This report goes back to late May this year to take an inside look at the ‘Global Stilt Congress’ from three Arcosanti residents who participated in the two-week workshop. Jane Tellini manages the Ceramics studio at Arcosanti, her sister Sal Tellini is a staff member of the Ceramics studio and Alix DeWald is a staff member in the Arcosanti foundry. Here is their report:

“The Global Stilt Congress is a newly-inaugurated annual gathering of stilt walkers from around the world to participate in skill-swapping and –building workshops, create an original performance, and share the work going on by various companies and individuals joining together at Arcosanti for two weeks.

[photo by Steven Bochinski]

The first week this year was packed with workshops in Samba, Aerial, Afro-Caribbean, Butoh, and Contact Acrobatics. As Arcosanti residents who had just learned to walk and dance on stilts in preparation for this event, we were welcomed into the stilt community and felt both supported and challenged alongside veteran stilters – some who had been stilting for over 20 years!   

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

The second week consisted of a lot of hard work and patience. We were taking the skills we had learned in week 1 and solidifying them into a spectacular performance piece. Every day we would gather with 2-4 of the teachers in 2-3 hour time segments and set a choreographed section, that in totality would form “The Legislation”.

[Sal Tellini, photo by Sue Kirsch]

The days were longer this week, spanning from 8am to 6pm. There were moments where we were setting the specifics of the piece, often waiting, on stilts, for an hour while different dynamics were thought out (ie. Music, different group choreography, technical aspects & prop placement). Overall the week made us stronger & ready to perform in our first ever stilt performance!  

[Alix DeWald, photo by Sue Kirsch] 

In a small studio in the lab building we set up our “sweat shop” in which all of the performers gathered at different points in the day to make and collaborate on costumes, meanwhile all of the lighting and tech were being set up by a crew.  The musicians arrived the night before the performance and we did a dress rehearsal, learning the musical cues.

 [photo by Sue Kirsch]

An undercurrent of the show was based on an old folk tale from the nation of Guiana, the home country of a long time stilter, Julio. He enacted the role of 100 year old stiltwalker Ojembo from the land of many waters and the blessing and curse that was bestowed upon him.

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

450 people came to be our audience, and they didn’t sit in one place but migrated with the show across all of Arcosanti. 

[Jane Tellini in white and red, photo by Sue Kirsch]

At one point in the amphitheater the whole audience was on the stage and the performers were descending the amphitheater seating making our way to the moat. Submerged in the moat was our “moat poet” Logan Dirtyverbs who struck a flare and recited his poem oscillating between english and spanish. 

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

The finale was mix of stilters on areal slings and fire, dancing and a conga line, after dancing to soka music brought from the island of Trinidad in the style of Moko Jumbies, we all lined up to take a bow.”

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

Here are the new stilt walkers as part of the ‘Italian Night’ performance on June 21. 2014.

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

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