I’m not sure if it’s just that I was too busy or completely blind, but it seems to me like the institution of circus arts wasn’t really that much of a thing twenty years ago. While I was working and going to college, it seemed to me like Flam Chen was the only performance troupe of its kind here in Tucson. Then, almost out of the thin air, it seemed like all kinds of insane talent was erupting from the Old Pueblo. Elemental Artistry, Cirque Roots, and Tucson Circus Arts began to gain momentum, and a variety of independent performance artists started to couple with area musicians to create unique live performances. Poi spinning, hula hoop choreography, aerial acrobatics, sword swallowing, and every other conceivable form of circus, vaudeville, and musicianship was available around every corner.
Today’s image of the day is a picture of one such performer, Jimmy Linenberger, performing with The Bennu. I continue to be amazed by the massive amount of talent and creativity out there, and feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to see people like Jimmy perform on stage.
There really isn’t much that I have to say about All Souls. For anybody who has lived in Southern Arizona, you already know about it. For everybody else, the All Souls Procession is a Tucson tradition that culminates in a community-wide procession through the downtown area, ending with a grand finale of pyrotechnic theater, live music, and acrobatics. The event first began in 1990 by a local artist, Susan Kay Johnson, who wished to express her sadness over the loss of her father; she wanted to ritualize her grief and create an event, much like Dia de los Muertos, to honor the dead.
Tens of thousands participate every year. People start to gather along 4th and 6th avenues before sun-down, arriving in costume, tailgating and helping paint each other’s faces in a fashion reminiscent of Day of the Dead. Jugglers and street performers, musicians and stilt-walkers weave through the throngs of people. Participants are encouraged to write notes to the dead on pieces of paper and deposit them into a giant urn that leads the procession – once the urn reaches the end of the procession, it is elevated above the crowd and set ablaze.
I have never seen a not-for-profit, grass-roots community event like this anywhere else. It’s an amazing thing to see.