At Dance in the Park, Barnum & Bailey meets Cirque de Soleil

MoonDrop Circus will perform at Saturday’s Dance in the Park at Roanoke Park. (From left to right): Andrew Wilson on accordion; Brie Blakeman with hoops; Jenna Haddock; Robin Rosenberger (front).

The members of MoonDrop Circus, one of the featured groups at Saturday’s Dance in the Park, call themselves circus performers. “We call ourselves a fine art family circus. We want to be technically skilled but accessible to a whole range of diverse people,” says MoonDrop’s Brie Blakeman. She explains that the group wants to break the barrier between the audience and the performers, using circus performance techniques to connect with audiences in new ways.

Blakeman says the group combines circus aerials, juggling, acrobatics and gymnastics with her signature act – hoop dance. As in, hula hoops. It’s hard to explain, but here’s what it looked like when Blakeman performed at Dance in the Park in 2010.

Blakeman calls her performance “circus-style hoop dancing,” as opposed to the more traditional hoop style. Blakeman says she has not always been a hoop dancer. In fact, she grew up as a cellist. “I didn’t do any kind of movement or sports,” she says. “I just had nimble fingers.” But at a performance of the band The String Cheese Incident when she was 14, Blakeman was intrigued. (The String Cheese Incident, by the way, is credited for the revival of the hula hoop and often gave audience members hoops at its concerts). “Hoop dancing was my gateway drug into movement,” Blakeman says. It led her to take modern dance lessons at City in Motion Dance Theater, 3925 Main. And two years ago, she started aerial dance.

MoonDrop’s Dance in the Park show includes both hoop and aerial performance.  Jenna Haddock and Robin Rosenberger will be doing aerial twists and turns while Blakeman dances in five hoops. It will look even better on the big stage Saturday night, but here’s a preview from a recent rehearsal.

MoonDrop Circus performs this Saturday night at Dance in the Park, 7 p.m. at Roanoke Park, just north of Roanoke and 39th Street. The event is free and sponsored by City in Motion Dance Theater and the West Plaza, Roanoke, Coleman Highlands, Volker and Valentine neighborhoods. The rain date is Sept. 9.

 More about Dance in the Park 

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