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Triangle-based company brings mythical circus show to Durham


Photo courtesy of Bramblebrook Images.

Trapeze, aerial silks, contortion and juggling are just a few of the many acts on display during a show with Purple Marble Circus

On Sunday, the company, which produces circus variety shows across the Triangle, presented “Mythical Menagerie, An Enchanted Circus Show” at Motorco Music Hall

Victoria Shockley, its founder, started the company in order to create more opportunities for people in the Triangle to experience performances in unique forms, from flow arts — movement-based performances that can include fire and LED lights — to burlesque and acrobatics, as well as to create jobs for local performers.

“I have been in the performance scene for almost a decade and tried all different types of talents and apparatuses, and I wanted to start producing so that I could bring more performance opportunities to people here,” she said.

Shockley said the company is named after her cat, Marble. She said being a cat owner is a reason she picked the charity that the circus fundraised for on Sunday: SAFE Haven for Cats. The show raised more than $5,000 for the charity, both from a portion of the proceeds from the show as well as money raised from a raffle.

Tickets have sold out at every single show, she said. The intention is always to offer a fun night out, she said, but she would also love for the company to continue to sell out bigger venues and contribute to different organizations they are passionate about.

One of Sunday's circus acts was aerialist Maria Carvajal. She began taking classes in aerial silk acrobatics during her childhood in Costa Rica and continued while attending UNC.

“It was a way for me to maintain some sort of individuality outside of academia or just pursuing academics, and creativity in general — it’s just been such a huge part of who I am,” she said

She continues to perform different aerial skills, but she is also an instructor at Cirque de Vol, a circus arts studio in Raleigh. She co-directed a performance program last semester and said she has enjoyed turning her passion into something professional.

For her act on Sunday, she did an aerial spin performance, showcasing an original character “Pegasus” which played into the mythical theme of the show. Carvajal said she likes to work with circuses because she appreciates the multidisciplinary artistry that goes into each show.

She has worked with Purple Marble Circus in the past and said she enjoys supporting like-minded artists. She said the aerial community can often place a lot of focus on fitness instead of performance, but in circuses, she has a space to explore the activity's fun and artistic side.

Another performer in Sunday's show was Rachel Wynn, a member and co-founder of the Pyrocosmic Performance Troupe. The troupe performs flow arts using fire and LED lights and shapes.

Wynn said she first saw flow arts in action and discovered her passion for it when she was in college at Appalachian State University. Years later, she said she enjoys the tight-knit community she has found within flow arts and the creative collaboration she has with other women who practice the art form. 

"Flow arts in general are so incredible and so meditative," she said. "And one of my favorite things is that they just force you to be so in the moment thinking about what's coming next. Most of it is improvised."

Wynn looks forward to performing in a Purple Marble Circus show every year, and she said it provides a great performance outlet for people in the area. On Sunday, because she was inside, she put on a unicorn-themed performance with LEDs and hoped that viewers had a good time.

“I just hope that it helps capture some of that fantasy and magic that I think comes with the world of the arts in general,” she said. "And this is a fun way to channel, it's a fun topic to perform about."


@dthlifestyle |

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