1906~ A Day in the Life of Velocity Circus

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It has been a while since i have blogged. Lots of life changes, moved to Superior Arizona near where i was born and raised, opened a cafe, began forging new relationships and work in a new community and began remodeling an old adobe house to call home. I reflect back on Mizuta Mashide, the 17th century Japanese Poet and samurai, wrote the following haiku: " Since my house burned down/ I now own a better view/of the rising moon."

This haiku hits close to how i see my old and new worlds, their realities and the gifts of understanding how change is constant and to surrender to the flow of change is healing. There are moments where I feel I have woken up on the embankment of a torrid rushing river wondering what happened and how I arrived, looking up the river only to see a place in the past too hard to get too and too overwhelming to think about, when these feelings rush upon me I only have to look up towards the sky or reach towards nature and plants to ground myself again. For it is the plants and nature that have become my new reality.

I left the streets of San Francisco, the cable cars, the people, the wonderful smells, the art, the social awareness and my dear friends to be closer to the plants. It is through them that I find the answers to my hard and painful questions. It is in their new buds and decaying flowers that life has meaning and when the light of a brilliant sunset shines through new leaves and creeps upon and shadows the colored earth, i am breathless and I know as Dolly once wrote "wildflowers don't care where they grow".

I have been studying plant medicine since before i left San Francisco. Boyce Thompson Arboretum which is 3 miles from my home has been a gentle place for me to hike, reflect, learn and understand our relationship to plants and their intrinsic value to our future and especially in healing our bodies away from the disease and environmental apathy.

I am preparing my home for a dear friend Eda Zevala Lopez a Peruvian Medicine Woman and Amazon Rain forest Activist who will be spending a few weeks with me here in Superior AZ, teaching me more about plant medicine, performing healing ceremonies with local Native American Tribes, conducting regional lectures and workshops on plant medicine, her culture and work with indigenous people. She invited me last year to Peru but I got caught up in opening the new business and relocating to AZ. As things settle here in AZ Eda and I will be planning an extended trip for me to her village in Tarapoto Peru where her and her brother founded a healing center. Here I will continue my studies of plant medicine.

change the one constant in life.....blessings to you my friends!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Velocity Circus - Heliopolis

by Tania Seabock

I have been anticipating seeing Heliopolis for weeks now. I had never seen a “real” Velocity Circus performance. So far it had only been an exhibit of their works and performances at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

I have to say: Wow…what an amazing performance it was!!! Friday night was more then I had expected. They had scheduled a 3 day event for Valentine's Day weekend.

The night began with beautiful choreographed dancers, a very funny funny clown, snake dancers, there was a fire performance and a sword fight (that freaked me out). My favorite was seeing whirling dervish act of Gregangelo himself….WOW, WOW, WOW….is all I have to say about this act!!! I knew he was a pro at this but honestly this act was one of the highlights of the night!!

Gregangelo’s costume spinning during his dervish performance is AMAZING!! I recommend seeing one of Velocity Circus's performances. In fact a Velocity show should be one of San Francisco's must see's!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Heliopolis - Publicity Behind the Scenes

Do you hear that buzzing sound? It could be the return of bees to your local flower field. It could be the electrical circuits racing through the electric lines above your head. Or it could be people
talking about the amazing Heliopolis show that just took place at the small and intimate Randall Museum Theater.

I haven't blogged in a while, so I'll discuss the event production a bit. After conceptualizing the event's theme and general goals, the initial work was securing a venue for the dates of the event and touring the facility, which the Randall Museum graciously arranged with us back in December.The next step was preparing publicity materials, including a press release, locating a graphic designer to make the smooth, eye-catching images for flyers, posters, invitations, and whatever else necessary to make the event look and be appealing to the intended audience.

Identifying the audience was also part of this and can be one of the trickiest parts. We wanted to reach as wide a segment of the population while also paying attention to smaller subcultures. To do this, we used imagery that we thought would appeal to a women as well as men, straight as well as queer. We also targeted advertising in areas of San Francisco and the East Bay where people already interested in circus and dance, whether primarily as watchers or also as performers, were likely to see it. This included eateries in "hip" areas, dance studios, universities, and community centers. We utilized Web 2.0 tools like Facebook and Youtube to help us get the word out to friends and past clients of Gregangelo. In addition, we contacted our press network and received coverage in the local newspapers, as well as very brief notes on television and on the radio.

Once people began buying tickets, we got a better picture of who our audience was and adjusted out marketing approach slightly to reach certain segments of the population, notably other artists and people with Middle Eastern/Mediterranean background or interest. During the last two weeks, we also placed quite a number of telephone calls to friends, work associates, and businesses to encourage the purchase of pre-sale tickets since we preferred to handle as few transactions at the event itself as possible. With her years of subscription sales experience for such notable arts organizations as the SF Ballet and the SF Opera, Lorna Zilba helped us significantly during this aspect.

Thankfully, we did not need to devote much time to recruiting volunteers, partially because the space itself was not very large - a 150-seat theater attached to a small museum. Our existing relationship with FIDM, the
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandizing, also helped. Most of our enthusiastic volunteers that weekend came from FIDM. Partnerships are indeed important in helping make productions successful.

Photo credit: Holly Stewart. Poster design: Taylor Collins

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Save the Music! Save the Block! Cuts Hurt Hayward Schools!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It was a fascinating day yesterday.

You never know who you are going to see or what the day will bring.

We began our morning at CUE Space in West Oakland filming Darkhia our Mongolian Hand Dancer for an artist profile series. Darkhia has a fascinating story we hope to bring to light through this interview and performance. She was raised in the country side of Mongolia and began learning traditional Mongolian Dance at the age of 8. In addition she has gymnastics training, was in the Mongolian Army, can butcher livestock for a meal and then rushed off to catch a plane to perform for kings and queens. She has performed Internationally on many acclaimed stages, festivals and won several international awards. When we are together I cannot help but to be drawn into her life story and it's continuing journey. I also met with a producer at CUE who is using the space and several of our artists for a commercial shoot who cast several of artist for a "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" though I have to admit there in nothing ordinary about a person that can fly through the air on a trapeze or that is training to break the Guinness Book of world records for the most back flips on jumping stilts.

We hurried back to San Francisco after the shoot to meet up with Gregangelo as we had an event last night. We walked into our home which was filled with an extraordinary candy display in the music room and shopping bags full of exotic nuts, fruits and confections. Gregangelo is preparing for a holiday gathering next week at our home and everything he does is art including serving guests and as so his attention to detail is unbelievable.
The event we participated in last night was the launch party for Emirate Airlines at the Herbst Pavillion. It was quite a beautiful event. We were part of the program which was the Salute to the Arts of San Francisco which include the San Francisco Symphony, Alonzo King's Lines Ballet, Velocity Circus and a speech by Mayor Gavin Newsom welcoming His Highness from the Emirates and the Emirate Airlines. In addition Sheryl Crow and Hillary Swank made stage appearances.

Gregangelo and I rushed out of the event after our performance to a private concert for a live recording of Vinsantos new CD. It was held in a gorgeous Victorian home in the Western Addition. The line-up included Vinsantos on vocals and piano, Featuring Kiddie ,Fauxnique, Suzanne Ramsey Uke and Piano, Ricky Furcoat drums and percussion,Kenny Girl Bass Guitar. It was quite a scene full of alternative artists, gays and female impersonators gathering to hear a remarkable only in San Francisco melodramatic sound infused with heart wrenching lyrics and a visual feast of eye candy. Check out Vinsantos site at http://www.vinsantosmusic.com/ I have heard about Vinsantos over the years but this was my first opportunity to see and hear him perform. I am certainly his newest fan!
We finished our night with a cocktail at the Midnight Sun in the Castro where we met a very recent transplant from Seattle "Queen Wilhemina". Wilhemina is a very bright and vibrant gay drag performer who moved through the crowd breaking smiles on the stoniest of faces and throwing fear to the wind literally danced through the crowd introducing himself and everyone to each other. He moved to San Francisco 4 days ago to pursue a career as a R&B/Gospel singer and belted out and sang along with the 70’s disco tunes the DJ was spinning and showing on the video tron.

You have to love this city and its arts, where a person can experience a Mongolian Hand Dancer, the Symphony, the Ballet, a Circus and a new underground sound and scene all in day all in San Francisco.

Jeffrey Ferns

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Seeing STARS
by Sottol Weng

This Saturday, the comet of Gregangelo & Velocity Arts & Entertainment swung into the orbit of Santa Cruz for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History's (MAH) annual STARS gala. We shined throughout three floors of red globe motif accented halls and galleries to present in. A juggling-balancing clown, a beaked stuntperson on stilts, a joke-cracking stilt-walker, and an accordionist greeted the guests as they drifted in.

After a few technical difficulties, Velocity Arts contortionist Bogi performed before a rapt audience of VIP guests at the STARS live auction. Surprising how well the Museum did with that item of the evening; someone bid $1800 on a dinner for 20!

After the live auction got under way, dining tables were brought out on the ground floor and a band played some of Billboard's top 40s for the Baby Boomer set. Later that night, one of Gregangelo's rhythmic gymnasts tousled the attentions of the diners milling about the elevator.

Overall, a smooth event and evening.

Here is Tyler Parks looking red and Seuss-icle.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Kitten on the Keys Slideshow

Kitten on the Keys new slideshow created by Hiromi Yoshida of Velocity


A peel of laughter and piano music greeted me as I entered the Gregangelo House today. It was none other than Rita Abrams rehearsing one of her new songs for her production of As the Bridge Tolls and the Gregangelo crew gathered around.

Passing through the atrium, I glanced over and saw Darkhia, Mongolian Hand Dancer (and one of the primary chefs here) carefully applying make-up to an elf-in-the-making.

The funny thing about pop culture is that it there are not more accidental crossovers. For instance, there are the elves of Christmas, Oompa-Loompa-like cogs in the great toy making factory of Santa Claus. Then there are J.K. Rowling's moth-beaten house elves, completely different from the noble (and fine) forest elves from J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. And somehow we get away with calling them ALL elves without getting them mushed up together into one gooey surrealistic painting in our heads (or at least my head).

Speaking of spirits and surreal images, I had the opportunity to meet Jim Berenholtz recently. Jim is one of those people with a really old soul. And I mean old like Brothers Grimm or pre-Scientific Revolution old, not old like stale cheese. This guy has traveled and lived with people all over the world, sometimes staying in huts and tin shacks. He is an accomplished ethnomusicologist, composer, snake dancer (see photo), musician, performance artist, and a researcher of many things indigenous.

One of Jim's favorite topics is Ancient Egypt and he is collaborating with Gregangelo & Velocity Arts & Entertainment to develop the "Heliopolis - City of the Sun" presentations. Here is Jim Berenholtz in the first of a 3-part series talking about the influence of Ancient Egypt on other civilizations (with a voiceover by yours truly): Sottol Weng Click HERE.


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