New Mexico, travel the world over performing and teaching. Hailed as being “vital to the growth of contemporary circus in America,” their work has played to sold out theaters from Seattle to Croatia, never receiving less than a standing ovation.

  • El Circo Cheapo Cabaret* by Aloft Circus Arts Athenaeum Theatre  FRI, 1/10/14 @ 11pm, & SAT 1/11/14 @ 11pm

*NOTE: the Cabaret shows may not be appropriate for kids under 17

El Circo Cheapo Cabaret
Starting in the early 90ʼs and continuing through the mid-part of 2008, the New Circus Movement, as embodied by Cirque du Soleil, involved lavish, technically complex productions. But in this post-recession world everyone is trying to do more with less. El Circo Cheapo Cabaret was born out of this moment. 

What is “The Circus” when you peel away elaborate sets and the profusion of special effects? At circusʼ core is the relationship between the performers and the audience. Part vaudeville and part reality-TV, on stage there is the performer, their apparatus, music and the audience: nothing more. The performers communicate with the audience, and the audience, through applause, gasps, tears and laughter, communicates with the performers. This is the framework that El Circo Cheapo began with 5 years ago, and 120 sold-out shows later, it's what makes El Circo Cheapo Cabaret unique—everyone, regardless of education, age, culture or background can, and will want to, participate in it. The result is a fresh and honest show that makes a profound connection with any audience. This is circus as it has always been intended--powerful, honest, dangerous, intense, hilarious and passionate.  This special festival edition is being chosen and planned by the production team at the CCCF and features some of the best circus artists in America.

  • Honeybuns* by Dean Evans Athenaeum’s Black Box Theatre THUR 1/9/14 @ 9pm, SAT 1/11/14 @ 9:30pm, & SUN 1/12/14 @ 6:30pm

*NOTE:   Honeybuns is an 18 and older show.   Don't let the playful costume fool you.   Honeybuns is raunchy, irreverent, and brilliant... and we're not just talking about the hue of his bloomers.   He WILL take you out of your comfort zone.  Highly recommended

Running in Corduroy by Brian P. Dailey Athenaeum’s Black Box Theatre FRI 1/10/14 @ 9pm, SAT 1/11/14 @ 6:30pm, & SUN 1/12/14 @9:30pm

(*AYCO performers include Chicago youth from Actor's Gymnasium and CircEsteem.   Click the links for loads of ChiIL Mama's original features on both.)

American Youth Circus Organization Showcase** Athenaeum Theatre  SUN 1/12/14 @ 1pm

**Produced by the AYCO, this show features 40 young artists ages 6-21 from 13 states showcasing their circus artistry.

Gone but Not Forgotten:
The two pieces below are finished for this fest, but were both phenomenal.   Cherepaka was so intense the audience barely moved or even breathed for the whole 45 minute piece.   It was beautiful, painful and stunning, with minuscule moves and superhuman strength.   I've never seen anything like it. Every other contortion act I've seen has been flowing and sensual so this one is a marked contrast.  It's quite stunning Leclerc, who is one of the most flexible humans I've ever seen, would choose to embody a dying turtle, with an exoskeleton and limited mobility. 

I can't imagine the concentration and level of dedication this piece takes to perform on a physical and on a mental level.  It was at once excruciating and exciting.   We can't wait to see what's next from Andréane Nadere Leclerc.   She's one to watch for for sure.

Cherepaka (the death of a turtle) by Andréane Nadere Leclerc Links Hall THUR 1/9/14 @ 6pm, & FRI 1/10/14 @ 8:30pm


Cherepaka demo from andreane leclerc on Vimeo.

The Rendez-vous by Krin Haglund Links Hall THUR 1/9/14 @ 8:30pm, & FRI 1/10/14 @ 6pm

We had the great pleasure of meeting Krin's mom and 3 year old son at the show on Friday night.  We all slogged in through the slush and rain together and then ended up sitting next to each other for the show as well.   We're very muchly hoping to interview her at some point for our ongoing video series on How Creatives Parent and How Parents Create.   You can click here to access these interviews via our Pinterest Pages.

Her show was one of our favorites of the fest so far.   The tweens and I adored it!   Krin is an uber talented triple threat who sings, does spoken word poetry and has circus skills to spare.   Her strength, childlike playfulness and creativity are truly inspiring.  Her shows for Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival are the debut of The Rendez-vous as a full length piece.

How Creatives Parent and How Parents Create

Speaking of circus parents and balance.   Here's an interview we did for our series with a dad who is on tour with Cirque du Soleil with his wife and children.   If anyone else is juggling and balancing circus life and family life and would like to do a video interview with us, shoot me an e-mail.   We'd love to hear what you have to say!  

ChiIL Mama Interviews Sébastien Savard, Cirque du Soleil Ovo's Violin player, Cockroach, Dad in this original video interview. His children were both born on tour and his family and creative work are inextricably linked.


ATHENAEUM THEATRE, performances will be held in both their main stage and black box (studio 3) theatres. The theater is located at 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60657 / 773-935-6875

LINKS HALL is located in Constellation (the former site of the Viaduct Theater) at 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60618 / 773.281.0824
TICKETS Tickets start at $20.00, and festival packages are also available starting at $135.00. Tickets for all shows (at various venues) may be purchased through the Athenaeum box office 773-935-6875 or online For more information and group ticket inquiries, go to

WORKSHOP CONTACT INFORMATION For more information on professional development please visit For more information on skill-based master classes contact

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SEMINAR OR CIRCUS NOW Please contact Duncan Wall, National Director, Circus Now at US: 347.587.8107 or CAN: 438.936.7503

ADDITIONAL LINKS OF INTEREST Speaking Circus / Chicago  II Speaking Circus / NYC  II Circus Now  An editorial in the NYTimes about the rise of creative circus.

MORE INFORMATION For more information go to

Co-producers Shayna Swanson and Matt Roben and their team have been working collaboratively to curate and produce this first festival with the purpose of creating a new and educated audience for circus in America. The festival is organized as a not-for-profit, with Links Hall acting as itʼs fiscal agent. Festival discussions and workshops are being organized by Circus Now. For more information on professional development please visit

The first of its kind in the United States, The Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival brings daringly moving acts and shows from around the world to perform, teach, and network from January 6-12, 2014. The festival showcases genre-defying companies and performers creating circus in an entirely new, and completely inspiring way. Tickets for all shows (at various venues) may be purchased through the Athenaeum box office 773-935-6875 or online For more information go to

2014 Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival

2014 Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival is the nationʼs first contemporary circus festival, and it flies into the Windy City this January 7-12, 2014. Chicagoanʼs of all ages can experience seven genre-defying national and international circus companies for four days of daringly moving full-length contemporary circus shows, and two late-night cabaret* style performances, as well as workshops, seminars, discussions and parties. Performances will be held in the Athenaeumʼs main stage and black box theaters, as well as at Links Hall. Tickets start at $20.00, and festival packages are also available starting at $135.00. Tickets for all shows (at various venues) may be purchased through the Athenaeum box office 773-935-6875 or online at For more information go to

“Delightful... Go see it!” ~CBC Radio Canada

Click here for ChiIL Live Shows sizable SmugMug Gallery of Original Circus Arts Photos.   Our photo gallery includes an array of Contemporary and Traditional Circus Arts... major players and local favs including:
  • Cirque du Soliel
  • El Circo Cheapo
  • The Actor's Gymnasium
  • The Midnight Circus
  • The Ordinary Acrobat Book Tour-Duncan Wall/Circus Now
  • CircEsteem
  • Ringling Brothers
  • Cirque Shanghai

From tiny, hilarious clown shows to large scale ensemble-based spectacles, from the intimate to the outrageous, the 2014 Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival will blow the doors off the idea that the circus is only a Big-Top, multimillion-dollar extravaganza. Since the mid to late 19th century, the “traditional” format in American circus has been viewed as clowns with big shoes, glittery show girl costumes and elephants standing on one leg. In stark contrast, the contemporary circus (originally known as nouveau cirque), well-established and respected in Europe, Canada, Australia and other parts of the world since the 1970’s, is a mix of human circus skill, theater, dance and music. This contemporary genre of circus tends to focus more attention on the overall aesthetic impact, on character and story development, and on the use of new media, design, and original music, to convey thematic or narrative content provoking emotional engagement.

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