From high atop the dizzying ceiling of the Wrigley Building, aerial performers are contorting, gyrating and flying through the air with the greatest of ease.
Only through practice, dedication and a certain fearlessness could anyone ever think of hanging 50 feet in the air. But on Dec. 16, a local aerial school is partnering with international talent for a special evening of holiday fun called Shine!: An Eclectic Holiday Circus Cabaret.
Allie Cooper, co-founder of the Radical Movement Factory, is behind the ambitious production. “We’re having instructors and colleagues collaborate on a show. People can expect a high level of performance,” she says. Get ready for aerial acts with aerial silks, aerial rope and high-energy dance numbers.
Center stage for the festive event is MC David Poznanter, who will not only be the ringmaster of the evening, but will be performing precision juggling and acrobatics. Poznanter graduated from UCSC in 2001, and spent the better part of the next two decades touring overseas with circuses. He recently moved back to Santa Cruz in July with his French wife to have their baby here. At UCSC, Poznanter was a music major for three years and then created an independent major and earned a bachelor’s degree in music and theater.
For the last two years, Poznanter has been traveling the world with an original masked theater and live music show he created called Boom! The inception of Boom! happened when Poznanter was 22 years old in Santa Cruz. At that time, the young student began exploring manifesting his own theatrical performances while collaborating with like-minded individuals.
Poznanter believes that live performance is central to developing young people into well-rounded adults. “I was having a conversation about the future of technology, and the questions came up: ‘Can a simulated reality ever replace all the gradients of actual reality?’” says Poznanter from his new home in Santa Cruz. “What I realized is that if you don’t know how to ask yourself that question in the first place, it doesn’t matter. If you never hike in the forest you will not compare or question it to a simulated forest. A guiding principle for me is to help the daily experience of young people to include the concrete and the actual as much as possible.”
Poznanter says one thing he loves about the circus is that most of its elements have been done for hundreds of years.
“Boom!, for example, is a two-person, six-character masked show,” he says. “We play ukulele, drums and perform multiple circus numbers, as well as comedic interaction with the audience. We use a speaker system, but we can also unplug and perform as people have performed for centuries.”
Poznanter is philosophical when it comes to the power of the circus in influencing a new generation of performers. “There’s something exciting about investing in things that have always been here,” he says. “In the movement, in the connections between people and in the virtuosity of circus crafts. There’s no shortcut to learning how to juggle five balls or do a backflip. You can’t do it faster than you can teach your body to do it. Something is lost in the desire for everything to happen quickly, and that is the mental and emotional state of learning. As we turn more to screens, we turn away from the things around us. We lose a part of our humanity.”
Events like Shine! that feature extraordinary performances can rebuild those lost connections, says Poznanter. “One thing I love about the circus is the transformation of the everyday world into a playground you can interact with,” he says. “The circus can transport you to a place where you can see the living potential inside something else.”
‘Shine!: An Eclectic Holiday Circus Cabaret’ will be performed at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Wrigley Building, 2801 Mission St. Extension, Santa Cruz. 531-8407. Tickets are $45 each, two for $80. Admission includes gourmet tapas, complimentary drinks and a dessert tasting. Advance tickets are highly recommended; go to shinecabaret.brownpapertickets.com.