Circus atmosphere surrounds balance groups
Laura Lantz and Andrew Dekkinga of Slackline Pittsburgh high-five each other as they walk on the slackline ropes.
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There is more to the scene at Slackline Pittsburgh's gatherings on Sundays than slacklines. Jugglers often meet to practice beside -- sometimes on -- the lines, and hoola hoops abound.
"There are lots of toys to play with," said Laura Lantz, the group's founder. Slackline Pittsburgh is part of a plethora of loosely linked Steel City circus groups. Bloomfield resident Katherine Durgin said she's hoping to start a circus "school," with an alternative fitness program where anyone can learn to walk on a tightrope or fly across a stage on a trapeze. First, she wants to bring the circus groups of Pittsburgh together for a festival of fire and flying objects.
"I want to gather groups from Pittsburgh -- they're just everywhere," she said. "If we got together for one event, where we can set up classes, and have it be an alternative arts festival, it would be a great way to get people coming to Pittsburgh for this type of thing."
The festival is in the works for summer of 2012. In the meantime, Pittsburghers can drop by at performances and practices of the many groups Durgin hopes to gather, many of which welcome and teach beginners.
Steel City Hoop Union The group hosts Hoop Jams at the Union Project (801 N Negley Ave., Oakland) every Tuesday. As they put it, "If you hoop, we want to meet you. If you don't, we want to teach you."
Pittsburgh Fire Arts A group of fire spinners who meet regularly in Frick park on Thursday evenings.
Carnegie Mellon Masters of Flying Objects A Carnegie Mellon University group, open to the community, including jugglers who practice twice a week. One weekly meeting is with Slackline Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Show-Offs A group of "jugglers, yo-yoers, circus folk and other variety arts enthusiasts" that meets 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Union Project, with teaching time followed by self-directed practice time.
KnotDance A dance-theater company that describes itself as "people empowered movement." It offers classes in aerial silk dance.
Pittsburgh Parkour Association A group of local "traceurs" that meets regularly to train in this method of movement, which aims to move between locations in the most efficient means possible, often resulting in acrobatics.
First Published December 11, 2011 12:00 am