Fly Movement Salon
8 p.m. Tuesday (March 1)
Each month, it seems, the Fly Movement Salon at Café Istanbul has become a showcase with a purpose. Previous showcases of circus-arts works in progress — always free and open to the public — have included opportunities to support related efforts. There was the solicitation for donations to help the folks behind “Vaude D’Gras” get their Mardi Gras-timed show off the ground inside Happyland Theater, and then came the push to help Clay Mazing’s Emergency Circus continue its work entertaining Syrian refugees in Europe.
And while this month’s show, on Tuesday (March 1) at 8 p.m., will showcase the works of salon students, the hat will be passed around to support Salon founder/producer, instructor and performer Liza Rose and her impressive springtime trip. Rose, who instructs at LA Motion in the Irish Channel and at the International School of Louisiana’s (ISL) West Bank campus, will compete in the U.S. Aerial Championships on May 13-15 at the Rose Nagelberg Theatre in the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. (See the Facebook event page.) Rose is one of six finalists in the inaugural New and Innovative Apparatus division, where she will compete with her aerial umbrella, which she designed and created in 2009, with an act titled “Parapluie.” (Other categories are lyra, pole and silks.) Rose is among 42 finalists overall from a pool of more than 400 applicants.
“I created this act for the 2010 Seattle Erotic Art Festival for Roger Bennington’s show ‘Cabinet of Curiosities,’ which also starred burlesque star Dirty Martini and Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist of ‘Savage Love’ fame,” Rose said. “I was then invited to perform it (and did perform it) in the Moisture Festival, which is the largest vaudeville and variety Festival in the world. I have also performed this act in “Mezzo Lunatico,” the late-night show at Teatro Zin Zanni in Seattle, and here in New Orleans in the first “Storyville Rising” at One Eyed Jacks in 2013.”
(Watch: Liza Rose promo reel)
At stake is a $1,000 grant and an audition for “Le Reve,” a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. There also will be casting directors from several American and Canadian circuses, including Circus Flora from St. Louis and Cirque Eloise in Montreal.
The competition will be live streamed at upa.tv.
“I am hoping that my involvement in the competition will help draw national attention the New Orleans circus scene, and help establish it as a place for serious artists to create circus,” said Rose, who co-produces the all-female Cirque Copine troupe with LadyBEAST.
Rose’s exploits are further evidence of New Orleans’ growing circus-arts scene, the foundation of which often can be found in the classroom. Rose has been an instructor with ISL’s circus-arts program, which was founded several years ago by Meret Ryhiner in a collaboration with KIDsmART. Ryhiner, a native of Bern, Switzerland, is a longtime veteran of the circus world who was trained in Europe and has performed a variety of circus acts.
(Read more: Circus artists build a bigger top for New Orleans in 2016)
Under her tutelage, ISL students at all grade levels have the opportunity to learn everything from balancing and clowning to acrobatics, juggling and theater. Ryhiner has become such a strong influence that she will help Rose train for the aerial championships. The ISL circus-arts program has gained so much respect that it’s starting to get national attention, recently becoming a recognized Social Circus Program of the American Circus Educators Association. This means, among other things, that it can expand its offerings through the obtainment of more grant money.
(Read more: Check out the press release here.)
“Some of the many things we look for is that the organization or program serves a specific identified “at-risk” population (as opposed to the more common instance of offering general financial aid or community outreach),” said Amy Cohen, executive Director of the American Youth Circus Organization, which oversees social circus programs. “They also must show a dedication to measuring the outcomes of their program to reveal the impact that circus has on the populations they share it with. Measuring outcomes is especially important, as there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about how and why social circus works, but only a select group has been actively measuring the outcomes, something that is worth celebrating and supporting.
“Measured outcomes will serve the entirety of the social circus sector and beyond — those who are currently recognized, and those who are in the process of working towards recognition, as well as recreational programs that aspire to develop their programs to serve specific populations via social circus.”
Zoe Brookes, the lead consultant who worked on the project and recognized the first batch of programs, was impressed with ISL: “We recognize programs that identify a specific population with a specific need, and design circus-related curriculum to help meet that need. We also look for programs with a commitment to evaluating results. The circus program at ISL meets all those criteria.”
Indeed, the ISL program focuses on both diversity and community at a school where more than half the students are on free and reduced lunch programs. According to the school, it follows the National Arts Standards for dance and features circus arts skills. There’s more here:
Emphasis in K-1st grade is on practicing executive skills. Emphasis in 2nd and 3rd grade is on exploring core subjects with circus arts integrated curriculum units. Emphasis in 4th-8th grade on building the skills necessary to use the circus arts medium expressively and creatively, as well as to participate in community events performing and presenting workshops as circus arts ambassadors.
Ryhiner, the ISL’s circus-arts program coordinator, appreciates how as a part-time instructor Rose has been able to duplicate the school’s work at its West Bank location in just a year and a half on the job — all while excelling as an artist herself.
“Circus arts are extremely demanding, athletically. You have to perfect and maintain a high level of skills and mental acuity, and artistically, you have to be inventive with your apparatus, the composition of your act and your signature tricks,” Ryhiner said. “I am happy Liza has made New Orleans her home and brings this caliber of professionalism to the City, and to our community as a teaching artist for the circus arts program at the International School of Louisiana.”
“It’s not burlesque,” Ryhiner said. “It’s circus arts and it’s a wonderful artistic discipline, and New Orleans should have that as part of its palette of colors.”
Tuesday’s Fly Movement Salon’s student showcase will feature the new works by students Becca Chapman, Stephen Kernion, Dallas Alexander, Sean Maloney, Virginia Sibley, Laughing Sky Diamond and Cassie Palmer. Along with Liza Rose, Penelope Little, a fellow Cirque Copine troupe member, also serves as an instructor at the salon.