About Suspended Cirque

Suspended Cirque was founded by five veterans of the performing arts world – Joshua Dean, Michelle Dortignac, Benjamin Franklin, Angela Jones and Kristin Olness.

Between the five of them, a wide range of artistic skill was represented, including but not limited to Broadway-style singing, championship acrobatics, playing classical instruments such as clarinet, saxophone and piano, and a range of Dance training from Ballet to Butoh.

Having had a wealth of experience, Suspended Cirque members had been seen on Broadway in Cabaret, at the Joyce Theater and at Lincoln Center, and performing with such names as Twyla Tharp. The members of Suspended Cirque ambitiously set out to capitalize on their breadth of knowledge and skill in every production they created.

“Sure, we all know that everything Fred did, Ginger did backwards and in high heels. But everything Martha Graham’s protégés have done, Suspended Cirque is doing in mid-air.”
– Lauren Wissot, TheaterOnline.com

Within its premiere year, Suspended Cirque created 4 dramatically different shows, resulting in an Artists-In-Residency at the Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Many of their shows “sold-out” the house. But more importantly, all Suspended Cirque shows pushed the members to utilize any and all possible performance skills they had. Not only consummate aerial acrobats, each performer also displays talents such as singing, acting, floor acrobatics, playing musical instruments, and dancing.

That’s a lot of rehearsal, yo.

“…[Suspended Cirque’s] sense of fun and play, the company’s sheer exuberance is contagious.”
– Lauren Wissot, TheaterOnline.com

The shows Suspended Cirque have produced range from thematic (Across the Water – every act/number related to water in its many forms and Under the Tree 1 & 2 – End-of-the-Year Holiday shows) to an audience interactive musical (Swingin’ At Jack’s – a story that centers around the owner of a 1940’s nightclub, his struggles both romantically and financially) to a darkly dramatic urban fairytale (Urbanopolis/Subterranea – inspired by Greek mythological tales such as the “Iliad”).

“…there was poignant intimacy in the daredevilry.”
– Leigh Witchel, Dance Writer (NY POST, Ballet Review)

Suspended Cirque productions set themselves apart from typical aerial/circus cabaret shows by showing the vulnerability of the performers as humans first, and displaying their physical talents second. Whereas most circus cabarets present act after act, neither the performers nor the acts ever relating to each other, Suspended Cirque shows are fully integrated evenings. Each Suspended Cirque member creates his/her own role within the greater context of the show as well as creating and performing the individual acts. The result is that no performer simply executes a series of tricks, but rather every performer expresses a part of his/her character, staying in character throughout the evening. Most often, characters are developed from the performer’s own personality and individuality. In this way, the audience feels genuinely connected to each performer. Oftentimes, feeling they’ve gotten to know the performer on a personal level.

“[Suspended Cirque’s] got an unpretentious charm.”
– Leigh Witchel, NYpost.com

Using circus acts to convey a comprehensible and human narrative is not new. In fact, it has already become an established art form outside of the U.S., and has been given the name, “Nouveau Cirque.” The Nouveau Cirque style is popular due to being more intimate, more unique, and less expensive than the large, commercial circus counterparts; turning the traditional cirque performer from an inaccessible superhuman/mystical creature to a real person who is relatable to audience members. “With Cirque du Soleil shows, the athletes are so perfect, and there is so much happening all at the same time, I find I get desensitized to the difficulty of the tricks,” admits Eren Rosenfeld, a fan of both Cirque du Soleil and Suspended Cirque. “In a Suspended Cirque show, I can see the humanity of the performers, which makes all the difficult tricks that they do seem even more impressive.”

Suspended Cirque defines the “Nouveau Cirque” movement in New York City, with each show being drastically different from the last, relying heavily on the unique skill set of each performer. Each show features different company members as well as different guest artists.

Find out more about Suspended Cirque’s newest production, DeFLYance. »

Original Suspended Cirque company members:

Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin, Michelle Dortignac, Kristin Olness, and Angela Jones

Suspended Cirque in 2009: Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin, Michelle Dortignac, Kristin Olness, and Angela Jones