Premiering on August 5, the contemporary circus production "Smoky Mirrors" explores gender, sexuality, and identity through daring aerial acts.

Sweet Spot Aerial Productions, a local D.C. performance group, is hosting a circus production unlike any you've seen before. "Smoky Mirrors" is a contemporary circus production that will take audiences on a journey to confront and reconsider expectations surrounding gender and sexual identity. "Smoky Mirrors" is doing three performances over two nights at The Theresa and Jane Lang Theatre, August 5-6. On August 5, there will be a 5 p.m. show and an 8 p.m. show, and on August 6 there is an early 5 p.m. show. Tickets are $25 a piece. Buy your tickets here!

About "Smoky Mirrors"

So how exactly does a circus confront expectations surrounding gender and sexuality? To find out, I asked Chairman of the Board and co-founder of Sweet Spot Aerial Productions Elliot Proebstel a few questions about the production and American circus arts today. Elliot Proebstel describes "Smoky Mirrors" as "the most ambitiously direct and honest" production the company has created thus far; furthermore, Proebstel says the show is "more political than most circus arts shows that have aired in Washington." [caption id="attachment_2999" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Smoky Mirrors A photo from a previous Sweet Spot production. Photo credit to Rich Riggins.[/caption] The acts that attendees will see are not solely feats of impressive human potential -- they are narrative acts that tell stories, many of which are rooted in personal experiences of the cast and creative team. Proebstel said that these incredibly personal narratives of gender identity and expression, combined with popular published narratives, allow the performers to express elements of their own lives, creating a uniquely powerful circus show that divulges from familiar motifs of American circus. Proebstel says that "traditional American circus has a long history of reifying gender norms; the men are big and muscled, and the women are scantily clad and graceful. The cast of "Smoky Mirrors" seeks to push the boundaries of American circus and 'to tell more nuanced and progressive stories of gender in our productions.'" [caption id="attachment_2998" align="aligncenter" width="534"]Smoky Mirrors A photo from a previous Sweet Spot production. Photo credit to Rich Riggins.[/caption] Proebstel also said that this production, along with some of Sweet Spot's previous work, is a response to other professional circus performers saying that "the market didn’t exist for circus arts shows featuring LGBTQ characters." Proebstel continued, saying:
"...this was the guidance they’d been given by all of their coaches and mentors. Gay performers were encouraged to develop acts that were strictly technical and never communicated romance between two men, for example. We refused to accept the notion that audiences weren’t ready for these stories and set out to prove the market [exists]...
We believe carefully crafted narrative circus can help leverage that inspiration by presenting a diverse range of characters as role models, capable of incredible feats."

About Sweet Spot Aerial Productions

Sweet Spot Aerial Productions formed in early 2015; since its founding, the group has put on numerous productions, including "Where I Belong: Finding Myself Under a Big Top,” and “Shine a Light: A Solstice Circus.” If you spent any time at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, you may have seen Sweet Spot Aerial Productions. Members of Sweet Spot, along with members of Street Light Circus, opened the festival at the Kennedy Center on June 26, 2017. That show was broadcast live as part of the festival, and can be watched on youtube below! Between each act is some information about each act and apparatus, and at the end is a short question and answer session with the many talented performers. [embed][/embed]
Don't forget to purchase your tickets ahead of time! What other circus productions have you seen in D.C.? Let us know in the comments below!

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