Arts & Culture

Amazing aerial antics

It's no surprise these days that circus arts aren't limited to the circus. But if flying trapeze artists can be found in theaters with relative ease, it's still difficult to imagine them in The Brotherhood Lounge.

“When the bar is closed, I can hear comments when people walk by and read the poster,” said Brotherhood owner Pit Kwiecinski. “They say, ‘Trapeze? In The Brotherhood? Where?’”

The answer: right smack in the middle of the bar, where members of Tallhouse Arts Consortium have set up a rigging and perform on the first Wednesday of each month on trapeze, rope and fabric.

“I’ve done trapeze pieces where I could pick people’s noses with my toes,” said Wes Hauffe of the consortium. “They are so close. They’re right there. They have to move their heads out of the way sometimes.”

The artists, who perform for about an hour and a half, do mostly solo acts at the show. This month, they’ll begin performing at the Royal Lounge, too. The consortium has also done shows in theaters, but the bar setting is more immediate, Hauffe said.

“The energy is more palpable,” he said. “I’m interested in things that are alive and juicy, not things that are comfortably removed. We wanted to be in the middle of the bar. You can’t go to the bar and pretend we’re not there, and that’s our goal.”

“It takes a lot of people by surprise,” Kwiecinski said. “But it’s very well-received. It’s the busiest night we have.”

Performing regularly lets the artists keep working on their acts, Hauffe said.

“When musicians are performing all the time, they are constantly working on and reworking pieces,” he said. “We wanted to have a low-stress public gig where we could work pieces. It puts some pressure on us to finish things and not just hang out and practice.”

Each show features six acts, mostly solo pieces, including some by a guest artist from the Northwest.

“It’s an amazing show,” Kwiecinski said. “You’re transported. It feels in many ways like a Cirque du Soleil performance.”