San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival 2020 Video Project
In this innovative and collaborative video project, Zaccho Dance Theatre brings together 16 international aerial artists to tell a collective narrative during this time of uncertainty and social chaos. Taking place on mountain tops, old forts, bridges, and in gardens, this work reveals an intimate perspective of the world we are navigating.
This final video will premiere here online for free on December 19, 2020.
Special online Q&A panels featuring the aerial artists will be hosted December 19th & 20th on Facebook.
Video by Joanna Haigood and Mary Ellen Strom.
In collaboration with composer Walter Kitundu and aerial artists Veronica Blair, Lindsey Butcher, Beth Clarke, Terry Crane, Joana Dias, Pamela Donohoo, Deon Fox, Jo Kreiter, Jodi Lomask, Wanda Moretti, Amelia Rudolph, Alice Sheppard, Xochitl Sosa, Jason Span, and Julia Taffe.
Veronica Blair is a professional aerialist with over 15 years of performing and teaching experience. She is currently Aerial Director for Celebrity Cruises Entertainment
Expanding her portfolio beyond performing, Veronica launched the development of “The Uncle Junior Project” in 2010. The ongoing documentary shines a light on the careers of African-American circus performers, including Emanual “Uncle Junior” Ruffin who remained largely uncredited for his contributions to American Circus until after his death. In 2010, she was invited to speak at the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival about her experience as producer and director of “The Uncle Junior Project”, and served as organizer and moderator on a panel highlighting the African-American circus experience. She’s also worked with the African-American Art and Culture Complex to stage "Entrapment to Entertainment: A Celebration of Blacks in American Circus", a three-month exhibition that ran from October, 2013 – January 2014 with over 1,000 attendees.
Since graduating from London Contemporary in 1984 Lindsey has worked with numerous dance, theatre and opera companies as a dancer, aerialist, teacher, mentor & choreographer.
Her dance credits include; Extemporary Dance Theatre, Walker Dance/ Park Music, Darshan Singh Bhuller, Vincent Dance Theatre & Siobhan Davies Dance Company.
Circus credits include; Ra-Ra Zoo, Gandini Juggling Project, The Dream Engine, Scarabeus, Momentary Fusion, Fidget Feet and Upswing to name a few.
As a dance and aerial practitioner she has over 36 years of professional practise and has been creating vertical-dance for almost 20 years. In 2003, (after winning the Jerwood Award for Circus), Lindsey founded the aerial dance company, Gravity & Levity (G&L) to provide a vehicle for her artistic vision.
What drives her work is a passion and curiosity for combining dance and aerial suspension techniques to liberate and intensify the possibilities of each.
Under Lindsey’s direction, G&L have created 3 full length touring aerial dance productions, an outdoor piece and several site-specific commissions and won the Dance for Camera award and are currently touring a re-creation of a piece they made 15 years ago, vertical dance duet ‘Why?’
G&L also founded and run the annual European Aerial Dance Festival in August and have just completed their 10th year.
Much of Lindseys’ aerial choreographic work over the last 20 years has been 'building based' vertical dance commissions and she teaches master classes both in the UK and Internationally; France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Canada, Panama & Brazil.
She is also a founder member of the Vertical Dance Forum, a transnational group whose aim is to disseminate this practice and support the development of the art form.
Beth Clarke is one of a hand-full of women who perform on the slack rope. A graduate of the Ecole Nationale de Cirque, she has also studied with Masha Dimitri and Szilard Skeley, two of the world's most reknown slack rope artists. Beth's performing credits include working with les sept doigts de la main, Circus Cirkor, Cirque Elioze, The Pickle Family Circus, The Discover Channel, Disney, and many other circuses, varieties and theatrical groups throughout the world. She is one of the founders of Sweet Can, a theatrical circus based in San Francisco.
A lifelong climber, Terry Crane surrendered to restless urges that led him to walk away with the circus at the tender age of twenty. Now a veteran acrobatic performer, he has climbed ropes hung from the truss arches of big tops across the globe and the lofty grids of countless proscenium theaters, as well as the shoulders of many a fellow saltimbanque. He is the director of Acrobatic Conundrum, a contemporary circus company based in Seattle since 2012. Terry delights in sharing his love of aerial technique, circus creation, and collaboration via workshops and performances. He is an alumnus of the National Circus School of Montreal, Oberlin College, and a dozen circus companies. As a director, Terry is on a relentless quest to tell true fictions, contradict human isolation, and portray paradox.
Born in Portugal in 1989, Joana is an aerialist/acro flyer. She began singing and dancing at a young age and was a National Champion in Ballroom Dance for 7 years. From age 18 Joana entered in a Portuguese TV Song Contest, participated in The Eurovision in 2008, and was part of Fame The Musical and High School Musical I and II in Portugal. Joana studied circus at Chapitô in Lisbon, then moved to London to further her circus studies at The National Centre for Circus Arts and earned a BA degree. Since graduating Joana has performed in many circus shows, cabarets, cruises, and events in the UK and abroad. In 2019 she performed with Mimbre, an all female acrobats company, at the Dior Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week and at the Brits Awards. She is a cast member of Bedtime Stories, a family circus awarded show from Upswing. Joana is now in the process of creating her first own solo show called 89.
Pamela Donohoo is Artistic Director of Awaken Circus and Dance Theater and an international performing artist: aerialist, acrobat, dancer, and choreographer. She has worked with performing arts organizations throughout the US and internationally. She has done commercials, award shows, large-scale events and spectacular acrobatic shows.
Pamela received her degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology from Stanford University. She completed field research projects and worked with nonprofit organizations throughout Africa, India, Latin America and the Caribbean. Her research interests include: social justice, peacebuilding, sustainability and the environment, folklore, culture, and history. Pamela specializes in creating socially relevant and globally engaged acrobatic performances. Her vision is to generate art that inspires people to think critically and contribute positively to their world.
I am Deon Fox. I have been performing on Rope for just over a year. I am located in Seattle Washington where I mainly perform and coach. I have a small resume of performing with Acrobatic Conundrum, Emerald City Trapeze arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Since 1980 Joanna has been creating work that uses natural, architectural and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Her stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts, and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by many arts institutions, including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, the Exploratorium Museum, the National Black Arts Festival, and Festival d'Avignon. She has also been honored with the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the United States Artist Fellowship, and a New York Bessie Award. Haigood is also a recipient of the esteemed Doris Duke Artist Award. Joanna has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the National École des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, the San Francisco Circus Center and at Zaccho Studio.
Walter Kitundu is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on kinetic sculpture and sound installation, composition, public art, and teaching. He builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while researching and documenting the natural world. Kitundu has created hand-built record players driven by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. In 2008 he received a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his art practice, and his capacity to make important cultural contributions. Kitundu was a visiting professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice, and in the Sound Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a Bay Area resident for 15 years and is honored to be a collaborator on Picture Bayview Hunters Point.
Jo Kreiter is a San Francisco-based choreographer with a background in political science. She thrives at the intersection of social justice and acrobatic spectacle. Through dance she engages imagination, physical innovation and the political conflicts we live within. She founded her company, Flyaway Productions, in 1996. Flyaway Productions is an apparatus-based dance company that advances social issues in the public realm and explores the range and power of female physicality. Under Kreiter’s artistic direction, Flyaway creates dances on both architectural and fabricated steel objects, which are typically off the ground, with dancers suspended anywhere from two feet to 100 feet above the ground. The company creates a sense of spectacle to make a lasting impression with an audience, striving for the right balance of awe, provocation, and daring. Kreiter’s tools include community collaboration, a masterful use of place, a feminist lens and a body-based push against the constraints of gravity.
Over the past 20 years, she has developed a nationally recognized expertise in creating and presenting site-specific performance work. Since 1996, the company has presented or co-presented numerous large scale works, including the award winning Niagara Falling (2012) and Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane (2014). Kreiter/Flyaway is a recipient of four Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, as well as awards from the Center for Cultural Innovation, New Music USA, the Artist Investigator Project of the California Shakespeare Company, CHIME, the NEA, CA Arts Council, Creative Work Fund, Meet the Composer, MAP, the Wattis, Rainin and Gerbode Foundations, the SF Arts Commission, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE. Her articles have been published in Aerial Dance, Contact Quarterly, In Dance, STREET ART San Francisco, Site Dance — the first book written on contemporary site specific performance. In the 2015 book, “Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performances”, Jo Kreiter’s work is highlighted in the chapter, “Civic Interventions: Accessing Community” using her work as an example of “the politically-driven work of the experienced and prolific site dance artists”. Kreiter is one of a few women worldwide to have gained expertise in the art of Chinese pole acrobatics.
Lomask sees the world as an amalgam of seemingly contradictory, yet synergistic perspectives. The daughter of a biomedical research engineer and a visual artist, Lomask spent her childhood going to laboratories and gallery openings. She weaves these two worlds into the tapestry of her work, creating highly visual, biological images and rhythms. She is an entrepreneur, a sculptor, a director, a producer, a choreographer, and an environmentalists.
Upon founding Capacitor in 1997, Jodi Lomask began exploring the meeting point between arts, sciences, and new technology. Under her artistic direction, Capacitor created works that tackle the past and future of reproduction (futurespecies 2000), Earth's place in the Universe (Within Outer Spaces 2001), the hero’s journey in video games (Avatars 2002), the deep Earth (Digging in the Dark 2004), forest symbiosis (biome 2007), flower reproduction (The Perfect Flower 2009), the ocean's vital forces (Okeanos 2012), creativity in the mind (Synaptic Motion 2014), early childhood (When We Were Small 2016), and 20 years of sculpture in motion (Left To Her Own Devices 2018).
Lomask designs movement structures out of steel, bungee, fiberglass, and wood. Her choreography unites unique characters, original motion sculpture, with articulated movement vocabularies for Capacitor's signature synthesis of visual magic and raw athleticism. Defined by a sculptural approach to the body, costuming, and props, her inventive choreographic solutions emerge from problems born of conceptual, physical, and spatial parameters.
Her events, talks, and panel discussions are direct assaults on confusion - helping people to come together and tackle practical, critical issues. She has produced over a hundred events and has contributed creatively to many more. She has toured as a public speaker do to her ability to effectively bring scientists, technologists, and creatives together to achieve shared goals.
Lomask has created for Disney's World Showcase and Future World and consults for IDEO. She has been commissioned to create original works for Apple, NASA, TED, SFO, the Discovery Channel, Computers and Structures, the California Academy of Sciences, The Crucible, and the Salvadorian Olympic Gymnastics Team. She helped launch the Volvo S60 in Malaysia, a new line of activewear with Athleta, and celebrate the mapping of the human genome with Celera.
She recently directed a 180 stereoscopic immersive film with Adobe, produced by the SF Dance Film Festival.
Her work has been covered by Nature Magazine, The Smithsonian Magazine, Fast Company, Wired.com, Res Magazine, SHIFT Magazine, NBC 11’s Tech NOW!, CNET Radio, TECH TV, NPR, Dance Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, The New York Times, among other media outlets. She appeared in National Geographic's 'Wild Chronicles' with canopy tree ecologist Dr. Nalini Nadkarni in 2007 and Discovery Channels 'Through the Worm Hole' with Morgan Freeman.
A choreographer and researcher, her dance studies focus on systems of proportion and the harmony of the space. She is the first dancer in Italy to have undertaken vertical dance in 1990, developing and spreading this practice before creating a specialist technique and creating performances in which space and movement merge in a single scene. In particular, her artistic project concerns the relationship with the architecture and the landscape, the dance insinuating itself in any vertical environment and conversing with it, adding a value that completes the actual place. Parallel to this is her research on how the structured space influences human movement. Her vertical dance performances have taken place at numerous festivals and various national and international events.
In 1994, she and the musician Marco Castelli founded the Compagnia Il Posto www.ilposto.org in Venice. Since 2000 Moretti has focused her attention on site-specific creations for historical and museum sites. Ideal spaces for reflecting on the past and the future, for emotional explorations and experimentations, these spaces have acted as catalysers of the choreographer’s new artistic direction, in which the relationship with the place is of primary importance. Parallel to her choreographic work, she has also done personal research into the educational potential of dance in a social and extracurricular setting. She participated in the first Training Course for Dance Educators run by the Centro Mousikè in Bologna together with the History of Dance sector of DAMS University of Bologna and Aterballetto.
In 2002, she won the third Museum Education Competition run by the Veneto Regional Government with her project Le arti visive attraverso il corpo e il movimento (visual arts through the body and movement). She carries out educational activities, training courses and workshops for museums and other entities, and for many years has run a research programme working with prisoners in Venice’s women’s prison, developing a dance education pilot project that is the only one of its kind in Italy, working alongside the Ministry of Justice, the Veneto Regional Government and DES – the National Dance Education Association. She is registered with the Albo Nazionale Danzeducatori® (National Dance Educators Institute). In 2007 and 2008 she was a lecturer at the Faculty of Design and Art at the University of Architecture in Venice. Since 2008 she has worked on the M.Ed. in Theatre through Art Education; in 2011, she worked on the M.A. in Pedagogic Actions and Interactions through Narration and Theatrical Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Milan. She was a lecturer at the Faculty of Communication and Art Education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino from 2010 to 2011. She occasionally works with the Faculty of Motor Sciences at the University of Padua.
In 2010, she created the International Vertical Dance Network, which unites the most important companies in the world, a project presented on www.verticaldancecompany.com
In 2011, she created and developed Vertical Suspension Training®, a teaching method for dancers on a vertical plane. Since 2012 she has started a collaboration with the Ca Foscari University in Venice, courses in Design and Innovation Management and in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities.
In 2015 she created "Habitat Verticali" for the opening of the EXPO in Milan for Cascina Triulza Foundation and again in 2015 she realized the choreographies of the vertical roles of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" for the muscovite Company Ogennie.
Among the most successful creations she realized "Kinetic" in 2009 on commission of ENEL, "Exuvia" in 2010 from Teatro Cargo and Genova Festival, "Atto Bianco" (2012) Kuopio International Festival, "Little Nemo" (2014) International Festival of Bangkok, in 2015 opening of the Venice Carnival "Molto Tesa" on the Tese Cinquecentesche of the Venice Arsenal, "Forme Uniche" in 2016 Invisibles Cities Festival of Gorizia, "Sonora Lux", Teatro Politeama of Lecce. In 2017 "The Hill Sphere" aerial dance creation with 6 dancers suspended on a crane and "Full Wall" commission from Roma Europa Festival. In 2018 #Verdinaria on commission from Teatro Regio di Parma for the opening of the Verdi Festival. Her work has been performed in Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Lithuania, Thailand, Ireland, Croatia, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Botswana, Qatar, England, Slovenia, Macedonia, Finland, Bulgaria, Brazil, Germany, etc.
Moretti is founder member of Vertical Dance Forum composed by 7 European and Canadian Vertical dance companies aims to strength capacity and visibility of the vertical dance. Vertical Dance Forum is Co-funded (2017-2019) by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Annually she conducts training workshops for dancers and international research on vertical dance. Moretti continues with her creations on vertical surfaces and architecture, and publishes texts and articles on vertical dance and the possibilities of learning through the body in movement in relation to the space that surrounds us.
In 2018 at the end of one part of her research “The Routes of Vertical Dance”, she is starting to spread the results in public lectures “First Generation: origin and history”, she is currently engaged in the other parts of the research: “Moon and the Movement” and “Reason”.
She has always been interested in the principles of choreography organization, in the last twenty years Wanda Moretti has proposed new approaches to documentation, research and teaching of vertical dance.
Amelia is best known as the founder and director of BANDALOOP, a dance company, that for thirty years has been on the vanguard of vertical dance. Based in Oakland, CA., the company performs and teaches locally, tours extensively and creates dance in technical mountain environments. A dancer/athlete, choreographer, writer, filmmaker, public speaker, Amelia shares a belief in our capacity for connection and transformation through creative explorations. Her work activates public and natural spaces, inspiring wonder and positive disorientation in audiences and students around the world. The dynamic, imagistic work, based in the unexpected use of gravity, investigates movement itself, social and environmental justice, human relationships and our connections with natural and built environments. Fusing post-modern dance, rock climbing technology and a spirit of adventure, the performances, which range from large scale shows and technical mountain films to intimate showings, strive to change what dance can be, and what it can do for audiences and communities.
Amelia served for three years on the board of Dance USA and as chair of the council of managing directors for mid-sized dance companies. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in comparative religion from Swarthmore College and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Amelia has received over 40 grants and commissions and has been supported consistently for over two decades by the National Endowment for the Arts. Shared with millions of viewers worldwide through live performances, broadcasts, viral video and film, Amelia’s vision deploys the transformational and restorative nature of art to initiate a change of perspective, create dialogue and inspire courage in us all.
Accepting the outcome of a dare, dancer and choreographer Alice Sheppard resigned her tenured professorship to train with Kitty Lunn and Infinity Dance Theater. After an apprenticeship, Alice joined AXIS Dance Company where she became a core company member, toured nationally, and taught in the company’s education and outreach programs. Since becoming an independent dance artist, Alice has danced in projects with Ballet Cymru/GDance, and Marc Brew Company in the United Kingdom. In the United States, she has worked with Marjani Forté, MBDance, Infinity Dance Theater, and Steve Paxton. As a guest artist, she has danced with AXIS Dance Company, Full Radius Dance, and MOMENTA Dance Company. Alice has also performed as a solo artist and keynote academic speaker throughout the United States.
A USA Artist, Creative Capital grantee and Bessie Award winner, Alice creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. Engaging with disability arts, culture and history, Alice's commissioned work attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race. Alice was a 2018 AXIS Dance Company Choreo-Lab Participant made possible with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her choreography has been commissioned by producers from KQED and UCLA as well as physically integrated companies such as CRIPSiE, Full Radius Dance, and MOMENTA Dance Company. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and such journals as Catalyst and Movement Research and Performance Journal.
Alice is the founder and artistic lead for Kinetic Light, a project based ensemble, working at the intersections of disability, dance, design, identity, and technology to create transformative art and advance the intersectional disability arts movement. Through nuanced investment in the histories, cultures, and artistic work of disabled people and people of color, Kinetic Light promotes intersectional disability aesthetics as a creative force and access as an aesthetic critical to the creative process and not a retroactive accommodation.
Xochitl Sosa is a Texas based aerial performer and instructor. She is a graduate of the New England Center for Circus Arts’ (NECCA) Pro-Track Program. In addition to NECCA, she has trained in Montreal with renowned coaches from Cirque du Soleil and the National Circus School. She performs her unique style of aerial work around the world in festivals, cabarets, and most notably with Seattle based company, Acrobatic Conundrum. After recently finishing a duo hoop contract with Cirque du Soleil, she is back in the USA working on new solo projects as a performer and a choreographer.
Jason Span is a former gymnast of eleven years and a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman based out of Jacksonville, Florida. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the United States Navy after serving for ten years to pursue his dream of becoming an aerial artist. Jason quickly developed his artistry on aerial silks in June 2015 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He relocated back to his home town in Jacksonville, Florida on October 2015 when he joined Bittersweet Studios. Always seeking to improve his skills, Jason began to cross train on multiple apparatuses such as aerial hoop, aerial straps and pole (dance). Jason began teaching and performing aerial arts at Bittersweet Studios and is currently touring with AIDA Cruises based out of Germany.
Since his journey, Jason has earned several accolades:
2018 Second Place: Pole Sports & Arts World Championships
2018 Champion: US Pole Sports Federation National Championships
2018 Champion: US Pole Sports Federation Pole Art National Championships
2017 Champion: Pole Sport Organization Southeastern Pole Championship
2017 Champion: Men’s Professional Pole FL Pole Fitness Championships
2017 Second Place: Silks Professional FL Pole Fitness Championships
2017 Second Place: Men’s Elite Division US Pole Sports Federation Championships
2016 Champion: Men’s Professional Pole FL Pole Fitness Championships
2016 Men’s Silks Finalist: U.S. Aerial Championships
Mary Ellen Strom
Mary Ellen Strom is an artist, curator and educator. Her installations and site-specific projects unearth submerged narratives within art, history and cultural discourse. Her work has been exhibited in a wide range of contexts including museums, galleries, passenger trains, on rivers, cattle ranches, large-scale video projections onto industrial sites and mountain rock faces, in empty retail stores and horse arenas. Recent awards include an International Fulbright Scholar Fellowship, a Bogliasco Fellowship to the Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities, The MAP Fund, Artadia The Fund for Art and Dialogue, Art Matters and Creative Capital. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art, NYC, the ICA Philadelphia, The Contemporary Art Museum Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Walker Art Center, Mpls., the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH, the Pompidou Centre-Metz, Paris, the Satouchi Triennial in Japan, the Hayward Gallery, London, Nagoya Museum of Fine Arts, Nagoya, Japan, Fundacion Union-Espacio Cultural Contemporaneo, Montevideo, Uruguay and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia. Strom is a Senior Researcher and Project Director for the Center for Art, Design and Social Research. She is a professor, Media Arts at Tufts University in Boston, MA.
Choreographer Julia Taffe combines art, environment and adventure, making dances for buildings, mountains, neighbourhoods, theatres and trees, finding new movement perspectives in the realm of suspension.
Julia is the artistic director of Aeriosa, a Vancouver-based vertical dance company. She has choreographed over 25 works on location including: Stawamus Chief Mountain in Squamish BC, Taipei City Hall, Cirque du Soleil Headquarters, Vancouver Library Square, Banff Centre, Scotiabank Dance Centre and Toronto’s 58-storey L Tower.
Prior to founding Aeriosa, Julia performed across Canada with Ruth Cansfield, and around the world with Bandaloop. Julia attained ACMG Rock Guide certification in 1997. She has worked as a co-producer, choreographer, cast member, stunt performer, mountain safety rigger and creative movement consultant on various film and television productions in Canada and abroad.