Local alternative circus is the perfect balance of theatre and circus.
by Jasper Intern Brad Dountz
Soda City Cirque, a Columbia-based alternative circus, is preparing for a brand-new performance that is designed to challenge your expectations of what performing arts can be. Combining different aspects of the circus and the theatre, Soda City Cirque has created an entirely new experience entitled “We All Fall Down” that is built for people of all ages and incorporates multiple fairy tale stories and circus performances into a cohesive narrative.
Performer Kendal Turner and Soda City Cirque stage manager Crystal Aldamuy sat down with
Jasper for a closer look at how alternative circuses have evolved over time and what people should expect from their forthcoming show.
Turner and Aldamuy point out that alternative circuses have been a part of Columbia for a decade and that Soda City Cirque is made up of performers who have had professional circus training from all over the country from, San Diego to Charleston. At first, performances started out in more humbler settings like Art Bar’s parking lot. As the performances became more serious for those involved, a change of venue was necessary, and the troupe has moved into increasingly more ambitious spaces.
That ambition makes sense given their success—since their founding in 2013, Soda City Cirque has steadily grown in numbers and respectability. “We’ve done five full-length shows, we’ve sold out all of those shows, and we’ve gone from having eight members to 13,” Turner says. “We just kind of keep upping the game every single time. We do it in terms of skills that we add, and the type of performances that we do,” she continues. They have performers who do aerial art, balancing tricks, juggling, and fire tricks. “We’ve got all kinds of different people doing all kinds of different things. What we do is kind of mush those skills into a cohesive show with a storyline.”
The company is also quite proud of “We All Fall Down” as an example of the synthesis they hope to achieve. “I’ve always been fascinated as a writer, as a theatregoer, of the show within the show,” says Turner on the production’s structure. “There’s no curtain, and the audience sees the setup of the show and what goes on behind the scenes. We can incorporate the moving [parts] of the show into the actual story.”
Soda City Cirque has worked with different nonprofits with each of their shows, this time with Turning Pages, which is dedicated to ending adult illiteracy. “It just happened to be so perfect—it’s a fairy tale show about stories and we’re partnering with a group that promotes adult literacy, so it just seemed to be such a beautiful fit,” Turner says. After months of preparing, organizing, and constantly changing what would be in the actual show, Soda City Cirque think all of their hard work will pay off and the audience will be rewarded big time. “This is the biggest and best show that we’ve put on so far,” Turner says of “We All Fall Down.”
Soda City Cirque has put in an effort into getting their message across of pushing the limits of what a circus is supposed to be. “It’s that dream of growing up and running away with the circus, it really is that sort of embodiment, it becomes very accessible,” Aldammy said. Their long-term goal is to truly create a circus scene within Columbia. “It’s about getting people excited about creating different forms of art,” Turner said.
“We All Fall Down” will be performed at 914 Pulaski Street on May 26-27 and June 2-3. Doors open at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10-15 and $50 for VIP package.