Students in the Voice Project, the Circus Project’s performance group focused on issues of social justice, are beginning to work on creation and choreography for their year-end show.
The six students began training together in early Spring. The first half of the program was focused on connecting as a group, developing circus skills, and exploring a social justice curriculum. They attended workshops on the elements of storytelling with Elina Lim, Theatre of the Oppressed methodology with Jeannie LaFrance, and the history of liberation and resistance movements with the Uprise Collective, to name a few.
They are also training hard to develop their circus skills -- participants are engaged in multiple private lessons a week and have uncovered specialties such as aerial fabric, tightwire, tumbling, aerial hoop and Chinese pole. Some students are also taking public Circus Project group classes.
Many of the participants have become more involved with the Circus Project and taken leadership and administrative positions in the organization. For example, Vyx works at the front desk and Fyre assists as a summer camps intern.
Pathways Manager Rhen Miles sees a lot of progress in the students already. “I’m exuberantly proud of them,” she says. “The participants have grown so much. They are stronger and more flexible, and they really support each other as a group.”
As they reach the mid-point of the year-long program, rehearsals will shift focus towards devising the year-end show. Participant Jasmine Taylor is looking forward to act creation. She says, “that’s the meat of performance that I really love - making something with a message.”
Enrollment prioritized people with marginalized identities, and the group includes youth of color, queer and trans identities and people who have experienced homelessness. The creation process will be driven by the participants themselves and they will have the opportunity to pull from their lived experience to create a show that is meaningful to them. First, the group will narrow on a theme and continue to work on ensemble choreography. They will fuse together circus skills, social justice concepts, and team-building work.
The group performed original pieces recently as opening numbers for the Brio and Elements Training Companies’ graduating shows. One ensemble piece used physical theatre and dance choreography to tell the story of a group of people being controlled by a single oppressor. Fyre, a Voice Project participant of Lakota descent, taught indiginous dance elements to the group that were incorporated into the performance. The group may continue to develop this piece for their year-end show.
“I like building communities and in this group we learn about ourselves and each other,” says Chase Milo Reid. “I find this is important. It’s about how we learn and progress and have conversations about our shared powers and vulnerabilities.”
Tina Marie Santiago says, “I feel stronger.”