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Creative Control: Teens at the helm of latest Wise Fool circus event

Anne Staveley performs in the Virtual Wise Fool Teen Circus. (Courtesy of Anne Staveley)

A cabaret-style show is how Wise Fool New Mexico’s teen troupe is expressing itself during the pandemic.

The troupe had planned for a live show in November, but with that option off the table, it chose to create the Virtual Wise Fool Teen Circus. The event can be streamed through a private YouTube link reserved for ticket holders on Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan 24. The teen troupe showcase will feature students ages 13 to 18 who have completed at least one year of classes with Wise Fool.

“We have a youth-led model, and we try to hold a lot of space for teens to make decisions about which directions we go and how we work and what work we do,” said Kristen Woods, co-executive director of youth camps and teen programs coordinator. “I just wanted to include that we really try to hold space for everyone to be part of the process in everything we do.”

Revely Rothchild does an aerial performance as part of the Virtual Wise Fool Teen Circus. (Courtesy of Eric Peters)

Aerial acts, unicycle performances, juggling and a choreographed dance act will be part of the show. The emcee bits also have added theatrical elements to them. Some of the acts were performed at Wise Fool with social distancing practices in place, and others were done outdoors. Performer and student Indigo Austin took on editing duties to put the show together. Three acts by Austin also will be included in the show.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on acts,” she said. “I made, I think, four acts in the last few months. I definitely enjoy it. Act creation is one of my favorite things to do.”

Performer Arlo MacGillivray embraces being able to create freely as part of Wise Fool’s teen troupe.

“It’s really refreshing as a teen to be able to have some control over something, especially when in school, generally, most decisions are made for us, and Wise Fool gives us, especially creating performances, gives us our own outlet to create expression that we’re in control,” he said. “It’s definitely necessary during this time of quarantine.

“All the themes, there’s not necessarily one big one, it’s more each individual team, each individual act that has its own theme and it is strung together.”

One theme reflected in the show is living in a Zoom-driven world.

Eric Peters takes part in an aerial rope act during the Virtual Wise Fool Teen Circus. (Courtesy of Eric Peters)

“One theme I’ll mention that I just thought of after listening to Indigo is the reality of how much of our lives are on Zoom right now and we definitely need a little bit of the Zoom, of how it feels to be on Zoom and tie it into the show,” coach Carey Cramer said. “It’s not a huge theme, but it definitely shows up. In fact, there is going to be people participating via Zoom, even in the show, so it will be an ever present part of our lives.”

Some of the teens’ performances have similar themes, including the concept of chaos.

“Inevitably, (they) have themes that come out naturally because we’re all living in the same time and the same place with our own interpretations of that all the time,” Cramer said. “But these are a group of teens who have been working together for many years. They all know each other very well. There’s a lot of relationships and chemistry, and that’s sort of why I particularly find these shows to be so great, is because they have so many relationships between them. So I imagine that there are scenes emerging that the audience will pull out just from seeing all the acts that we didn’t necessarily plan for, and I think that’s the beauty of this kind of show, is different people with different acts who all have such a tight knit.”

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