Alchemy and Poetry in Circus Days and Nights

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Alchemy and Poetry in Circus Days and Nights

The show begins. A bearded man’s shadowed profile engulfs the white wall of a fabric tent. Wire figurines of circus performers spiral around him. This whimsical opening signals that the next few hours will be filled with pleasant storytelling. The oom-pah-pah of a bass trombone, and the sweet melody of an accordion are a warm invitation to Circus Days and Nights, the latest collaboration between Tilde Björfors, director of Cirkus Cirkör, and composer Philip Glass. Based on writings by Robert Lax, the production creates an affectual experience. There is rolling poetic text, gorgeous vocal arrangements, stunning circus feats, and delicious design features. But more than anything, I was left abuzz with a sensation that sits amongst and between these elements–a sensation that feels hard to pin down. It’s part nostalgia, part fantasy. It feels like being on a journey–when you are simultaneously propelled by history and summoned by the future, which creates a palpable immediacy to the present moment. 
Lax’s trilogy of long poems, “Circus of the Sun,” “Mogador’s Book,” and “Sunset City,” which comprise his publication Circus Days and Nights, are products of his time spent traveling with and recording the lives of the Crisitiani family in the mid 20th century. By immersing himself in the circus lifestyle but maintaining his role as an observer, Lax extracted an essence of not just circus as a performing art but circus as life. And in reciprocity, his poetry also captures what life has to gain from circus. His poems are valuable ethnographic accounts of acts the Cristianis performed as well as the lifestyle of the traveling production.   ...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline is a NYC based performer, producer, professor, and choreographer specializing in aerial, acrobatics, dance and movement direction. She is an adjunct professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, on staff at Aerial Arts NYC and The Muse Brooklyn and initiated the Aerial program at Muhlenberg College where she taught from 2011 - 2017. Her movement direction contributed to Circle Theater NYC’s production of The Mountain winning Outstanding Original Choreography/Movement, 2015. She co-choreographed The Battles, a musical voted by Broadway producer Ken Davenport one of the top 10 new scripts of 2016. Madeline's choreography has been presented at Dixon Place, Circus Warehouse, BAX, The House of Yes, Abron Arts Center, Times Square, The Flea, STREB, Galapagos, and The Muse. She received BAs in Dance and Theater from Muhlenberg College and is currently studying at NYU’s Gallatin school of Individualized Study where she is designing a master’s degree in circus studies with a focus on dramaturgy and creative processes. madelinehoak.com.