Tana Karo started Acrobatica Infiniti, billed as the world’s first “nerd circus” back in the era of Gaper’s Block. It was 2015, and “nerd culture” was on the rise, as was the attention to circus arts. So she mashed them up, hoping to be “first in and best-dressed” with a high skill level show that would capture the hearts of nerds like herself. It’s been a few years since then, and Acrobatica Infiniti has become a noted name in the circus arts community of Chicago.
This year, we ran into the troupe flying high above the con crowds at C2E2, and even got a chance to interview Tana about what the troupe was like and what they were doing. This past weekend, we headed over to Uptown Underground to catch them in a full performance titled “Not All Heroes Wear Pants” in the space they have made a monthly home, and they did not disappoint.
What’s great about Acrobatica Infiniti is that they’re not just cashing in on a trend or emulating something from the outside. As they put it, “It’s comedy. It’s spectacle. It’s fandom in the extreme.” What could be nothing more than a tagline holds true here, and elevates the show from a simple “wow, that’s impressive” to a more familial feeling intimate night of truly towering talent.
Uptown Underground’s classic cabaret setting seemed perfect for this After Dark 21+ event and was a fittingly ostentatious background for the spectacle we’d observe. Kicking things off for the night was a Jareth inspired juggler, Dharmesh Bhagat, who nailed the Bowie vibe and kept us entranced. Shortly thereafter, we’d run into founder of Raks Geek, Dawn Xiana Moon, with an energetic fire dancing act that combined two of the most mysterious people from my childhood, Carmen Sandiego and Waldo. Moon is an impressive, fierce dancer who always seems to be in perfect form from fingertips to toe points.
We marvelled at the aerials of an incredibly talented Sally Sach’s Deadpool who was able to channel the cocky nonchalance and silly humor of the character and mesh it with incredible athleticism and a flowing grace, and laughed along with the incredibly effervescent Shirley Blazen, who served as the show’s emcee. Blazen did a great job keeping the energy up and the crowd entertained, and her Yoshi’s Island burlesque certainly embodied Acrobatica Infiniti’s comedy/spectacle mantra.
Our favorite act of the night was an amazing Malificent hoop piece by performer Perkulator. Perkulator was every bit the sexy villain, fully in control, every move entrancing and studied. She glided across the stage with a sinister ease, giving as good a performance theatrically as athletically. It was pin drop quiet through the house as she set her hoops spinning at her feet, fingertips and waist as if she was simply taking a stroll.
Next up? The incredible Aqua-Woman, portrayed by Patti Zikmund, equipped with trident and truly badass pole art mastery, had us thinking that was the way it always should have been. And the villainy continued, too, with the obvious chemistry of Linnea Ridolfi as Poison Ivy and Natalie Abell’s Harley Quinn. Though I have to admit general indifference to people cosplaying as these two merry murderesses, this portrayal was full of fireworks between the performers and acrobatics that more than changed my mind.
This was my first introduction to Acrobatica Infiniti outside the busy show floor of C2E2, and while I had good feelings going into it I still wasn’t quite sure to expect. What I got was more than I bargained for in terms of true variety in acts, with everything from hoops, straps, belly dance and burlesque to duo acrobatics, as well as amazing performers and a warm community that surrounds them, and though this performance marked the end of their regular season at Uptown Underground, I will look forward to their return their when summer’s over, and hope to catch them in special performances elsewhere, like their upcoming jaunt to Indianapolis’ tabletop gaming con extraordinaire, GenCon, this August. If you’d like more information about Acrobatica Infiniti and where to catch these talented performers, check out their Facebook page and website.