For 72 years, students involved with the Circus Arts Conservatory’s Sailor Circus program have amazed audiences with a thrilling spectacle of youth circus arts. In “A Night at the Movies,” audiences can expect to see incredible youth circus artists flip, fly, and soar to new heights while enjoying the music of popular films from throughout the decades and a variety of genres.

Circus fans of all ages will enjoy acts including the Flying Trapeze, Cloudswing, Acrobatic Roller Skating, Aerial Lyra, Rolla Bolla Adagio, Roman Rings—CAC founder and vice president Dolly Jacobs’s signature act—High Wire, Aerial Silks, and more. Audiences will also get to see acts that have been reintroduced, such as the Trampoline Wall and Dance Trapeze.

“The show features a nice mixture of all of the traditional circus disciplines mixed with innovative and high-energy acts,” said CAC head coach Miguel Vargas. “While our primary focus on the coaching side is on skills, the fun happens when you combine the training with the theme and the narrative of the acts. The collaboration between students, coaches, and the creative team—that’s what makes the show special, having all of those elements coming together.”

Image: Cliff Roles

While the pandemic has impacted available audience capacity, it has also served as the catalyst for the CAC to add an affordable digital option, which will mean community members and circus fans from around town and around the world will be able to enjoy “A Night at the Movies” from the best seats in the house—whether their own house or the Sailor Circus Arena.

Jared Walker, creative director for the Sailor Circus who is now entering his fourth year with the CAC, has conceived a show that has been crafted to provide maximum impact for live and video-streaming patrons. Rather than relying on ringmasters to announce upcoming acts, the performance will run more like a movie, with film titles announced on the large screen and three clowns helping to convey the story that runs through the show.

Walker noted that the pandemic definitely affected how the show was put together. “It has definitely forced me to think about things differently: how acts work together, how to incorporate masks into the costumes, and how to compact everything into a 90-minute show with no intermission while keeping everyone as safe as possible," he said.

Image: Cliff Roles

In addition to memorable movie music, audiences will enjoy visual elements from the chosen films, which run the gamut from older classics and movie musicals to animated, science fiction, action/adventure, and superhero films.

The Sailor Circus Academy is the longest-running youth circus arts training program in the country, training students in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Founded in 1949, it is known as “The Greatest ‘Little’ Show on Earth.” The program teaches students more than 30 disciplines of circus arts as well as helps them to learn life management skills, gain self-discipline, bolster confidence, and make a commitment to achievement.

The CAC continues to adhere to stringent COVID mitigation protocols, with masks required, temperature checks, reduced seating, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities (including fogging after each performance), prepackaged concession items, ongoing COVID-19 testing for staff and artists, and more. If necessary, due to COVID-19 concerns or public health mandates, in-person performance dates and times are subject to change.

“A Night at the Movies” runs from Thursday, April 29, through Sunday, May 2, in the Sailor Circus Arena (2075 Bahia Vista, Sarasota). Show times are 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Live tickets are $20–$30, digital tickets are $25, and the show will be available for viewing starting May 14; go to CircusArts.org or call the Box Office at 941-355-9805.

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