Rochester Fringe Fest is in session. This is a two week period filled with performance of all sorts. Comedies, plays, music, movies, improv, parody, art, mentalism, stargazing, dance, booze, storytelling, queer and black art, and circus. Plus every intersection of any pair of these terms. The whole fest is co-coordinated by a central group and thirty independent venues who schedule shows appropriate to their venue under the grand umbrella. For Vermonters, it's First Night (ended!?), but longer, potentially weirder, definitely warmer.
The heart of Fringe Fest is a park downtown converted for the duration into a performance space, outdoor movie theater area, and general bar/hangout space.
This being Rochester, the space is easily accessible and modestly sized. A few dozen people reclined outside watching Anchorman 2 projected on a large screen while we entered a crowded Spiegeltent to watch Circolumbia: Corazon, a Columbian-rooted circus act
The Glamorous Spiegeltent is the Fringe Fests premier performance space, a sturdy wooden floored tent with a generous bar space that offers performances in the round for perhaps 200 attendees.
Circolumbia is a group of six performers who made up every one of a circus' archetypes (save for the Trained Lion, which was missing). We had:
- The Strongman
- The Gymnast
- The Contortionist / The Clown
- The Tightrope Walker
- The Acrobat
- The Emcee
Our audience was very revved up. Fueled by drinks, they whooped for successful feats.
The venue's policy was absolutely no photography or video, which hinders my ability to share this story with you. Memories; the androgynous clown's radiating sad intensity while puppeting an old woman with trembling hands. A aerobatic performance as a radiant white bird while suspended from a rope held in the acrobat's teeth. A participation event with the emcee laying down a 3/2 clave beat while the audience clapped along. Play with fabrics and dresses; sometimes upside-down performers inverted themselves and their dresses forming a torso of strong legs and and a head of swiveling feet.
We were shown every act you can expect from a circus. Everything you can do on rings, in rings, on ropes, above ropes. Walking, balancing, flying; on feet and on hands. For us CrossFitters, it's a reminder of how deep the waters of the well of body control are.