Invert!, feminist-inspired circus and aerial arts show at the Rotunda May 16-18

May 13, 2013


Tangle founder Lauren Rile Smith with member Sarah Nicolazzo / Photo by Michael Ermilio

West Philly’s Tangle Movement Arts, the all-female circus arts company known for its wildly popular public showcase, tinycircus, is back with an all-new, full-length aerial dance show, Invert!, that’s sure to excite and inspire. The interdisciplinary piece debuts at the Sanctuary at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, on Thursday evening and runs through Saturday, May 18.

Apropos for today’s political climate, Invert! is a testament to female strength, using acrobatics, dance and theater, spoken word, and live music to dissect and exalt the female and queer experiences, as well as the connection between women—be it in “relationships of sex, friendship, support, or antagonism.” In exploring these motifs, members of the nine-woman cast will ascend and engulf the space of the Rotunda’s 40-foot ceilings, performing a “Cher-inspired” sequined trapeze solo, a “punk-rock” acrobatic duet, “drag-inspired diva fabulousness,” and live carpentry and cartwheels (complete with a cordless power drill!) in tribute to feminist icon Rosie the Riveter. The emotionally- and artistically-charged routine will also feature tango violin solos by Julliard musician Caeli Smith.

“Tangle was founded with the vision of creating feminist circus-theater, so female relationships and experiences have always been a central focus for our work. Our aerial dance is very physically intense as well as collaborative, so making shows about female strength and connections between women is just a natural extension of that process,” said Tangle founder Lauren Rile Smith, who’s “thrilled” to bring Invert! to West Philly. “It’s also a deliberate political commitment, however. In a world of media in which women—and their relationships—are frequently erased or flattened into jokes, we feel an essential need to represent a diverse range of female bodies, relationships, and capabilities.”

But it’s not only in theme in which Invert! celebrates both circus arts and queer history. According to Rile Smith, “invert” not only signifies circus arts’ basic vocabulary (“a body-upside-down”), it is also the 19th-century term used to label gender nonconformists. “In joining these two traditions, we promise an evening of upended expectations,” she told West Philly Local.

Tangle fans who can’t make it to Invert! will have a chance to see the two-year-old company in action when it presents its next tinycircus performance to the West Park Arts Fest at the School of the Future, 4021 Parkside Avenue, on June 18.

Annamarya Scaccia

Show Information

Tangle presents Invert!a spectacle of aerial dance and circus-theater.
Thursday, May 16 – Saturday, May 18
8:30 p.m.
The Sanctuary at the Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Tickets: $10-15 (discounts for artists, students, seniors, and groups). Purchase at the door or online at

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