By Julaine Hall
In this exciting blog post, I had the privilege to interview the famous Terry Crane! He is a Seattle native, a performer known the world over, founder and artistic director of Acrobatic Conundrum, and a kind person! Over phone I was able to ask him lots of questions about his life of circus and creativity. His adventures and opinions are very inspiring. We talked so long this article is a two-parter! Stay tuned for the second half coming out shortly. Without further ado… Interview with Terry Crane, part one!
J: What is your main discipline?
T: My main discipline is climbin’ ropes!
J: Sick! And, how long have you been doing circus?
T: Um, I began doing circus in 1999, no that’s not true, it was 2000. It was 2000.
J: Nice, cool, cool! And what was the first circus thing that you did and how old were you when you tried it.
T: Well, I thing officially, I started juggling when I was like 13. But basically the first aerial thing I tried in the aerial world was static trapeze.
T: Yeah, and I really liked it but I really wanted to get into rope.
J: Groovy, okay, cool, cool! What made you attracted to rope?
T: Oh man, there was something kind of magical about it and I couldn’t figure out how the person doing it was, um, was doing all these different wraps. There was something quite mysterious about it and I just really wanted to wrap my head around it. And, actually the first time I saw rope was in a circus show at my college, Oberlin College, and someone was performing and I saw this act with this kind of puzzle-like quality to it and I thought , OMG, I just need to figure out how to do that.
J: Nice, oh sweet, Let’s see what was the first circus school/and or company and or circus group that you were affiliated with?
T: Um, good question and what do you mean by that? Like that I was hired by as a professional or as a -(speaking over – indistinct)
J: I just mean who you trained under or worked for, basically what group did you start in?
T: Well, what group did you start in?
J: I guess I’d say I started in 1-Ders (the youngest performing group, ages 5-8, at my circus school, SANCA).
J: Nice, okay, cool, cool, cool. What other groups have you been a part of?
T: Word. Umm. Wow, okay. Fairly long list.
T: When I was at ENC I collaborated with 7 Fingers a little bit.
T: And then when I finished ENC I was part of a collaboration called Honolulu Punch.
J: Oh, cool.
T: That was all other ENC grads. And then after that got a contract with Circus Starlight in Switzerland. Um, oh then, I came back and I worked with Kevin O’Connor on a show called the Sunlight Zone.
J: Oh, nice.
T: It was another very collaborative, kind of grass roots thing.
T: And, after that, oh my gosh, I don’t know. I went to China and I studied at the Beijing International Arts School. Um, doing more acrobatics.
J: Oh, sick!
T: And, I worked a little bit in Thailand as well. Um, Then I got a job, uh, working for a circus in Finland. Um, I might need to spell this for you. Um, It was called “talvisirkus huurjaruuth”
T: Yeah. Um, and, then I worked for Circus Flora in St. Louis. Then I went and worked for Teatro Zinzanni a few times. I was in like 6 different shows at Zinzanni. 4 kids shows and 2 main shows.
T: Yeah, that, like took a long time for me to kind of break into that, um, little mold there at Teatro Zinzanni.
J: Most of the time when you look up “Terry Crane” on the internet what you’ll find is your Teatro Zinzanni act where you do it to Paper Planes and you have the glasses and the collared shirt. It’s so funny!
T: Oh yeah, man, I did that act for so long, for some many years! Um, let’s see. Oh yeah, that reminds me that I performed at Moisture Festival for like 6 or 7 years. And then I also did another Swiss circus, I was at Circus Monti.
J: Oh yeah.
T: And, um, I’ve done lots of corporate events. And, then yeah, I formed my own company, Acrobatic Conundrum. And, that’s all the stuff I can think of right now.
J: Awesome! Well, that’s super cool.
J: This one here is kind of deep. What five or so most meaningful projects have you been a part of?
T: It was the second show that I did with Circus Syzygy with Ben Wendel, Rachel Nehmer, Marieve Dicaire, Giulio Lanzafame, and Mick Holsbeck, all those guys.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: When we went to France. We were all living in trailers around this one friend’s circus space called “la grainerie” and we — and it was so good and, like, because we were all the time we were talking about our ideas. And we actually took this contract with Circus Monti before we did this show and for the whole year, you know we probably did 300 shows for Circus Monti and all 6 of us were there and we’d have these meetings where we would just talk and talk about our ideas. And, we also just got to know each other really well too, over the course of that year.
J: Oh, nice.
T: And, then we, when we were in France we were working really hard on it. We had this theater like 24/7, like for 2 months. Then we finally performed it. And so it was really good! It was also really difficult because we didn’t have a director.
T: So, we were like, all the director, in a way. And we were constantly trying to get our own way. And, um, so that was really hard. And, in some ways I think that that made it so we had to take a break from working together, because we were all kind of wrapped up in our own view points and it had just been such a difficult process. Um, and that we kind of had to—well, I’ll just speak for myself. For me personally, I was like, okay I gotta take a little break from this.
J: Oh yeah, I gotcha. Makes sense.
J: Yeah, cool, cool. Thank you.
T: Wait, you said top 5, right.
J: Yeah, top 5. If you can’t like narrow it down to one, then like top 5 or so.
T: Okay, let me give you a couple of more meaningful experiences.
T: Um, I have really enjoyed making my own work with Acrobatic Conundrum.
J: Oh yeah!
T: Um, performing “Love and Gravity” has been really — was really meaningful and getting to tour that to different circus communities. And, something that I love about that show was the way that we got to
interact with the audience. And in some ways we got to kind of make them be part of the show. That was always really fun for me. And, then another really meaningful one was, shoot, drawing a blank. Well, I’ve done some pretty meaningful street shows. Um, which I think have been really fun because it’s pretty magical to perform for someone who was not really expecting to see a show.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: Um, yeah, so working with like Melissa Knowles and doing some street shows has been super fun. Oh yeah, and so I have also traveled to Costa Rica and done some collaborations with the Costa Rican circus
J: Oh, yeah.
T: And that has been really meaningful for me too to be able to like share um, kind of like my flavor of circus and represent you know, North American circus, and also to, to get to see what they do and also
to merge that on some different collaborations.
J: Nice. That’s super cool.
J: And, I’m going to ask a bit about the Costa Rican circus community you’ve been a part of. Is, um, when you say, like, represent North America. Do you do, is there, um, I know there is sort of like, uh, American, you know Everybody has the idea of American circus that’s like the ring circus, or like Trad circus in a way, you know.
J: Then there’s like the more European circus which is like, um, sometimes Trad but also sometimes more Contemporary, and much more, I don’t know, seems a bit more from the heart, you know.
J: And so, what would you say is the Costa Rican circus vibe?
T: Oh, okay, um. Well, I would say that Central America has a really strong contemporary dance theme.
T: And, theater as well. And, I think circus is like relatively young there. Um, so I think that in some ways, um, they feel – well, and you also have the traditional circus, um, you know, thing going on there too. They have tented circuses there that travel there from Mexico and other places so there’s
definitely that vibe. And, a lot of people would, I think, still associate circus with that kind of traditional format. But, then there is also kind of an up and coming kind of aerial dance scene and circus that is really influenced by contemporary dance and that is just more abstract and in some ways pretty dark too. But, always like very acrobatic, um, as well and super, super like intense, I would say. Yeah. Also a lot of heart. My experience working with, um, with like the aerial dance community which is mostly
based around a school called “Danzaire.”
J: Oh cool.
T: Um, it’s been like, yeah, just like a lot of heart and soul there too.
J: Nice. Sweet! Thank you.
On that note, we will end the first half of this interview! Tune in for Terry’s opinion on what is the most rewarding and most difficult thing about being a circus artist, what young people wanting to be circus artists should be doing, and other burning questions!
If you’d like to learn more about Terry, check out Acrobatic Conundrum’s website: http://www.acrobaticconundrum.com/
His Instagram: @thekidontherope
And his Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerryCrane00