Hudson, New York
Body/Soul | Local culture
29 July 2013 03:44PM

Aerial artist Veronica Blair, star of the UniverSoul Circus, Make-a-Circus, and Afrika! Afrika!, Germany’s most popular new circus, visits Hudson in August, bringing performance and classes in aerial silks and rope.

The Bay Area resident will be appearing with The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus at Bard’s SummerScape Spiegeltent at Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4, in 11 am matinee shows for all ages.

During the week of August 5 – 9, in addition to coaching a group of Hudson youth in Bindlestiff’s Cirkus Skills Summer Camp in preparation for a performance at the August 10th Black Arts and Cultural Festival Family Day event at Henry Hudson Waterfront Park, Veronica will be offering aerial arts classes for adults and teens in the evenings.

On August 5, 7 and 9, Beginners, intermediates, and advanced students are all welcome to attend. Introductory classes are 4pm – 6pm, and are $65 each class or $175 for three classes. Intermediate and advanced classes are 6:30 – 8:30pm, and are $80 per class or $220 for three classes. Classes are to be held in the City of Hudson Department of Youth Center, at 18 S. 3rd Street, second floor gymnasium. For information and registration, email VeronicaBlair@gmail.com

An aerialist of elegance and true excellence, Veronica Blair has studied with some of the most celebrated and prominent artists in her field. From greats LaNorma Fox and Pamela Hernandez, who bears the distinction of being the very first African-American aerialist to perform with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus; to the renowned “God Father of the Tissu” Gerard Fasoli of Ecole Supérieure des Arts du Cirque, Belgium.

Veronica started her acrobatic career at the age of 14 with Make*A*Circus, a community based circus. In addition she trained Chinese Acrobatics at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts (now known as Circus Center). Her first professional performance was at the age of 17, making her one of the youngest professional African-American trapeze artists in the U.S. Shortly after, Veronica was personally selected by Cedric Walker, the founder of the Universoul Circus, as a single trapeze artist. Under Mr. Walker’s supervision, Veronica rapidly developed as an aerialist, and was the show’s resident aerialist for 5+ years.
After her residency with the circus, Veronica performed with world-renowned performance groups in various productions around the world including AntiGravity, Universal Studios Japan, and AFRIKA! AFRIKA! the most successful circus show in Germany.
Veronica Blair’s aerial dance is an exquisite and original technique, with a combination of sheer strength and pure style. Her combining of aerial tissu with traditional elements from aerial straps create a visually stunning and technically versatile act.

In addition, Veronica is an ardent scholar of circus history, and is the creator and executive producer of “The Uncle Junior Project”, a feature length documentary that weaves the story of wild animal trainer Emanuel “Junior” Ruffin, with Veronica Blair’s journey across America to document and archive relatively unknown African-American circus performers. The film, through intimate interviews, will capture their unique stories of life on the road, and under the big top. What inspired them to run away with the circus, and how they fit into an ostracized realm of entertainment where African-American performers are not traditionally present. 
Complete interviews from the film will be archived and donated to the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin; as well as the Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York, thereby insuring that a unique & fascinating part of American history is preserved. 
Research and pre-production for TUJP began in October 2010. In mid-January 2011, Veronica and crew began filming. The first artist profiled was on Harlem’s own PARIS the Hip Hop Juggler. After a day of shooting, Veronica knew she had something special. Since then, she has completed 13 interviews in three cities, but, says Veronica, “We still have a long way to go.” So far, this project has been completely funded out of Blair’s pocket, spending most of 2011 performing in circuses and Variete in US and Europr, while filming to raise funds for the production. More information about The Uncle Junior Project, and links to help fund the project, can be found online at http://theunclejuniorproject.com/about.html

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