The Columbia Circus Collective held their Spring Cabaret last Sunday on the Butler East Lawn.

On Sunday, April 17, the East Lawn was unusually busy at 5 pm. A crowd of students, some stray prospies from tour groups, and some family members were assembled on picnic blankets, despite the somewhat chilly weather. The attraction was the Columbia Circus Collective’s Spring Cabaret, a showcase of the wide range of talents and abilities of the members of the collective. 

Starting at 3 pm, the club was offering a variety of lessons and interactive activities, including a “make your own juggling balls and learn to juggle” session. The talented hula-hoopers in the club instructed amateurs on how to hula-hoop. At 5:30 pm, the showcase began, an hour packed full of impressive circus feats, from various aerial skills to juggling acts to some dance-esque performances to a clowning segment.

The show began with a club-wide choreographed segment, as dancers cartwheeled across the lawn, hula-hoopers hooped their way across the “stage,” and jugglers began to juggle. Then a “ringmaster” appeared to introduce each of the acts, dressed in an elaborate and campy circus costume. The Circus Collective’s VP, Maia Castro-Santos (CC ‘25), demonstrated an impressive skill of hula hooping with multiple hoops at once, balancing a hoop on each limb in a display of flexibility, balance, and precision that was awe-inspiring. Castro-Santos is a woman of many talents, and she had multiple appearances in the showcase, including a segment on the suspended aerial hoop with Alexandra Bilder (BC ‘24), where the two moved in perfect synchronization, spinning gracefully and entrancing the audience. Whether on the hoop or with hoops on her, Castro-Santos’ talent was a highlight of the showcase.

Another highlight was Angela Zhang (CC ‘22), who performed on the aerial ropes; her seeming weightlessness made a complex athletic feat look effortless. In between acts that took place on the lawn, Circus Collective president Sam Landa (CC ‘22) deftly climbed up the ropes to clip new props and tools onto the suspension apparatus; he got his moment to shine near the end of the showcase as he performed on the silks himself. He also shared a suspended anchor with Bilder in another impressive display of synchronicity.

Besides the impressive athleticism and coordination, there were moments of comic relief that came from clowning and juggling segments. Surya Buddharaju (CC ‘23) and Anne-Marie Dillon (CC ‘23) performed an extensive piece about “struggling to graduate,” combining aspects of miming and clownery with their painted faces and exaggerated movements. Their “dialogue” was hard to hear in the outdoors setting, but most of it took the form of babbles in an uncanny impression of President Bollinger. There were also a few jugglers who turned their juggling routines into pseudo-stand-up comedy. 

Overall, the show was a well-balanced and extremely entertaining hour of talented students exhibiting their abilities, and it kept a physically chilly but enthusiastically warm audience engaged throughout. 

Maia Castro-Santos via my iPhone