Dinner and Performance

Loews Ventana Resort

Science of Consciousness Conference



Dinner and a Show

Thursday April 5th - Kiva Ballroom

tickets required  $75

6:30 pm


Author/Director: Stephanie Cortes


Exist is an astronomy-inspired circus performance that takes the audience on a journey through the cosmos exploring what it means to be alive and present in the “age of science.” The goal is to offer the audience a different perspective on their lives, their place in the Universe, and the vast time and distance scales in the cosmos. This will be achieved using media projections of the cosmos, dance choreography, spoken word, original soundtrack and innovative circus props. Our piece is centered around Carl Sagan’s famous quote, “We are star stuff,” meaning that our bodies are composed of chemical elements that originated inside stars. There is vast cosmic recycling that happens in the evolution of the Universe, from star birth to star death. Our planet, our
bodies, and everything that we own are here because of that process. We will explore the physical and emotional significance of what it means to be human in the Universe. Exist will utilize a portable projection screen, a short throw projector, and an original aerial apparatus as our main set design. The cast consists of four circus artists in custom LED suits (supplied by local company HulaLab) and one storyteller, performing live spoken word. The premier was held in Tucson in February 2018.

Stephanie Cortes will act as Director and has a Master’s in astronomy and five years of theater and circus production experience as one of the founding members of Cirque Roots. She is also currently teaching Astronomy at Pima Community College and Exist utilizes her two career paths, perfectly blending her knowledge of the physical world with her passion for performance art. Cirque Roots’ performers Zoe Anderson (BA in Film and TV production) will act as Producer and Brittany Briley (background in dance and production) will collaborate as Choreographer. Science is typically taught from a textbook with Powerpoint and often includes in-class activities utilizing the scientific method. It is unusual to think about science in an abstract way, as it is taught in a setting that discourages detachment from academia. When taught in a 101 astronomy class, human connection and emotion are often left out of the curriculum. Exist aims to teach basic astronomy concepts using creative movement and projections as a way to capture the audience’s attention and use science-based facts to lead the story. Teaching in a more artistic way can ease the
difficulty in understanding scientific ideas that matter, that are normally only covered in the classroom. By using performance art to present the big ideas of astronomy, we can create a place for people to wonder about what the concepts presented mean to them, not only through articles or graphs, but through powerful and accessible imagery and performance. The main goal of this project is to bridge the gap between art and science, in a way that integrates rather than isolates the two. Circus and dance performance often explore big ideas that are used as inspiration to connect with the audience. When we perform, we gift our emotion to the audience, and human connection is a standard goal in all art forms. It is less common to utilize hard science for the basis of an art piece with a goal to educate as well as develop deeper emotional meaning for our lives. Tucson is one of the largest hubs for astronomy in the US, and this is an excellent way to merge science and culture within our community. Cirque Roots has produced five successful works: three at the Tucson Museum of Art, one at the Valley of the Moon, and one at both Cirque Roots Studio and Zuzi Theater. We took our most recent production, Spectrum , on tour in Summer 2016 in the Southwestern US. Based on the theme “We are the light that we see in others”, this all-female stilt acrobatic performance used background visuals with an original score. Exist will build upon the success, skill, and creativity of Spectrum . Work sample:

Cirque Roots at Spin Summit performing a shortened version of the production - Spectrum .

Cirque Roots Productions & Studio is a grassroots artist collective that was founded in 2011

with a vision to inspire the community to create and play through movement and dance. The founders, Brittany Briley, Zoë Anderson, and Stephanie Cortes are highly educated in professions outside of the arts (nursing, film/marketing, physics & astronomy) which support their creative ability. The three owners have experience in production, direction, film, choreography, dance & movement, and empowering the community. Based in a 1910's adobe warehouse in downtown Tucson located near Dunbar Springs and Barrio Anita, Cirque Roots created a space for the community to engage in circus inspired arts and to co-create through conscious events and workshops.

The Cirque Roots performance crew has been performing collectively over the past six years and was nominated for a 2015 Lumies Award: Best Arts Organization. The performance company consists of roughly 25 artists with a core advanced team of about 10 artists. The trained skills of the company include stilt walking, stilt dancing, stilt acrobatics, partner acrobatics, aerial arts, hoop dance, prop manipulation, juggling, unicycling, fire dancing, MCing, clowning, and character work. Cirque Roots was recently awarded the New Works grant from The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona for their sixth production, “Exist: Messengers of the Cosmos.” In addition to producing their own work, Cirque Roots gets hired throughout the year for all different types of events, ranging from birthday parties to high-end corporate events to collaborating with other production companies in their works. Cirque Roots frequently collaborates with local artists to create the best possible experience for the audience.

link to Cirque Bios