On the haunted evening of Saturday, Oct. 27, the Muhlenberg College Circus was back in town with a spooky twist. Witches, investigators and reanimated monsters gave goosebumps to a large audience eager to be spooked with circus entertainment. The entertainment and creativity presented for the price of two dollars per ticket was worth it, as it allowed the audience to experience the thrilling journey of a murder investigation.
Upon entering the Brown Dance Studio for the performance, the room was lit only by ominous orange lights. Halloween music entered the audience’s ears, causing chills to crawl down each person’s spine. Performers interacted with audience members as they entered and waited for the performance to begin; they danced and attempted to scare them. The atmosphere was perfect for the weekend before Halloween.
“I have been to the Muhlenberg Circus before,” said Jenny Silber ‘20. “I’m always so blown away about what my peers can do, especially anything in the air because it always looks so cool and I have no idea how they do that. Overall it’s always a fun time and lets you forget about the outside world for a bit!”
The theme of last Saturday’s show was Halloween, and the performance began with the circus members dancing, followed by a juggler being murdered. Two clown-like performers wearing trench coats and speaking gibberish investigated the crime scene, which ended in the pair rolling the “dead” body off stage. Other acts in this performance included three aerial acts (fabric/aerial silks, spansets and lyra/aerial hoop), contortion, hand balancing/canes, hula hoop, cyr wheel, clowning and juggling. Acrobatic witches, who seemed to resemble the three witches from Macbeth, made a brew that was supposed to bring the dead body back to life but ended up turning him into a monster like Frankenstein.The final act included the whole audience, who was invited to dance with the circus performers to Michael Jackson’s hit song “Thriller.”
Unlike traditional circuses, the audience here had to be on their feet and fully aware in order to be able to experience the entire show, as they were motioned to follow the performers all around the room in between acts, which spread to different surfaces of the room.
At the beginning of the fall semester, auditions are held for those interested in joining the circus. Each semester, the circus tries to have a performance while also doing a lot of community engagement.
To prepare for a performance, the group members attend rehearsals that are specific to their discipline as well as rehearsals with the entire circus ensemble each Friday. During these rehearsals, they build acts while also learning and practicing new skills. Sometimes, professional circus artists come to teach masterclasses.
Dancer and acrobat Elise Miwa ‘20 has been a member of the Muhlenberg College Circus since the first semester of her freshman year. She has been dancing since she was three years old and started taking tumbling classes through her dance studio when she was eight.
“I went to a circus summer camp for seven years during elementary and middle school, so when I saw VOD [the circus show from Spring 2016] when I came to visit Muhlenberg my senior year of high school, I was so excited that I could keep doing circus here at school,” said Miwa.
The Muhlenberg College Circus would not be possible without the guidance of its student leaders: President Shantell Cruz ‘19, Vice President Elena Nahrmann ‘19 and administrative assistant Arianna Caiola ‘20, along with their faculty advisor, dance department professor Noah Dach, who teaches aerial acrobatics and aerial composition.
“The circus is such a wonderful community and creative environment,” said Miwa. “I especially love that I have been able to not only continue to learn and grow as an acrobat but also improve in other areas of circus performance.”