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PerformanceOnstageLive Shots: Circus Bella's 'Kaleidoscope' reels with oohs and...

Live Shots: Circus Bella’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ reels with oohs and aahs

Joy, color, human emotions, and wild feats under the Big Top for the local troupe's new winter show.

Circus Bella has pitched a tent on San Francisco’s Beale Street for Kaleidoscope: A Big Top Holiday Spectacular (through January 7): a resplendent show that aims to create the circus equivalent of the children’s toy for which it was named. The circular stage, the colorful and sequined costumes (by Autumn Adamme & Dark Garden Unique Corsetry), and the patterned choreography create the visual illusion of a live kaleidoscope.

In true circus fashion, everyone does a little of everything. The acrobats spot and showcase each other, the clowns perform acrobatics, and the crew juggles. It’s a true collaborative effort: even the audience gets to pitch in by tossing a red hat onto a performer’s head, holding a planted orange ball, returning an errant Hula Hoop.

Amid the festive activity, the acrobats evoke quieter moments with their display of grace, strength, and flexibility: Veronica Blair’s seemingly effortless aerial strap routine; Elise Hing’s contortion (who thought anyone could make their feet a pillow?); Toni Cannon’s gravity defying Chinese pole performance;  Kyran Walton’s preternatural flourish of strength via hand balancing. Of particular note is Dwoira Galilea’s elegant Lyra routine. On an aerial hoop, Galilea dances, contorts, and spins above the audience, turning herself into a kaleidoscope during a dizzying performance.

In contrast, Kirk March and Julie Marshall with their hat-juggling, Natasha Kaluza Hula-Hooping, Ori Quesada with a Rola Bola routine that has all on tenterhooks, and Jefferson Freire juggling and riding unicycle all perform their routines with a levity that belies the difficulty of their pieces.

Throughout the show, the clowns: Calvin Kai Ku, Jamie Conventry, and Natasha Kaluza highlight human aspects in different skits: jealousy in Having a Ball; frustration in Nap Time, imitation in Daredevil Ballet, and curiosity in A Rainy Day. A balanced combination of obvious slapstick and delicate facial expressions, the clowns embody our universal inner child.

Above the stage the six piece live band animates the action: Rob Reich, bandleader and accordian; Clare Armendante, violin; Kasey Knudsen, saxophone; Ian Carey, trumpet; Jonathan Seiberlich, tuba; Michael Pinkham, percussion.

Abigail Munn as ring-leader wrangles late performers, sings “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and, of course,  juggles. Munn and David Hunt founded Circus Bella in 2008 to add fun and beauty to the arts scene in San Francisco which Kaleidoscope delivers. Not just for children, the show offers a sensory experience and a jovial respite from a routine day. Toss in popcorn, cotton candy, pinwheels, clown noses, adult libations and, of course, kaleidoscopes for sale to add some fun to your winter. —Patti Riek

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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