On Thanksgiving weekend for the past 12 years, the Santa Fe-based organization Wise Fool New Mexico has been sharing its vision of the circus arts with the community through “Circus Luminous,” a home-grown presentation featuring theater, dance, aerial acts and acrobatics. This season’s family-friendly show, entitled “Soul’s Wind,” focuses on interpersonal connections and our relationships with nature and beauty. It’s co-written by Nikesha Breeze and Zhenzan Dao, directed by Breeze and has original music by Jeremy Bleich.
Circus Luminous is one of four annual productions presented by Wise Fool. Another seasonal performance is “Holiday Circus Cabaret,” a popular late December fundraising event that showcases the impressive talents of Wise Fool’s teachers and students.
Founded in California and relocated to Santa Fe in the late 1990s, Wise Fool describes its mission as “igniting imagination, building community, and promoting social justice through performances and hands-on experiences in the arts of circus, puppetry, and theatre.”
In addition to its annual performances, Wise Fool offers a wide variety of classes, including aerial yoga, trapeze and unicycling, at its 3,000 square foot studio. Want to fly on a trapeze, try aerial fabric work and learn acrobatics, stilt walking and clowning? Sign up for “Elevate,” Wise Fool’s co-ed boot camp for adults of all ages and skill levels that runs for two weeks beginning on January 8. Looking for a bonding experience with your child or grandchild? Wise Fool’s “Youth and Parent Aerial” class is geared for the young and the young-at-heart (ages 7 through 75). As part of its commitment to community outreach, Wise Fool also sends its staff into six public schools through its “Circus Goes to School” program.
“Wise Fool has touched the lives of so many people in the community, at times when they’ve been going through major life changes,” explains artistic director Amy Christian. “We emphasize team work in a non-competitive environment, self-discovery, making voices matter and helping every person reach their personal goals. Circus arts can be a means to help people recognize the extraordinary in themselves.”
While Wise Fool has received accolades within the community, including the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2005, it’s about to get national recognition as one of 15 circus arts companies invited to present a show and workshops at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. next summer.
“I was so excited when I got the call inviting us to participate in the festival,” adds Christian. “It let me know our work is being noticed around the country.”