DCCC student hula hoops in Old Hollywood Glam Cirque

By Alexis Marshall

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Autumn Cornell, a studio arts major at DCCC, poses in vaudeville costume back stage at Tellus360, following her solo performance for The Circus School of Lancaster showcase. Photo by Alexis Marshall

The backstage area of Tellus360 bar is buzzing as the performers prepare. Wherever you look, people are putting on makeup or fixing their costumes.

A performer sits on the steps to the stage, strapping stilts to her legs. Another complains to her friend about leaving a prop back in her car.

Among the waiting performers is Autumn Cornell, a 25-year-old DCCC studio arts major dressed in a red leotard, black chiffon skirt and black tights; a bowler hat sits upon her head.

“Kind of going for a vaudeville look,” Cornell says, referring to a popular type of entertainment in the early 20th Century.

Cornell was one of several performers participating in the Old Hollywood Glam Cirque Variety Show at the Circus School of Lancaster and Tellus 360 Jan. 22.

Cornell stands next to her props, a peacock feather fan, a black and white pointed umbrella, and a set of four blue hula hoops. She shares that she will be in two performances this evening. One group performance, and one solo act.

“I’m really excited,” she says. “The show is about to begin!” Cornell’s opening act was joined by two performers, Pixie Flowess and Sheena, both 28-year-old Lancaster locals, who performed acrobatics featuring umbrellas set to the “Moulin Rouge” version of “Roxanne.” Cornell’s solo performance was a hula-hoop acrobatic dance, set to a remix of Disney Aladdin’s song “Never Had a Friend Like Me.”

The hulahoop performance featured tricks where she spun the hoops around her wrists, ankles, thighs and around the outside of her body. She steadily added more and more hoops as her performance continued.

“I was surprised,” said Laura Mae, a co-owner of MaeJean Vintage, an antique and vintage jewelry shop in Lancaster. “It was very entertaining.”

The Ladybirds, a dance group from York, Pa, performed three acts. Tina Watkins, 27, performed partner burlesqueacrobatics with Sheena. Anika Alegra, 28, also performed a burlesque act featuring a hula hoop.

“Look at them go,” said Dahlia Jean, a business partner to Laura Mae. “These girls are lovely.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Evan Young, a street performer with 15 years of experience in the field of circus acts.

Between each act, Young shared an old Hollywood glam fun-fact, while performing a trick. One trick involved standing on a balance board while transitioning two hula-hoops across his body in opposite directions, simultaneously.

“Fun fact: Joseph Stalin tried to have John Wayne assassinated because Wayne was openly against communism,” Young said, while balancing a skateboard on his forehead.

The final performance of the evening was a contortion and aerial hoop act, performed by Kiki Konfelli a 38-year-old former gymnast from Maine. She has performed since her childhood.

The night ended with an open floor dance party.

Guests, who were encouraged to come in era-appropriate clothing, were enticed to dance to vaudeville style music.

“We love everything vintage, so this is fantastic,” said Amanda Jean, Dahlia Jean’s sister and co-owner of MaeJean Vintage.

The Circus School of Lancaster will be hosting three more showcases over the course of the next three months. The showcases will be the fourth Tuesday of every month and will feature a different theme each time.

Contact Alexis Marshall at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu