McColl Award winner building community through circus

Categories: ASC Awards, Blog, Uncategorized

Why This Matters: Telling the stories and traditions of multi-ethnic communities adds context and meaning to Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s larger story.

“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes, will be performed April 29-30, 2016, at Booth Playhouse.
“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes, will be performed April 29-30, 2016, at Booth Playhouse. Photo credit: “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque.”

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

There’s an element of danger in circus.

If performers don’t work together, they put themselves at risk.

It’s a metaphor for how the members of any town or city need to rely on each other, said CarlosAlexis Cruz, an assistant professor of voice and movement at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Cruz plans to use it as a way to illustrate how local residents can work together to create something beautiful in his project “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” which translates to “New South, New Circus.”

CarlosAlexis Cruz.
CarlosAlexis Cruz.

“I think what ‘Nouveau Sud’ is saying is even though we all come from different sides and different perspectives and strong cultural points of view, we’re all actually in this together,” Cruz said.

“We all want this region to be our home and the only way we can succeed in that is if we feel this place can be different and welcoming.”

Funded by ASC’s $25,000 McColl Award, “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque” is a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes that thrive within Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s ethnic communities.

Through the physical language of dance and movement, the stories and traditions of Latino, African-American and Asian-American communities will be tied to the larger story of Charlotte-Mecklenburg in this examination of what it means to be a citizen of the “new” South.

“There are so many interesting cultures and people here,” Cruz said. “I still feel that we should all benefit from that.”

He began work on his contemporary circus back in September 2014 shortly after winning the McColl Award, which is named in honor of Hugh and Jane McColl for their long-term commitment to the cultural community and given every three years with the purpose of investing in the creation of a new work of art.

That month he offered a glimpse of the ground “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque” would cover at ASC’s “Imagine 2025” event. In the colorful, breathtaking performance, African-American and immigrant experiences were linked by break-dancing, Latino folk dancers and poetry recited in both Spanish and English.

Break-dancers and Latino folk dancers in a performance arranged by Cruz at "Imagine 2025.
Break-dancers and Latino folk dancers in a performance arranged by Cruz at “Imagine 2025.”

Since then, Cruz’s social circus previewed its artistry at Blumenthal Performing Arts’ “Breakin’ Convention” last October and more recently at the McColl Center of Art + Innovation in March and at April’s Creative Mornings Charlotte event at Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center of the Arts.

It will be presented in its entirety April 29 and 30 at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte.

“People are really excited,” he said. “It’s a diverse group exploring an art form that is not as mainstream or present in our area. That makes it unique.”

Want to Go?

“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” which translates to “New South, New Circus,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. April 29 and 30 at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit http://www.carolinatix.org/events/detail/the-nouveau-sud-project.

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