There’s something comforting about a holiday card.
They’re upbeat, and cheerful, with a vague promise that things are going to be OK. They’re often cheesy or campy — there’s no getting around that — but the fact remains that receiving a card with a warm, welcoming message during the holidays provides a special feeling that is hard to replicate elsewhere on the calendar.
That's the feeling the Circus Arts Conservatory hopes it generates with the Sailor Circus Academy’s new show.
Starting Dec. 26, the Season’s Greetings holiday production debuts. The 90-minute show runs through Dec. 30 at its Bahia Vista Street arena. The show features more than 40 student performers. Among the acts are aerial silk dances, acrobatics, contortionists, juggling, trapeze and more.
This year’s theme is meant to bring a feeling of normalcy and comfort to audiences according to Sailor Circus Creative Director Jared Walker.
“This is very grounded and is like comfort food,” Walker said. “It's a very traditional approach.”
The show will have segments for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year's Eve, family gatherings and more. Holiday greeting cards will be displayed on LED screens as the students are performing so they can properly represent each holiday to the audience.
It’s about time for the students, who Circus Arts Conservatory Executive Vice President and COO Jennifer Mitchell says have been bouncing off the walls waiting to perform. A normal year would have the students out and about all over Sarasota, but this year has kept them home practicing online and unable to perform live.
“You would see them at Designing Women Boutique (events), you would see them at Nathan Benderson Park, you see them at every single (event),” Mitchell said. “This year it was minimized … the kids have wanted to get out there as much as they could.”
Sarah Catalano, a 16-year-old Sailor Circus student, has been performing for six years as a clown, and has put plenty of work into her craft but hasn’t performed for a crowd since March. Practicing for the show since September has made a world of difference.
“Us being able to come here and do what we care about and hang out with our friends has made a big difference for us this year because it really boosts your mental health,” she said.
Beyond the typical clown antics Catalano is reacquainting herself with, the Season’s Greetings show has her performing vocals for the first time. That part required a different skill set that, on top of practicing her usual gags, has been a lot of work. But she said it is coming along.
“It has been a bit of a learning curve, getting used to stuff that used to be really easy,” Catalano said. “It took a little bit of extra effort but seeing the show come together the way it is now, is encouraging.”
Sailor Circus Arena now has an air ionization system working in tandem with the air conditioning with the goal of mitigating the possibility of spreading COVID-19. Duo and group acts during the show will have the performers donning masks, and guests will be required to wear masks during the show as well.
For those still antsy about attending an in-person event, the show will be filmed and streamed for people to watch at home through January.
“I think that when you see the show, you can really tell how all of us are excited to be here,” Catalano said. “I think when you see that in a performance, it really shines through. And I think honestly it's going to be a big relief to people after such a crazy year.”