by Jackson Bicknell, staff writer
Jill Winsby-Fein recalls sitting in Sage Café a year ago watching the faculty string band play a concert having seen the ballad singers perform the week prior.
“I had this crazy idea of incorporating all of these groups on campus into a circus setting,” she said.
The idea became a modge-podge of music, dance, art, acrobatics and comedy together into the circus, which is what Wilson is at its finest.
“My main role as the point person is to create the script and weave the acts into the overarching theme,” said Winsby-Fein.
Incorporating spontaneity is what a circus is all about, a mixture of improv coupled with carefully practiced routines.
Someone approached Winsby-Fein with an urge to be in the modern dance group, but couldn’t make the commitment due to time constraints. As a result, a new character was born.
“[It’s] a character that weaves in and out of the circus,” Winsby-Fein said. “She became one of the major roles in the circus.”
Clearly, Winsby-Fein has a vision that thrives off of spontaneity.
“Its like a snowball effect,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, I have one idea to spray paint something gold and then it makes sense to have golden things everywhere.”
Not everything can be finitely planned, and some things just need to be painted gold, especially when a circus is involved.
Junior Owen Harris, commonly seen around wearing a robe to brunch with his accordion strapped to his back, is the man behind the music that will tie the circus together.
“The music I wrote is a combination of various Cajun and Turkish influences mixed together,” said Harris.
He will be performing with three other students to bring to life his score. The instruments involved consist of an accordion, which will be played by Harris, a euphonium, which is a type of trombone, a banjo and an upright base.
Harris primarily learned to play circus music when he met two women, dressed as clowns, on the streets of Philadelphia who needed an accordion player.
“The girls would say ‘play this chord when we do this and stop when we pull the sword out of our mouth,’” said Harris. “You are constantly creating and resolving tension in a circus.”
Through this odd introduction, we can look forward to Harris’ score developing reactions and creating atmosphere within the circus ring.
“Jill lives right down the hall from me so we talk almost everyday about the circus,” said Harris in regards to coordinating the music with the plot. Impromptu but effective means of communication helps tie the music with Winsby-Fein’s script.
“The meat of the circus is really brought by the diverse groups involved,” said Winsby-Fein, whom created the script after being inspired by all of the contributors talents.
“A huge source of excitement for me is the chance to bring together various crews on campus, including recycling, plumbing, electric and the 3D studio crew,” she said. “I know vaguely what an act is going to be and how they are going to fit in, but I’m not in charge or aware of choreography. That’s up to the performers.”
Senior Ariel Burns, who will play a clown during the performances, works closely with Winsby-Fein.
“She has struck a really impressive balance and openness for accepting ideas of individual acts, meanwhile balancing those ideas with her own to make the show brilliant,” she said.
Senior Devon Kelley-Mott took it upon herself to lead the belly-dancing segment.
“It’s not something I would normally do out of nerves, but so many girls came up to me asking about the circus, that I thought it was my obligation for the school and community,” she said.
Kelley-Mott has been rehearsing with ten other dancers three times a week.
“I came up with the idea two years ago while I was part of a traveling belly dance group,” Kelley-Mott said. “I had a vision, but just needed to know the theme, so I could incorporate this dance into Jill’s framework. We lie somewhere in the middle between traditional and cabaret forms of belly dance.”
She envisions the dance being similar to a ritual. Ironically, Kelley-Mott incorporates movements from the circus piece with her ritualistic morning sun salutations.
“Slow ritualist movements have a really strong meaning for me,” she said.
Kelly-Mott felt her “A-ha!” moment just recently.
“I stepped out of the dance and saw them dance without me, everyone was moving the way I had intended. It was flawless, “ she said. “I cannot wait to perform and interact with such a large audience.”
Come time of the performance Winsby-Fein will also get the chance to step back and see her story unfold.
“It’s so much more than a circus,” said Burns. “It’s golden.”