Holy City Cirque Sept. 14, 2014

One doesn’t have to fly to Vegas to get a taste of Cirque du Soleil. As an embracer of the arts, the Holy City didn’t disappoint. The 2nd Annual Holy City Cirque was an array of acro, aerial, specialized dance, music and mixed martial arts. The local and the non were treated to a family-friendly gypsy world.

There wasn’t a more suited environmental host than The Brick House in James Island, just minutes from Folly Beach on Folly road. Brick gates bring a warm welcome from the bustling traffic into a gravel lot that meets the forest behind it. Upon walking up to the second brick entrance, an enormous tree invites people to relax on the swing set while they wait for family and friends.

To the right is the noted Brick House Kitchen, which many locales have yet to step foot in despite the many events that take place there throughout the year. Although with a grill chef on hand most spring and summer nights, it is not difficult to understand why most haven’t placed foot in the restaurant itself. Behind the kitchen is a wooden shack lined with event posters and a painted plaque marked BAR, which seats about fifteen. The bartenders have a warm beach-like persona, yet knowledgeable catering to Holy City brews.

Diagonally behind the kitchen is a headlining stage overlooking the stone path gardens and activity tents. The atmosphere was almost screaming for one to run barefoot and embrace Mother Nature’s gifts.

Patrons were greeted by smiling faces adorn with paint, glitter, and shiny costumes. From the ticket table, one could choose their adventure as a spectator or partaker. Spectators paid a flat five dollar fee to take in the active aroma. The latter, for fifteen dollars in exchange for a wristband, could try their hands, feet, and head at any of the five workshops. All proceeds went to Dragon Boat Charleston, a non-profit that promotes physical and mental wellness among local cancer survivors and their families through row boating.

Adults and children were able to find balance in all play areas. The mini stage, surrounded by dining tables, gave the audience a dinner and show theme. There, belly dancers mentored participants with the art of expressive dance. Later, the experts gave a full performance with plastic swords and colorful sashes. Hula-hoops were provided and instructed by Lori Honey Child, founder of Glitterhoopz.

The acro-yoga area is always better left for visual aids; however, as you might have guessed, it is a combination of yoga and acrobatics. The “bass” is the key player in this sport. They usually lay flat on their backs while propping the “flyer”, who performs an array of flexible skills upon the feet and legs of the “bass”. Two ladies performed a playful girl and the wolf theme to this activity.

Another highlight were the aerial ribbon performers: flying, flipping, and twisting while tangled in ribbon almost ten feet high. Their circus style suits glistened from the sun with each pose and turn. Other activities included juggling, sock twirling, fire hoops (performance only), mixed martial arts, and a dragon dance. The last two mentioned were accompanied by a taiko drum.

Musical acts were by Nathan Steveson & The Swamp Gypsies and acoustics by Greg Guay. Mr. Guay, founder of Suzuki Guitar Lessons, was the overall organizer and MC through the evening’s festivities.

Compared to the first year of Holy City Cirque fun, I found Sunday to be down in volume. This could be do the football season, Second Sunday, and other events around town. The majority of people were groups of families instead of last year’s blend. I believe more people would have participated in the workshops had there been no option at the ticket table. The previous year, you paid a set price and could do as much as you wanted. I would have rather charge $10 flat for all instead of “giving” away a cheaper option. Also I would have had a table representing the Dragon Boat Charleston organization, providing further information and the opportunity for them to earn more donations.

Overall, it was lively and colorful. The venue is always a local favorite for events which keep people returning month after month. Mr. Guay did a wonderful job of keeping things flowing and engaging in the crowd as well as his event staff and friends. This event was a representation of the not-so heard of arts and dances that Charleston has to offer and I do encourage all to experience this at least once in your life.