Local students to be circus stars

Published 11:01 am Thursday, March 14, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Starfish Circus is coming to the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, and participation is open to all students in the southwest Michigan area. The show will go up in two weeks, with students auditioning Friday, April 19 (no experience necessary) and performing shows May 4 and 5 at the Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center. In the days between, the new circus performers will train with professional circus coaches, learning to balance each other in acrobatic poses, climb and wrap themselves in aerial silks, hang from static trapezes and build comedy scenes.

“On April 19, we’ll do a workshop-style audition, where everyone gets to learn simple skills on trapeze, aerial silks, hula-hoops, partner acrobatics and more — and no-one has to stand in front of the group alone,” said Starfish Head Coach Allison Williams.

With a tight rehearsal schedule planned, students will work like circus professionals.

“We switch from building basic skills to working on choreography, and between individual and group work,” said aerial hoop coach Marina Petrano. “The fun comes from accomplishing amazing things with your fellow performers.”

Rehearsals will be after school each day, with each student doing a two-hour rehearsal with their act group.

Students will learn choreographed routines on aerial silks and trapeze, group acrobatics and traditional opening and closing “Spectacle” numbers, while leaving room for individual creativity in comedy and specialty acts.

Auditions are open to all students and recent grads ages 4 through 21 from Dowagiac and surrounding areas. Students should come dressed to run, jump and play, and with any props for special skills they want to show, like hula-hooping, parkour, baton twirling or breakdancing.

“We never know what we’ll get until they audition, but there’s always some very unique skills that get featured in the show,” said coach Shani Blueford.

Auditions are 10 a.m. to noon Friday, April 19, for elementary students and noon to 2:30 p.m. for junior high and high school students. For more information on auditions, readers can contact Mark Daniels by emailing mdaniels@wsd.net, or by emailing Allison Williams at info@starfishcircus.com.

New this year are two non-performance aerial silks workshops that will be open to adults only at 7:30 p.m. April 17 and at 4:30 p.m. April 18. Starting low to the ground, come learn basic aerial silks and hammock skills. Classes are $25 each or $40 for both.