Portland, OR. The Circus Project, a Portland non-profit dedicated to transforming lives through the circus arts, celebrated its tenth anniversary with Change(d) Together, a multi-media event incorporating storytelling and performances by world-class aerialists and acrobats. Circus Project coach and dancer Alicia Cutaia performed on an aerial bungee during the cocktail hour. The event took place on October 11th at Peter Corvallis Warehouse on North Randolph. The Circus Project converted the expansive venue into a heaven for trapeze, silks, lyra and acrobatics. The Circus Project was created with the mission of empowering homeless and traditionally underserved youth and young adults through the development of innovative, skilled circus productions.

Performer Ty Vennewitz entertains guests.

Featured artist Zoe Stasko, who also presented the ask, performs on aerial straps.

Circus Project students and invited guest performers perform in the final bows.

Circus Project coach and aerialist Alison Lockfeld pours champagne for guests from an aerial trapeze.

Guests were welcomed with a cocktail hour during which they could have their champagne poured by an aerialist upside-down on a trapeze. Entertainment included circus classics like a stilt-walker and juggler, alongside unusual images such as a bouncing aerial dancer and a giant aerial birdcage. Guests also had the opportunity to experience feats of strength by professional strong-woman Tera Nova Zara for a small donation.

A live band led a parade to bring the guests into the main dining area, where Crown Paella provided family-style paella. The entertainment continued, with roving entertainment such as a special bottle delivery by jugglers and a maître’d on rollerskates. Live Brazilian music was provided throughout dinner by POPgoji.

After opening remarks, the main program began. The show included video interviews with students sharing how their lives have changed through their time at the Circus Project, and complemented those with live circus performances by the video interviewees. A lively raise-the-paddle ensued, including a dramatic game of last-man-standing and a celebratory moment of strongwoman Tera Nova Zara breaking a wineglass with just her voice when the group reached a matching grant!

After the raise the paddle, we returned to the circus show, where a collection of national and international professional circus artists performed high-level, innovative acts and took the event out with a festive bang.

The event was the first fundraising gala the team had put on in seven years, and raised over $100,000.

From the Circus Project:

The Circus Project believes in art as a powerful vehicle for transformation, which cuts across social barriers to inspire new perspectives and creative solutions to conflict.  We believe that art is most relevant and evocative when the process through which it is created reflects the diversity of our community.

Thus, the Circus Project strives to foster an atmosphere of diversity, creativity, and respect in which people feel able to participate, express themselves, and be heard independently of their gender, race, religion, physical abilities, mental diagnosis, national or ethnic origin, social status, income, age, size, sexual orientation, or gender identification. 

Further, the Circus Project strives to cultivate a deeper level of dialogue and inclusiveness that makes space for all people as well as various and competing views, tensions, feelings, styles of communication, and earth spirits – in a way that supports awareness of relative rank, power, and privilege, and the potential of these forces to marginalize other views, individuals, groups, and species. 

Through outreach to underserved and marginalized populations, attention to imbalance, acceptance of people from all walks of life, and a commitment to eradicating both internalized and externalized oppression, the Circus Project strives to expand the definition of art beyond that of the various disciplines to encompass a way of looking at the world, appreciating diversity, and building sustainable communities.