Circus Days

Circus Arts Conservatory Goes National

Circus Sarasota gets invited to the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

By Ilene Denton April 21, 2016

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When the Smithsonian Institution set the theme, “Circus Arts,” for its 50th anniversary Folklife Festival in 2017, it turned to Sarasota’s own Circus Arts Conservatory to bring the sizzle.

 The Circus Sarasota Big Top will be erected on the National Mall, adjacent to the iconic Smithsonian Castle, from June 29-July 4 and July 6-9, 2017. It will serve as the main venue for performances by five circus schools from around the country, including our own Sailor Circus.

In addition, there will be mini-performances of Circus Sarasota and of Cirque du Voix with Key Chorale. Among the performers will be Circus Sarasota superstar aerialist Dolly Jacobs; Dolly went to Washington last fall to accept the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

But it will be about more than performances, says Circus Sarasota founder and CEO Pedro Reis. “It’s about the families that came from around the world who made up the body of the American circus—the food, the costumes, the music, the cultural aspects.” Reis says that, each morning, the public will be able to see the rigging, the sound and lighting tests, the moving of props in and out. Coaching demonstrations also will take place. “It will be a very interactive approach,” he says.   

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival each summer. “It’s a huge deal,” says marketing director Beth Graves about the Folklife Festival opportunity. “We’re all excited.”

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