The world-famous acrobatic circus Cirque du Soleil is in town this weekend, but if the $35 to $100 ticket price is too much of a stretch, head over to Geno’s on Sunday and check out the homegrown human talents of the Smoke and Mirror Circus.

The scale, cast and set are smaller, but so is the ticket price: It will only set you back $6.

Like Cirque du Soleil, the Smoke and Mirror Circus performs without animals, instead relying solely on the talents of the human body. This means jugglers, trapeze artists, poi twirlers, belly dancers, hoopers, mimes and a live band will fill the stage.

The show, which lasts two hours including an intermission, features a dreamy, narrative tale set to music but without any dialogue.

“We’ve got this mime falling asleep and then her shadow steps out of her body behind a silhouette screen,” said director and ringmaster Diana Duane. “It’s a lot artsier this year. It’s really colorful and dark at the same time. The story comes across as really dreamy and magical.”

As the mime, played by Bettina Black, travels through this dreamy jungle world, she encounters numerous animal spirits that guide her on her way.


The circus made its debut last summer with a show that told the tale of a man finding his place in the world. This Sunday marks the final performance of the current show.

“We’re taking a month off to write the next show,” Duane said. “Then we’re coming back in December.”

The cast includes 16 performers who have found their way to the circus through the myriad intersections of Portland’s creative community.

The cast does change a bit with each performance, and some of the folks you’ll see on stage this Sunday include belly dancer Michelle Estelle, dancer and trapeze artist Braelyn Degnan, juggler Jody Cash and aerial silk artist Jenn Bliss.

Many of the cast members perform pieces of the original musical score, but the core members of the Smoke and Mirror orchestra include Gina Brown, who performs on piano, bass and drums; Dana Erickson, who plays the drums, saxophone and guitar; April H, who plays the guitar; and Duane, who sings and plays piano and guitar.

The show also features hula hooper April Stuart, who is also a poi twirler. This art form typically involves swirling batons of fire.


Duane said when she first approached Geno’s owner, J.R. D’Alessandro, about hosting the shows, “he said sure, but absolutely no fire.” As a result, Stuart’s batons will be lit by LEDs rather than flames.

Duane said the dynamic show – even without the flames – gets positive feedback from audiences.

“Everybody’s well entertained in Portland,” Duane said. “There’s plenty of bands to go and see, and theater to go and see. But this is something different, and I think people really like it.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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