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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, April 17

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Performance Mon Nov 09 2009

Cheap Thrills

El Circo Cheapo is almost a year old and last Saturday, they performed two sold out shows in their Humbodlt Park performance space that doubles as their teaching space, the Aloft Loft. El Circo Cheapo is marketed as the poor man's Cirque de Soleil but that description does it no justice. It is a brazen and hilarious variety show with real heart for ten bucks a ticket. The founder, Shayna Swanson, explains why her life rules.

Where did the name come from?

The name was originally going to be The Narcissistic Circus Artist's Video Cabaret. El Circo Cheapo has a better ring. It's sort of tongue in cheek because there's this really pretentious trend towards using a foreign word for "circus". It's stupid and I wanted a really stupid name, but it ended up being awesome. What can you do?

Are there bigger things you hope to convey or accomplish with ECC?
Yeah, for sure. I want to have a super fancy circus dinner cabaret. I'm just waiting for millions of dollars to land in my lap--or a rich investor. But aside from that, I want to help people see circus as something real, rather than a freakish illusion.

Is grassroots circus performing something that goes on other parts of the country?
Yeah, it's all over. I'd say, though, that Chicago is lucky to have tons of performers and companies. We seem to really have something cool going on here.

Describe Aloft Loft.
The Aloft Loft is where we train the future El Circo Cheapo stars! Then, also, we are a professional training space where people can come and train their hearts out all day long, and also turn to each other for advice and critique. I love it. It makes me so happy whenever I walk in there. My life rules.

You recently returned from touring (which you blogged about). Describe that experience. Have you toured before that?
Tour was amazing. We all got along and sang songs at the top of our lungs in the van and told funny stories and swam naked and saw dolphins and baby bears and rainbows. That's all true. It was our first tour and everyone is breathing down my neck to plan another one. I told them to do it, so we'll see! I hope they do.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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