What a circus!

In parenting world, circus marvels are never more than a few steps or a couple of minutes away. Balancing the needs of vastly different siblings seems a sort of high wire act, while handing off the baby care baton mid-diaper change is an entirely different feat. The endless dance between dirty dishes and clean feels more challenging than trapeze work, and acrobatics look easier by far than enforcing curfews or limits on the digital daze.

The Australian troupe Circa performs at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this month

Seems circus fare is all the rage in performing arts world these days, though traveling three-ring shows of the sort I grew up with are few and far between. Folks with a penchant for circus arts will be pleased to know that several circus acts are headed our way — none of them involving our children, spouses or partners.

A company of “new circus” artists out of Australia performs a family show at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Sat, March 17 — described by the venue as a blend of “bodies, light, sound and new media.” Seems the troupe’s seven members, who call themselves Circa, “perform daredevil acrobatics and tumbling, thrilling dance moves and impossible contortions” — all “synchronized to stylish music.” They’re also presenting a pair of adult shows for those who favor more mature fare.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents an “Arts Connect” student matinee called “Circa: 46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes” Tues, March 13. Billed as “circus without the boring bits,” it’s a family-friendly performance featuring “a lightning-fast display of extreme tumbling, juggling and balance.” That’s all good and fine, but can they convince our children to stop erasing the chore chart?

A Canadian troupe brings 7 Fingers: PSY to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in May

Another bit of “cirque nouveau” hits Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts May 18 and 19 as Canadian circus artists 7 Fingers “use the life-affirming language of the circus arts to…take a humorous odyssey through a shifting landscape of distorted visions, fading dreams and fractured memories.” Sounds a tad like the artistry of giving “the birds and the bees” lecture, or the lingering trauma of teaching your own teens to drive.

In addition to “7 Fingers: Psy,” the group is presenting a “Circus Workshop with 7 Fingers” May 18 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s limited to 40 participants ages 12 & up, and a “basic knowledge of gymnastics is suggested.” Never mind that you can balance twins while buying groceries and sipping a latte. That doesn’t count. Folks who attend should wear clothes they can move in, and be ready to learn basic circus tricks skills like tumbling, hand balancing and building human pyramids.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus performs June 27-July 2 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, so Valley families can enjoy a diverse assortment of circus performers in coming months. Folks eager to give the circus arts a try can check out the Circus School of Arizona in Scottsdale or circus camps like those offered by RAK Camp Fair participant Independent Lake Camp in Pennsylvania.

Let’s face it, there’s at least a little bit of circus in us all.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the American Youth Circus Organization, and here for information on May performances of “Big Bug Circus” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater.

Coming up: 100 + shows and plenty more to go…

Update: I learned while reading The New York Times that 7 Fingers is working with folks developing a revival of Stephen Schwartz’s “Pippin” (one of my daughter Lizabeth’s favorite musicals). There is, after all, magic to do. 3/9/12

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