Nerd Circus with Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

NerdCircuswithAcrobaticaInfinitiCircus

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For those who don’t know, what is Acrobatica Infiniti Circus?

((Mission statement time!!!))
Acrobatica Infinti Circus is Chicago’s first and only nerd circus! We are so pleased to feature a stellar line-up of new and established artists, including contortionists, trapeze artists, jugglers, acrobats and more. Our modern-day mash-up combines traditional circus performance within the context of contemporary Cosplay, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Comicon culture.

Across a range of disciplines and in all environments, Acrobatica Infiniti is, at its root, a nerd circus: for nerds, by nerds. In addition to being a performance showcase, AI Circus is a community. We are a collective of professional circus performers who endeavor to share our talents with the world; working to advance the art form for all who participate.

Building on the nostalgia that the idea of “circus” may evoke, we take you back to your childhood. Embracing our youthful infatuation with imagination and fantasy, we bring fiction into the future, for
adults and youth alike.

Our circus is more than a show; it is a community for like-minded people to share in their love of all that is geek. AI Circus is part of a new movement, building a bridge where, traditionally, one ceased to exist. It is a place for people to connect – to be something and to have an experience – outside of the norm.

Circus and Cosplay is an unusual mix, how did you come up with the idea?

Circus and fan fiction have a lot more in common than you would guess, even if they don’t cross paths very often. Both are cultures that take a sincere amount of heart to be involved in. Both are full of people that felt like they didn’t fit in to a certain ‘norm’ in the world. We share this similar need to be part of a niche community in order to strengthen our interests. This might be why I gravitated to both kinds of lifestyles.

The trend in geek culture is so upwardly mobile right now that it’s exciting to watch as it grows and transforms to include more people. What was once a niche market is a huge industry, and the geeky followers are no longer a minority.  Something is happening that is similar with circus arts, as more people become familiar with taking circus classes, seeing small circus shows, and learning what contemporary circus means.

My personal backgrounds are in both circus and geek culture. At an earlier point in my career, I started making solo themed acts that featured sci-fi and comic book characters, and they became the most popular (and most fun) acts to perform.  Eventually I asked myself: is this something that can include more people? Can we make an entire show of this?

AI Circus is a project combines these two art forms in order to build an arts industry with burgeoning performers, and to bring high quality entertainment to an audience that likely hasn’t been exposed to circus before.

It’s great you’re bringing a fresh idea to the table. Do you have plans for new shows? Themes?

(for example a DC only, Marvel, Sailor Moon, etc)

We have done a few shows that were specifically themed content, to align with certain trends and releases in the nerdy world, such as an all Star Wars show for The Force Awakens.

We can easily do a show with all DC or Anime characters, but part of what the circus is meant to do is merge worlds, and I attempt to create that within the confines of what we would consider ‘canon’ material. The question I ask of each character act that we create is, “What wouldn’t you expect this character to do?”

The best way to keep our material edgy and interesting is to tell a new story with a familiar character. This is where the ‘artsy’ part comes in – it becomes more than just a tribute show, and transforms into something else entirely hilarious and whimsical. We want people to see something they have ever seen before, or never expected to see.

Would you expect to see Bane tapdance, Deadpool fly, and Pikachu twerk? Probably not. But would you stick around to see it if it happened? I think definitely, yes.

You’ve been in the circus industry for over 10 years. Congrats! What inspired you to create your
own project?

Thanks!! I was touring overseas for years, and I had a really great job in my own show. It was a tough decision, but I made the choice to move back to the USA in order to be closer to home, loved ones, and my native culture. I worked primarily in Australia, which is still an English speaking country, but it was never going to completely resonate with the kind of weird and diverse, crazily sideways American culture I grew up with. I missed my nerdy friends!

All joking aside, I wanted to come home and try creating some art, instead of depending on what was already in place. I figure if I was going to try to pitch a show, I needed to find an audience that I not only understood, but that had never been reached.

I read that you make all the costumes. What’s it like creating them?

Circus demands a certain amount of durability and flexibility in a costume that most Cosplay will not allow. Many designs aren’t created in such a way that would permit the wearer to actually execute the things that they are seen doing. (I’m thinking of Aeon Flux!!)

A good example – “No capes!” Edna Mode was correct, capes are a huge liability, as they get caught over your head, stuck in your armpits, and wrapped around your body. When I make a costume for the circus show I almost have to re-design it completely, to allow for actual acrobatic movement. Many of the costumes are tributes or circus renditions of the original character. Good examples: a Princess Peach dress was made into a tiny pole outfit – All of Deadpool’s accessories have to be squishy foam or flat lycra, and we can’t have his big swords in place – our Ewok is a mini outfit with a small waist cloth, furry top, and an orange hat. People can still recognize the characters, and we can bring something interesting to the table at the same time.

Nerd Circus with Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

Nerd Circus with Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

Another example – printed spandex to pay tribute to a traditional Storm trooper, added to hula hoops – creating our Storm Hooper!

What’s been your favorite performance so far?

No fair – That’s like asking me which kid is my favorite! I love them all! Some of the most popular ones though are our Sailor Moon hula hoops, Totoro juggling, and Elastigirl contortion.

Nerd Circus with Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

What’s your favorite character you’d added to the lineup?

One of my favorite characters so far is the Totoro act. I managed to create two costumes, one is a big round suit, and the other is a dapper gentleman Totoro complete with top hat. The balls that he juggles are soot sprites!! (also made in house)

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Another recent favorite addition is Gwenpool – the love child of Deadpool and Gwen stacy. Fun costume to make, excellent character to put in an act!

Nerd Circus with Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

What’s a character you’d like to add?

I’d love to add a bunch more video game characters. I’m a huge fan of Mario Bros, and while we have a Peach and Mario/Luigi team, I’d love to make a Yoshi costume that stands up to acrobatic use. We are planning on adding a Spiderwoman aerial contortion act in the August show, as well as some mini Bane segments. Things in newer Comic fiction, Animes and video games are what I have my sights set on – Overwatch, Mass Effect, Homestuck, and Jessica Jones are a few.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We are always trying to branch out to new events and cons – we urge our fan base to write to their local cons and request our presence! We toured as far as Arizona this year, and we’d like to make it out further each year! Our lineup grows locally each month at each Uptown Underground show, and we take the most popular acts to the big shows. We are always open to requests and recommendations for new characters, themes and ideas! Write in to us at contact@aicircus.com to give feedback:
tell us what you liked about a show you saw, or to ask us a question!

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Michelle L. Jensen
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Blogger, fangirl, cosplayer, and most importantly, a nerd. She's also the creator of Nerd Out.
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