The New York Giants’ summer camp may not be returning to the Capital Region this summer, but Proctors CEO Philip Morris is convinced that other talented and gifted athletes like Angelica Bongiovonni will help fill the void quite nicely.
Cirque Eloize, a contemporary circus troupe based in Montreal, will make Schenectady its home for three weeks during the summer. The group, founded in 1993 by Jeannot Painchaud, Daniel Cyr and Julie Hamelin, will perform “Cirkopolis,” a North American premiere from Aug. 7-24. The performers also will become the main component of Proctors’ School of Performing Arts for three weeks in August. Painchaud joined Morris at Proctors on Tuesday for a news conference announcing the five-year partnership. Included in the news conference was a dance performance by Bongiovonni, a silver medalist at the 2013 Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain held recently in Paris.
“With a three-week run and more than 60,000 seats available, Schenectady will be the place to be in August,” said Morris. “This is the largest commitment we have planned for the coming years, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the team of Cirque Eloize. There’s a lot to do in the summer in the Capital Region, but this will help make Schenectady a destination. It’s possible people in this community won’t like the circus, but I don’t think so. We are going to make this work.”
Cirque Eloize has been at Proctors six times previously from 2002 to 2009, but never for an extended stay.
“This isn’t about just an event,” said Morris. “It’s one of the most important cultural announcements we’ve ever made, short of the announcement about our expansion and what we wanted to do with this place. That provided a doorway to do things like this.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy was at the event, along with members of the state Assembly, Pat Fahy, D-Delmar, Phil Steck, D-Colonie, Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Patricia Fahey, D-Albany. Also there were Senate members Betty Little, R-Glens Falls, and Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg. Cora Schroeter, standing in for U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, also attended.
“We’re very fortunate to have Philip Morris and his team at Proctors, because it’s not just one announcement like this that makes a difference, it’s the cumulative effect,” said McCarthy. “I can remember years ago talking about Proctors having events 30 or 40 times a year. Now, it’s up to 1,700 events. There’s always something going on, and that just adds to the level of excitement the community feels about the place. It used to be a nice little venue. Now, it’s clearly a recognized arts and entertainment venue throughout the whole country.”
Bongiovonni’s performance made a believer out of Tkaczyk.
“I have not seen one of their shows, but she was just spectacular,” said Tkaczyk. “I wanted to be here to support the arts and to support Proctors. Things are happening here that impact the whole Capital Region, and to think we’re going to have that kind of excitement, a show of that caliber, here in the summer is going to be awesome.”
“That girl was amazing, and, in comparison to Albany, I’m very impressed by what seems to be going on in Schenectady,” said Steck. “I have to say the city seems to be moving forward and working together as a team, and you need that to succeed with projects like this.”
“Cirkopolis” will be Cirque Eloize’s ninth original production. The troupe has presented more than 3,500 performances in more than 300 cities and 35 countries.
“We are about acrobatic arts and dance, and we are very happy to have Schenectady as a summer home this year,” said Painchaud, who serves as the troupe’s president and artistic director. “The idea of being in one place for the whole summer, well, we did it once a while ago, but this is the first time we’re doing it with a real strong partnership and with the summer camp. We’re looking forward to it very much.”
Cirque Eloize toured with “Cirkopolis” in Europe last year and will open in Montreal this September after its Schenectady run. According to the troupe’s website, the show, co-directed by Painchaud and Dave St-Pierre, combines “the worlds of circus, dance and theatre,” and “features twelve acrobats and multidisciplinary artists who rebel against monotony, reinvent themselves and challenge the limits of the factory-city, Cirkopolis.”
Tickets are now on sale to Proctors’ subscribers and will be available to the general public March. 7.