Brand new winter program turns Christmas classic on its head
If you stop to think about the “12 Days of Christmas,” those gifts aren’t very thoughtful: a total of 184 birds (allowing for all that repetition), 34 noisy musicians — and those lords a-leaping all over the house would get old pretty quick.
Any kid can tell you the one can’t-miss gift every year is that long holiday break from school.
It will be a working holiday of sorts for about 70 students of the Circus Arts Conservatory’s Sailor Circus Academy, but it will all be in the name of fun as they put a new spin — and tumble and flip — on the traditional carol with their new show, “The 12 Days after Christmas,” which they will present for eight performances Dec. 27-30.
Known as “The Greatest ‘Little’ Show on Earth,” the Sailor Circus Academy teaches students ages 8 to 18 more than 30 disciplines of circus arts.
Sailor Circus Creative Director Jared Walker came up with the concept the show, which examines the unwritten traditions that are common to winter break, from playing with those new toys to taking trips with the family, celebrating the New Year and finally the realization that it’s almost time to go back to school.
Using a little imagination, Walker and the Sailor circus coaching staff came up with a lineup of circus acts to represent the activities in each of the 12 days.
“They’ve been working on the show since September,” says Walker. That’s about typical. Sailor Circus Academy puts on to big shows a year: one in the spring and one for the holiday season. The shows have all the trappings of a traditional circus — costumes, lighting, music.
The 12 days are broken into groups, Walker says, the first three days are about “undecorating,” starting with taking the angel off the Christmas tree, represented by the Roman rings.
Similar to the rings used in men’s gymnastics, this is a demanding piece of apparatus, and the girls who will be performing on it are
getting a early Christmas present, being trained by circus legend Dolly Jacobs, considered one of the greatest aerialists of all time.
The Roman rings was one of her specialties. “It’s all upper body strength,” she says. “What’s nice about it is having freedom as opposed to apparatus where everything is attached.” But the trick, she adds, is, “you have more freedom, so you need greater control. It’s a solo, one-person act and it’s all you.”
Day Two of the 12 days is the removal the ornaments from three huge Christmas trees, which, as the ornaments are removed morphs into a juggling act. Day three continues the “undecorating,” as silks hung like bunting are released for another aerial act.
The second three days are what Walker calls the “toy section.” This includes the Rola Bola adagio, a balancing act with a board rolling back and forth on a cylinder, with two performers stopping in stationary poses. After that several “troll dolls” will spin on “the web,” performing aerial stints on a swinging rope.
The toy section concludes with unicyclist and the five-high bike.
“It’s one person riding a bicycle and the girls jump on,” Walker explain, so finally it ends with five on a bike.
Days six and seven represents New Years Eve, represented by the slack rope, and New Year’s Day, which consists of acrobatics, the teeter board and the cradle, in which instead of a trapeze, aerialists swing from one another.
Days eight and nine represent vacations, with a Disney-themed double triple trap, a set of six trapezes;
And trick skating, representing holiday skating in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
“Days 10 and 11, we’re calling like a hullabaloo days,” Walker says. “It’s the final days before you go back to school. Those days start with contortionists and conclude with the flying trapeze.
“Day 12 is a party before we all have to go back to school to school,” Walker says, it’s a chance to take a a curtain call.
One thing’s for certain, when these kids go back to school, if they’re asked to to write a paper about “What I Did Over Winter Break,” they’ve got it made.