Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Circus for a New Age 

Yu San (Harmony)

Wednesday, Dec 15 1999
Comments
Old-time circuses that marqueed daredevil performers like Lillian Leitzel, the aerial stunt artist who lost her life to her art, or Isaac Van Amburgh, the first human to stick his head in a lion's mouth, have no place in the philosophy of today's nouveau circus. Shunning the sideshow fare of bearded ladies and five-legged goats, the S.F. Circus aims its human cannonball at the present day's more refined sensibilities. The name of its upcoming show, Yu San (Harmony), invokes the teamwork necessary in the circus arts, and is intended to serve as inspiration on the dawn of the new millennium.

Performers hail from the S.F. Circus School and the well-established New Pickle Circus. The S.F. Circus School, the only one of its kind, attracts students whose levels of ambition range from merely keeping fit to perfecting their professional acts. But many students come specifically to apply themselves to Chinese acrobatics under the demanding eye of trainer Lu Yi, a former performer with the Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe. (Those who've dreamt of running away to the circus but fear death by dismemberment or disaster needn't worry -- as the school's executive director, Patrick Osmond, puts it, "We are not in business to put people at risk.")

In Yu San, students showcase their prowess on the gravity-defying teeterboard, bungie, and the Russian swing. Mixed with these arts will be the more graceful trapeze and aerial hoop performances, and the often underappreciated human contortionist act. Diane Wasnak's famous creation, Pino the Clown, will take her place in the ring, performing the famed backward bicycle ride and other feats of physical comedy and dexterity. Instead of the cacophonous calliope -- that only-at-the-circus organlike instrument whose notes are whistle bursts -- the circus acts will be accompanied by the New Pickle Band, performing an original score by composer Rama Kolesnikow. This week's performances run Wednesday and Thursday at 11 a.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. (opening night), Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. (and continue through Jan. 2; call for schedule) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (between 17th Street & Mariposa), S.F. Tickets are $10-20; call 621-7797.

About The Author

Fiona Gow

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"