The Big Juggle Finale

On the last two Chautauqua tours, we've had a lot of jugglers. From that stemmed the idea of getting a huge blowout piece with as many jugglers on stage as possible to finish the show. Well, it was a hit and has been in just about every show since, whether on tour at a small community show or big public show, or at the various benefits we have throughout the year.

The pattern is simple. As many jugglers as we have, we pair off in twos. It is 5 throws on a 4 count with your partner, finishing with a self double and tada. Center stage is a two high (or a couple two highs) that leads things. There's also a fun hectic buzzing/getting to position part. Basically, it is super fun.

This weekend Chautauqua did a show/workshop/parade combo at the Stillaguamish River Festival and, sure enough, the big juggle finished the show. This time around, we only had 16 or so jugglers on stage, as opposed to the 22+ during tour, but it was still a great spectacle. It is great hearing the "oh my"s from the crowd as we raise our clubs and start.

The group juggle, which I seem to be the default for heading up, is a ton of fun and totally embodies the Chautauqua fun-loving spirit. Maybe it's this 45 seconds of stage time that is helping me get over my not-a-performer hang-ups so that I can fully participate in all the glory that is the circus!
Tuesday August 14 2012File under: juggling, circus

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Happy Little Circus

I may have mentioned a time or two that I'm not really a performer when it comes to circus*. I do, however, make an occasional appearance on stage when the situation is right. This past weekend at the Happy Little Farm party in Conway, it was perfect.

A "party" doesn't really describe it, because it is much more: with bands, circus, pot luck, rock paper scissors, camping, etc. But it isn't quite a festival: not advertised, no tickets, no wristbands, mostly friends and friends of friends. It is really the perfect mix. So the last two times they've asked me to put together a show, I've been stoked to do so. The performers that I rope* in seem to enjoy themselves too. That I would get on stage in a show that I produced* in a fun, circus-loving, low pressure atmosphere only makes sense.

We had juggling, music, hat tricks, mime, fire, balance, and more. Della and I did a rope act that is shaping up to be pretty dang neat. Keep your eyes peeled for it at August's Vaudevillingham.

In conclusion, circus is fun, and the Happy Little Farm party is one I hope to keep circusing at for years to come.
Tuesday August 7 2012File under: circus

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Chautauqua 2012 in Pictures


Being so busy and having so much fun is kind of a mixed blessing. It is wonderful in the moment, but afterwards, I find myself wishing I had taken more pictures and perhaps submitted a blog post or two more. Such was the case with Chautauqua tour 2012. I did wrangle a few photos and post them here for your viewing pleasure (and my archival pleasure too!) Be sure to check out the captions for context



Thursday July 26 2012File under: circus, pics

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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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