Showing posts with label Chicago Circus arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago Circus arts. Show all posts

Thursday, July 18, 2019



Menu designed by Chicago Icon “The Goddess” Debbie Sharpe 

 Herb Roasted Atlantic Salmon
(Photo Credit for all: Alan Alabastro)

Looking for an exciting entertainment and dining experience in Chicago unlike any other? Check out Teatro ZinZanni's Chicago premiere of Love, Chaos, & Dinner, the critically acclaimed show combining the best of cirque, cabaret, spectacle, live music, comedy and fine dining. The menu, designed by top local caterer “The Goddess” Debbie Sharpe, will make its public debut when the production begins July 18, 2019 at The Spiegeltent ZaZou, a Belgian mirror tent filled with unique, historic touches located on the 14th floor in the new opened Cambria Hotel (32 West Randolph St.). 

Tickets for Teatro ZinZanni’s Love, Chaos & Dinner include a four-course meal for dinner or brunch, with special a la carte party enhancements, signature cocktails and upgrades available. All meals come with an edamame and pea hummus as an appetizer, a Summer Salad as a first course and a slice of vanilla cheesecake as a dessert. 

Main entrée items are below: 

Braised Beef Short Rib – Yukon gold mashed potatoes, honey roasted carrots, red wine demi 

Bucatini Pasta – Sweet Italian sausage, peas, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato ragout 

Thai Curry – Tofu, vegetables, jasmine rice, thai basil, crispy rice noodles 

Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (Dinner entrée only) – Scalloped potatoes, haricot verts, blistered campari tomatoes, 
chicken jus 

Herb Roasted Atlantic Salmon (Dinner entrée only) – Toasted farro and spinach pilaf, summer ratatouille 

Smoked Salmon Platter (Brunch entrée only) – Whipped cream cheese, egg salad, sliced tomato, red onion, cucumber, 
capers, lemon and warm bagel 

Asian Chicken Salad (Brunch entrée only) – Rainbow kale, Napa cabbage, almonds, edamame, crispy egg noodles, 
oranges, ginger soy dressing 

“The Goddess” Debbie Sharpe will oversee and develop the menus for private events in this stunning new space. The Spiegeltent ZaZou is available to host lunches Monday through Friday and dinner on “Dark Nights.” The one-of-a-kind venue can seat up to 330 guests and is a perfect setting for corporate meetings, social events, convention hospitalities, non-profit 
galas, and other unique celebrations. The spacious bar and lobby area can seat groups of up to 100 guests for an elegant dinner or accommodate up to 200 guests for a cocktail reception event. 

Individual tickets, which include a four-course meal, are currently on-sale through September 29 and range in price from $99 - $189 For groups of 10 or more, call Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or email For more tickets and more information, visit

Teatro ZinZanni was founded in 1998 launching a wholly original new form of entertainment combining a unique fusion of cirque, comedy, cabaret, spectacle, and live music while serving up a multi-course feast. Inspired by the great cabarets of Europe, a team of creative artists and theatre professionals who have been working together for over 40 years created Teatro ZinZanni. Led by Founder Norm Langill, Teatro ZinZanni has featured celebrated artists from the worlds of cirque, clowning, cabaret, music, aerial arts, magic, and illusion. Performers over the years have included internationally recognized names like Joan Baez and Ann Wilson. The Chicago engagement is presented in the Spiegeltent ZaZou on the 14th floor in the newly opened Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop located in the Theatre District. The previously forgotten space was discovered in 2017 during the renovation of the Cambria Hotel when dropped ceilings were removed revealing the original grand space within the 1926 historic building. 

For more information, visit
Follow @teatro_zinzanni on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook 

Two parts rock n’ roll, one part Chicago, and one sassy Aussie Debbie Sharpe is The Goddess. The Goddess got her background in rock n’ roll catering, traveling the globe and feeding some of the most influential musicians of our time including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2 and Fleetwood Mac. Instantly falling in love with Chicago, she got off the Paul McCartney tour bus and laid down roots in the Wicker Park – Bucktown neighborhood in 1990. Serving a colorful, globally inspired menu of creative sandwiches, vibrant salads, mix-and-match square meals, and gourmet pantry items, she opened The Goddess and Grocer in 2004 and it was an instant hit. Debbie believes in the power of community, the influence of music, and that great food brings people together. 

Randolph Entertainment is a partnership of some 25 people who share in the vision of bringing an extraordinary experience to Chicago. A group of mostly Chicago based individuals; the partnership is committed to being a good neighbor and contributor to Chicago’s vibrant cultural community. Stanley Feig, a veteran of the entertainment industry with a career spanning several decades, manages the partnership. 


Originally constructed in 1927, Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop – Theatre District, located at 32 W. Randolph St., is located above the historic James N. Nederlander Theatre and offers a décor that maintains the building’s colorful past through unique design features, while presenting a sleek 21st-century aesthetic as well as modern essentials. Situated on the upper 19 floors of the 22 story building, Cambria Chicago Loop - Theatre District features 199 stylish guestrooms, two lavish suites- one of which boasts an enchanting 18 foot high cathedral window that is original to the building, a game room complete with pool tables, shuffleboard, foosball and TV’s for watching games, a fitness center, and 2,600 square feet of adaptable function space that can be separated into four state-of-the-art meeting rooms, allowing for ultimate flexibility. To learn more, visit their website. 
July 17th

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Aloft Set To Open Circus Arts Classes And Shows in 109 Year Old Logan Square Church

Nation's Third Largest School 
for Circus Arts 
Set to Open in 109 Year Old 
Logan Square Church

You're never too old to join the circus 

or get fit in an fabulously fun way!

Aloft Circus Arts will teach classes to all ages 
Classes for adults and, for the first time in Aloft's history, children, begin Tuesday, Sept 6.

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we've adored Aloft Circus, El Circo Cheapo, and fearless leader, Shayna Swanson's various circus arts endeavors for years. I can't even express how excited and overjoyed we are to have Aloft Circus Arts as a near neighbor! My daughter is literally hanging by her heels in anticipation for the long awaited kids classes to begin. Check these guys out. Oh SO highly recommended!

Classes begin for all ages September 6 at 3324 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL in trapeze, aerial silks, pole, trampoline, hand-balancing, clowning, acrobatics, and more, including circus-based fitness classes. Aloft will offer 90-minute taster classes ($10) from August 29-Sept 4, giving people an opportunity to try out different classes before they enroll in an eight-week session. Taster classes are for students 18 years and older. Children will be permitted to take a free test class during our regularly scheduled class sessions. For more info, check out

For the last eight years, Aloft Circus Arts has been training amateur and professional circus artists in aerial and earth-bound acrobatics from a rented loft in a west-side industrial warehouse. And in those eight years Aloft has grown into one of the largest and most renowned circus schools in the United States, drawing 250 students per week. Now, with the purchase of a 109-year-old church in Logan Square, Aloft is poised to put down roots that will allow it to launch a new phase of growth. 

"When our landlords told us they wouldn't be renewing our lease, I was really scared for the future of circus arts in Chicago," says Aloft's founder Shayna Swanson, an internationally acclaimed performer with more than 20 years of circus experience. Swanson founded Aloft in 2005 in a small Humboldt Park garage. Since moving from the garage to a Fulton Street loft, the studio has expanded to include circus arts classes for adults at all levels of fitness and skill, as well as a rigorous and selective professional training program and a performing company. 

Aloft teachers are veterans of Cirque du Soleil and myriad other world-class troupes. Aloft's monthly El Circo Cheapo showcase performances routinely sell out, and in 2014 Aloft helped host the first-ever Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival. But last summer all they'd accomplished seemed in jeopardy -- until Swanson found the former First Evangelical Church at the corner of Kimball and Wrightwood.

"As soon as I walked in, I knew we had to move there," she says. "I'm really proud of the fact that a small arts organization was able to purchase this beautiful building and keep it active in the community." Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised $60,000 to go towards a state-of-the-art rigging system, the church is set to become Chicago's permanent home for contemporary circus.

Interest in contemporary circus is booming in the U.S., and across the globe. Aloft's classes are small and taught progressive manner, allowing students with no previous experience in circus or acrobatics to master challenging physical skills and experience the excitement of this joyful art form, which has been proven to boost self-esteem and fitness in both children and adults.

About Aloft Circus Arts
Aloft is a Chicago-based physical performance company dedicated to telling original stories through world-class circus arts. Aloft combines visual art, urban space, physical movement, modern dance, and aerial performance to build a cohesive emotional tale. In productions meant for theaters, the street, or the open sky, Aloft Circus Arts is changing the limits of what's physically possible in storytelling. 

Animal-free and accessible for all audiences, Aloft Circus Arts is at the forefront of what modern circus is growing into, pushing the limits and leaving old ideas of "circus" in the dust.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

OPENING: Cirque Shanghai is Back at Navy Pier With New Warriors Theme for 2014


ChiIL Mama can't wait to see “CIRQUE SHANGHAI: WARRIORS” at the press opening this Wednesday. We'll be back shooting stills once again, for the 5th year in a row! Check back like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often for our reviews, news, giveaways and features. We're your source for photo/video filled original content on Chi, IL and beyond!

Click here to check out 4 years of our exclusive photo filled Cirque Shanghai recaps!  Then book your tickets and see them LIVE. (We've also included more of our favorite original stills from last year at the end of this post. Loads of favorite acts from last year will be back again, with a hot, new warrior twist!)

Tickets now on Sale for 
“Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” 
with New Acts Including 
the Martial Prowess of Chinese Kung Fu 
and Wu Shu Masters

Cirque Shanghai” is proud to return this summer to Chicago’s Navy Pier with a brand new show, “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors.” Performances begin Wednesday, May 21 and run through Monday, Sept. 1 at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage, a 1,500-seat, canopied, open-air theater on Navy Pier® (600 E. Grand Ave).

Tickets are on sale NOW and will be available via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or

Now in its ninth consecutive summer season at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage, this latest installment of “Cirque Shanghai” combines the impressive acrobatics audiences have enjoyed in the past with the martial prowess of Chinese Kung Fu and Wu Shu masters. The result is powerful display of athleticism and the mastery of disciplines that formed the backbone of military might in ancient China for thousands of years.

This summer’s production of “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” brings an extraordinary line-up of thrilling acts to the stage, including The Kinetic Poles, the powerful Water Meteor and the heart-pounding Pageant of Arms. Returning to the production from last year is the fate-tempting “Wheel of Destiny,” and China’s premier daredevil steel-globe motorcycle troupe, “Imperial Thunder”.

Directed by Miao Miao Chen, “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” is presented in this exclusive U.S. engagement by Navy Pier in conjunction with International Special Attractions, Ltd. (ISA) production headquarters in Shanghai, China. 

“Cirque Shanghai” will perform May 21 – September 1. Performances will be held at 10:30 a.m. May 21 and 29. Beginning May 23 the regular performance schedule is:
  • Wednesday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. 
  • Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Friday at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.
  • Saturday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.

Tickets are on sale NOW via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or Tickets are $19.50- $39.50 for adults and $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are also available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting

  • Special Packages for summer 2014 include: The Navy Pier Fun Package containing, a Emperor’s Court “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” ticket, a 40 min Skyline boat cruise, a Ferris Wheel voucher, a Pepsi Skyline Stage $5 concession voucher and a 20% off RIVA coupon for $43, with a children’s version available for $28. 

  • In addition, the Navy Pier Nightlife package combines a “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” Emperor’s Court ticket, a Landshark Beer garden $10 voucher and a Hagen Daas double scoop cone/cup voucher for $36.50.

ChiIL Tips:   Go on a Wednesday or Saturday night and catch a free Navy Pier fireworks show every week!   We also recommend buying the glossy, photo filled program.   The performers will sign it after the show and it'll be a fun keepsake for the kids to reminisce over.

International Special Attractions (ISA) was established in 1996 and over the past two decades has become a world leader in the production of large scale special attractions, events and theatrical productions. In addition to presenting Cirque Shanghai, ISA was the first company to bring Chinese acrobats to Broadway.  For the past two years, ISA has presented The Ice Kingdom, a 14,000 square foot experience made entirely of ice, at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  ISA’s other ICE! attractions are mounted annually at four Gaylord Hotel locations throughout the United States, and are enjoyed by over 1 million people each year. ISA also produces Luminasia, the larger-than-life lantern attraction, which was seen last year at the Washington State Fair, and for the past four years at The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.  In 2014, ISA is adding two additional Luminasia locations, one in Blackpool, England, and another in conjunction with the LA County Fair.  ISA clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Gaylord Entertainment, The Queen Mary, The New Victory Theatre in New York, Navy Pier Chicago, The Galt House Hotel, Busch Entertainment Corp and Six Flags, Inc.  Featured Television coverage has aired internationally, on networks including NBC, CBS and ABC to name but a few.

Drawing from his classical music background, Haiping Ge was one of the earliest producers serving in the Shanghai government’s Office of Cultural Exchange Affairs. From that office, he hosted many of the first Western entertainers performing in China.

For the last two decades, Haiping Ge has been producing shows with ISA for the world’s premium venues. His current productions include: Cirque Shanghai for New Victory Theatre on Broadway; ICE! Attractions in Dallas, Nashville, Orlando and Washington D.C. in association with Gaylord Resorts; Luminasia at The Galt House in Louisville, KY, USA. Haiping also produced a Chinese acrobatic show for Disney World, Florida which will run through the end of this year.

Miao Chen is a second-generation performer as well as the show’s director.  She studied with the internationally famous Shenyang Performing Arts Academy beginning at age five, and joined the acclaimed Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe, one of the top ten troupes in all of China, at age 13.  Chen is the recipient of a Gold Lion Award from the International Acrobatics Competition in France, and received the top award for Best Innovative Performance in Uruguay. Chen has performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. In 2006 and 2007, Chen worked as a choreographer for “Le Grand Cirque” which has toured in cities across Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. Chen previously directed hit productions of “Cirque Shanghai” in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Located on Lake Michigan, just east of Chicago’s downtown, Navy Pier is the most-visited tourist and leisure destination in the Midwest, welcoming nearly 9 million annual visitors.  Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, it is now one of the country’s preeminent recreation and exposition facilities, showcasing 50 acres of parks, gardens, restaurants, shops, attractions, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exhibition facilities and more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ACT OUT OPENING: The Last Voyage of Pirate Blackheart and More at Actors Gym #agyouthcircus #CircusinProgress

The Actors Gymnasium has one of the strongest circus arts programs in the region and they're a true treasure. We've been huge fans of their work for years. Their performances are stunningly well produced and there are few locations that teach circus arts for BOTH kids and adults. We highly recommend you check them out. All performances are held in their home space at:

Noyes Cultural Arts Center | 927 Noyes Street, Suite 104 | Evanston, IL 60201 

(847) 328-2795 | 

Spring Youth Circus 

May 17 - 25, 2014
Saturdays at 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Sundays at 3:00 pm  
$15 for adult tickets
$12.50 for children, students and

Join the fearsome pirate Captain Blackheart as she sails her crew of brigands and scallywags through treacherous dark waters in pursuit of her most valuable treasure yet! Visit mysterious remote isles, and strange aquatic worlds! Hold your breath as Blackheart and her pirates battle fierce fellow pirates, giant sea creatures, and the fragility of their own sanity. Inhale the salty air and exhale sighs of awe as students of The Actors Gymnasium amaze you with aerial acrobatics and nautical know-how unparalleled by any seafaring sea dogs on the North Shore.    

Coming Up Next (one day/2 shows only!)

May 31, 2014
4:30 pm and 7:30 pm

Tickets are $15 each

Did you enjoy The Magical Exploding Boy and the Invisible Circus? Come to our spring showcase of new work in development. Two Performances Only!

Performances include: Spring & Tulga (duo acro), ETC Music School Ensemble (choral music),  Angela Loiacono of Aerial Dance Chicago (solo trapeze), Brett Schneider (magic), Jill Heyser (aerial silks), Regina Meirmanov (lyra), Destiny Vinley (Chinese pole), Mr. Spring (hand balancing), and advanced students from AG's own classes. 

Watch the trailer!

About The Actors Gymnasium
The Actors Gymnasium is dedicated to bringing a new physicality to the American Theatre. Encouraging ground-breaking theatrical exploration, The Actors Gymnasium teaches circus arts, physical theatre and multi-disciplinary performance to children and adults; produces original, daring works of circus-theatre; and serves as a talent resource, providing performance opportunities to our students and innovative professional event entertainment for a wider audience.  At The Actors Gymnasium, people Learn To Fly - physically, emotionally, and creatively. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Latest From Our Friends at Actors Gymnasium #agyouthcircus

Winter I Session 
Starts Next Week!

Our Winter I session of classes in Circus and Performing Arts begins Monday November 11th and runs through January 26th. (No classes on November 28, 29, December 23 - January 5, and January 20).  

Course offerings for kids and adults of all ages and skill levels include Aerial Arts, Circus Arts, Contortion, Gymnastics, and more. Click here to see our class listings. Classes fill quickly! 

Classes fill quickly and limited space is available 

A'Musing Myths
Fall Youth Circus

A young girl who sacrifices love for the sake of the world.  A fierce seamstress who dares flaunt her talents before the goddess of Arts & Crafts. That angry one with the snakes for hair.  The gift of fire and the origin of man himself.  Join us as Prometheus, our favorite Titan, recounts the origins of some of his favorite characters from mythic Greece. 

The Members of The Actors Gymnasium's Fall Youth Circus Ensemble combine skills in circus, dance, clowning, and drama to delight us on adventures that span the heights of Mount Olympus, the depths of the Underworld, and every strange and imaginary place in between.  
A'Musing Myths: Fall Youth Circus is written and directed by Chris Mathews with circus choreography by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi, dance choreography by Topeka Ellis, and assistant directed by David Corlew. Tickets will go quickly - so get yours today!

Tickets are available ONLINE only.  Once online sales are closed, 1.5 hours prior to the show start time, the on-location box office will be open.  For group reservations and general questions call 847-328-2795.  If online sales are sold out, a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
Two Weekends Only! 
November 9 & 10, 16 & 17, 2013

Saturdays at 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm

Sundays at 3:00 pm  

$15 for adult tickets!

$12.50 for children, students and seniors!  
Take part in our hashtag contest!  Whoever has the most #agyouthcircus comments on Facebook and/or Twitter before November 19 will win a free black AG jacket OR $50 off their next session of classes (Your choice!).  Posts must be relevant and on-topic. 

Winter Break Circus & Performing Arts Camps

Whether you are a veteran of our summer camps or a novice, our three day camp sessions are for you. Make new friends, catch up with old summer camp friends and learn great new skills. Perfect for young performers who want to strengthen, stretch and flex their creative muscles with circus, drama, and movement. A great alternative to childcare for busy parents. 

Session A: Dec 23, 26, 27, 2013
Session B: Dec 30, 2013 & Jan 2, 3, 2014
Ages: 9 - 14

About The Actors Gymnasium
The Actors Gymnasium is dedicated to bringing a new physicality to the American Theatre. Encouraging ground-breaking theatrical exploration, The Actors Gymnasium teaches circus arts, physical theatre and multi-disciplinary performance to children and adults; produces original, daring works of circus-theatre; and serves as a talent resource, providing performance opportunities to our students and innovative professional event entertainment for a wider audience.  At The Actors Gymnasium, people Learn To Fly - physically, emotionally, and creatively. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Photo Filled Recap CircEsteem Circus Soiree 2013 #OriginalPhotos #CircEsteem

It was my pleasure to attend the 2nd annual CircEsteem Circus Soiree 2013. Although my kids are on hiatus from circus to settle into an intense selective enrollment gifted jr high and rigorously train for competitive gymnastics, CircEsteem holds a special place in our hearts.   That's why I was happy to donate my time and gear to shoot stills and video that evening.   We're in the process of editing and will have the whole fabulous show from that evening on line for you next month.

In the mean time, check out our sneak peek behind the scenes as this talented troupe of kids prepared to perform & a mini montage from the event itself.   Recognize WXRT's own celeb, Terri Hemmert as MC/ringmaster?

ChiIL Mama's full set of Soiree Shots:

Photo credit Bonnie Kenaz-Mara for

Want more?   Click here to check out our full photo feature from Circus Soiree last year when both of my kids were in the show and my husband ran video, freeing me to shoot the whole show/event.   Enjoy!

Here are a few of our favorite shots from that night:

Wheelin' n dealin' Circus Siblings...


Colorful Decor...

 Tasty eats & Jo Snow Cones (though sadly not boozy this year)

Awesome auction goodies ranging from affordable (where did you get those cool Chi-town flag coffee mugs?!) to amazing--think Cirque du Soleil Dream Weekend in Vegas package...

Benefactors braving up to try circus arts...

Hot Salsa Dancing...

"Photo Booth" Dress Up Fun... 

There was even a Mark Messing sighting! (of Mucca Pazza fame and numerous theatrical endeavors)  Click here for our 2 prior video interviews with Mark & our photo filled Mucca Pazza features & CD review.

Flaming crepes capped off the evening with panache.

Check back with ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often.   We'll have a full video of the Circus Soiree Shows, including the private VIP show, in the very near future. To donate to CircEsteem or enquire about winter classes for kids and/or adults, click here.

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