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« Tomorrowland, Slow West, Animals, Good Kill, I'll See You in My Dreams & In the Name of My Daughter Based on a True Story @ Under the Gun Theater »

Circus Fri May 22 2015

Acrobatica Infiniti to Debut Nerd Circus: An Interview with Director Tana Karo


Acrobatica Infiniti Circus (aka AI Circus) will debut the first circus performance "for nerds, by nerds" in their own hometown, Chicago, next Friday, May 29. Acrobatica Infiniti is the brain child of Tana Karo, a professional circus performer who has traveled the world but makes her home in Chicago, one of the best circus cities to train in due to a thriving art scene and multiple circus schools. She has gathered more than 10 circus artists with nerd in their hearts to debut this full-length production. The show is expected to sell out quickly as it appeals to a broad audience, which is something that can't always be said about circus in general.

AI Circus is full of super heroes, fictional sci-fi characters and anyone else you might find dressed up at a cosplay event, but the difference is, these characters don't just arrive once a year to sign autographs at a convention. They are here to tell a story, perform amazing feats, and entertain their fans with a variety of amusing and thrilling acts that involve aerial stunts, contortion, juggling acrobatics and more.

I asked director Karo (everyone calls her Tank) to tell us where she got the idea for AI Circus and what she hoped to accomplish with it.

Why is it the time right for AI?

The circus industry has enough talented young professionals looking for work, and that is good cause to make a new kind of show. At the same time, the geek-related industry is thriving. Movies and television shows are bringing what were once considered "niche" interests to a much bigger audience. Comic cons are growing by the thousands every year, and I want to be the first in and best dressed, to make a high-skill level show that appeals to those audiences!

Who do you hope to inspire with AI?

I wanted to bring together two genres that are very dear to me: Circus and genre fiction. As artists, we have the opportunity to bring a unique kind of show to an audience following that might not have been exposed to something like circus before. It's my hope to set a positive example for industry standards by presenting very high skill and creativity levels in a show, and to bring a twist to a traditional circus format by mashing it together with comedic fictional characters that many people recognize and love. It's also my aim to tell a backstory that may never have existed: to imagine a possible "behind the scenes" with our favorite characters.

What other circus is your inspiration or motivation?

I've worked extensively in Australia, where there are many small groups forming new circus shows all the time. The Australian industry is strong, and there are many fringe festivals, arts gatherings, outdoor celebrations, and cabaret shows being produced all the time. I have watched people see their dreams through from concept to creation many times over, and it never ceases to impress me.

What is your background as a performer?

Back when I was 19, I worked a popcorn stall at a Cirque du Soleil show where I saw what the artists could do, and I thought "I have got to learn that." I was a dancer at the time, so I had some body awareness and mobility already. I started learning trapeze in Chicago with Shayna Swanson from Aloft, and then I actually "ran away" to the circus. I moved to New Zealand for full-time circus school, and then followed my dream to Melbourne, Australia, where I completed a Bachelor's Degree in Circus Arts. I've been traveling between Chicago and Australia since then, performing in various shows.

My latest project was as the lead role in a show called "Tana Karo, Enchantress of the Elements." It was a big illusion show on Carnival Cruise Lines that was produced by two wonderful magicians from Las Vegas, starring me as the illusionist/aerialist. It was a blast to perform in, and it helped me gain the financial momentum I needed to start up my own business. In my career so far I've worked across many states in the USA, and internationally in London, Amsterdam, Australia and New Zealand, plus on a few cruise liners that toured the regions of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji.

What do you see the circus troupe doing one year from now?

We are actually booking into next year already! Touring conventions is what this group is originally designed for, so it is my hope and goal that you'll be able to see us at many different types of fan conventions across the country next year.


The Acrobatica Infiniti will be staged for one night only, Friday, May 29 from 7 to 10pm at Vittum Theater 1012 N. Noble St. General admission tickets are $35 and $50 for the VIP reception at 6pm. Acrobatica Infiniti will be in residence this summer at Uptown Underground with monthly performances in June, July and August. More information will be available later online.

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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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