SARASOTA, FL – Like most of the arts organizations on the Suncoast, the Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) has seen a significant hit to its bottom line as the pandemic has closed shows entirely or required considerably reduced seating to keep the community safe. The cancellation of its 2021 Big Top season was the latest blow. But the CAC is determined to bring the joy of live performance to patrons of all ages, wherever they may be, while keeping the circus arts alive and thriving.
For 10 performances over two weekends in March, the CAC has engaged incredible circus artists – many who have been featured in various Cirque du Soleil shows – who will share their gifts through a benefit called “PREVAIL.” Patrons may enjoy the shows live or take advantage of digital tickets, which will be available for viewing beginning at noon on March 12.
Proceeds will support CAC programs and outreach that serve students in K-12 classrooms, seniors in assisted living communities, and aspiring artists following their passion by training and performing in the circus arts.
The artists – none of whom have performed here before and many of whom have said that they are looking forward to visiting Sarasota given its renown as a circus city – hail from all over the world. While they have a long list of performance credits with notable entertainment groups, Cirque du Soleil performers include: Alanna Baker, aerial lyra artist who toured with “OVO”; aerial strap artist Darren Trull, who has performed in several Cirque du Soleil shows; Native American hoop dancers Eric Hernandez and Shandien LaRance, who performed in “Totem”; slack wire artist Evgeny Vasilenko, who performed in “LUZIA”; silks artist Giulia Piolanti, who also performed in “LUZIA”; Chinese pole artist Oli Poitras, who was featured in “Volta”; and unicycle artists Marie-Lee and Philippe, who performed in “Kooza,” “Paramour” and “Volta”. Ringmaster is Sarasota favorite Joseph Bauer, Jr., who is renowned not only for his elegance but also for his death-defying bravery in acts including the 90-foot swaypole and 50-foot Wheel of Destiny.
The artists are all donating their time (although housing and incidentals are being covered). While they are in Sarasota, they will train as well as do workshops with Sailor Circus Academy students. Many have related that, as the pandemic has stifled entertainment worldwide, they are thrilled to have the opportunity to train, teach and perform here.
“We are so grateful to these world-class artists who are basically donating their time to ensure the circus arts continue to be a vibrant and valuable resource. It is exceedingly rare to see a cast with this level of skill and experience come together under one big top,” said Pedro Reis, founder, president and CEO of the CAC. “Beyond the entertainment value of the circus, our programs enrich the lives of the youth who train and grow with us, students who learn science through circus concepts, and seniors who benefit from humor therapy in facilities throughout the community. Despite the many challenges in our path, we will ‘PREVAIL’ in our mission to keep the rich history, mystique and diversity of circus arts alive!”
Stringent health and safety protocols are in place for the in-person performances to protect patrons, artists and staff. Measures include reduced seating, masking required for all, temperature checks, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities (including fogging after each performance), pre-packaged concession stand items, ongoing COVID-19 testing for staff and artists, and more.
Performances take place at the Sailor Circus Arena (2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota) on consecutive weekends, on March 5-7 and again on March 12-14. Show times are 7 p.m. on Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. In-person tickets are $20-$50; digital tickets are $25. Tickets are available at circusarts.org/prevail-a-benefit-for-the-circus-arts or call the Box Office at 941-355-9805.
About The Circus Arts Conservatory
The Circus Arts Conservatory, located in Sarasota, Fla., is home to world-class performances, excellence in training the circus arts, and community-based outreach programs. The organization was born from decades of circus history and today serves as a legacy to those that have set the standards for international circus artistry and education. The Circus Arts Conservatory is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Go to CircusArts.org for more information.