A student-led circus troupe revitalizes its presence on UNC Charlotte’s campus

As one walks through UNC Charlotte’s campus, you may notice student organizations tabling for events, see your friends, and professors or students playing with puppies. If you are walking through campus this year, expect to see a new student organization, Queen City Circus, performing different sets of aerial, acrobatic, theatrical and contemporary circus-related performances. 

Queen City Circus is a student-led circus troupe specializing in physical theatre performances. Formerly known as the Aerial Artistry Contemporary Circus Troupe, Queen City Circus is making a revitalization of their student organization this school year. So far, they have been able to do different pop-up shows on campus and also performed at the Student Organization Showcase. 

This summer, some of the members of the Queen City Circus executive board were able to take an intensive circus course with professor Carlos Cruz. This course sparked an interest and invigorated their desire to pursue the rebooting of the student organization. 

Currently, one of their overarching goals is to bring more awareness to this form of art. Blake Briles, the president, believes that this organization allows them to perform “extraordinary things in ordinary atmospheres.” 

Krysta Rogden, the secretary and artistic manager of public relations, stated that one of her goals for the organization is to “bring circus and physical theatre performance arts to every inch of campus.” She noted that art related majors tend to be secluded in their respective buildings. Thus, by performing in different areas of the university, it allows for other students, professors and community members to witness this art form. 

Drew Coley, a Dance and Accounting major, hopes to incorporate physical theatre performances and contemporary circus elements into theatrical productions. He noted that the theatre department will be incorporating some aspects of physical theatre into Pippin in the spring, but he hopes this will lead to a deeper exploration of the two art forms. 

Theatre, dance and circus-related performances can be intertwined with one another. Briles mentioned that an ongoing process is trying to break the bond between what people’s preconceptions are of circus and incorporating new, contemporary aspects to circus performances, such as dance and theatre. 

Rogden says that while circus is an art form, it is also a way of expressing oneself through a different medium. 

While performances can have a narrative and storyline, similar to theatrical or dance performances, the troupe will also be participating in showcases that allows them to freely express themselves and bring awareness and education to their form of art. 

Roles vary throughout performances. If one has received a certain number of hours of training, they are able to perform and utilize their aerial skills. If one has not received formal training, members can still participate in other parts of the performances, such as production and juggling amongst other skills that does not require you to be in the air. 

As far as its impact on its members, Rogden stated that it has allowed her to be a leader and an advocate for circus arts. Coley believes that this form of art has allowed them to form a family and a stronger bond that is not bound by certain conventions. Briles said, “The possibilities are endless and this experience is a blessing.” Their hope is that as their presence increases, they can obtain a space on campus to formally perform and practice.  

Queen City Circus will be performing at Kids Fest on Oct. 5th, 2019. Rogden says this will be more of an education outreach focus. The performance will allow children to learn about the connection between exercise, physical activity and creativity. Additionally, the troupe will be performing at the Renaissance Festival. If you cannot make it to these events, the troupe will be performing throughout campus at different pop-up shows and Halloween showcases.

To stay up to date on events and upcoming performances, follow Queen City Circus on Instagram. Their Instagram username is queencitycircus. 

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