Distinctive for breadth and synthesis of diverse performance modalities The Carpetbag Brigade creates versatile spectacle-based outdoor performances and intimate indoor self-devised performances. Acrobatic stilt dancing, butoh dance, contact improvisation, musical composition and physical theater form the basis of their aesthetic approach.
True pioneers at the art of acrobatic stilt dancing – The Carpetbag Brigade masters a unique theatrical language in the delicate overlap of theater, dance and circus. Rising with beauty, falling with grace and conjuring ephemeral magic with the movement and action of their powerful bodies, the performers emanate and pulse like the sea at twilight. Balancing intensely raw and precarious physical expression with sublime dramatic imagery, a Carpetbag Brigade performance fosters a sense of psychic intimacy, poetic dialogue, and mythic imagery indoors or outdoors and excels in a full spectrum of venues: proscenium theaters, soccer fields, parking lots, city parks, side streets, rock concerts or black boxes.
As the primary physical theater company in the United States significantly touring acrobatic stiltwork, Carpetbag has used the medium to create shows with an experimental aesthetic, intended for the large scale, in and outdoor, popular audiences of spectacle based theater. They have performed for over 250,000 people worldwide over the past six years. The company creates evening length stilt performances set to original music, which although built around a poetic storyline and dramatic scaffold contains no text; making the work accessible cross culturally.
Their unique stilt performances use theories and techniques of (what is called, in the United States) self-devised theater. The Carpetbag Brigade’s approach to creating movement, action, and montage can be traced to encountering the work of Eugenio Barba, who developed influential methods of composition and training for physical theater performers. Building on this foundation, the Carpetbag Brigade studied intensively with the internationally renowned acrobatic stilt pioneer, David Clarkson of Stalker Theater from Sydney, Australia. Adapting and evolving his forms the company has evolved acrobatic stilt work to include pioneering new partnering contact improvisation techniques, and applied modern dance, butoh dance and physical theater forms, creating socially reflective spectacle based drama performances.
By having a mission to present work in a diverse array of venues and environments The Carpetbag Brigade is an integrative cultural force that creates experiences for people of different cultural background to share common experiences in. The Carpetbag Brigade’s commitment to presenting work in both urban and rural environments has brought the company to such diverse venues as the Ford Theater Hollywood, LA; Hoopa Indian Reservation, CA; Universal Forum of the Cultures, Monterrey Mexico; InFringIng Dance Festival, BC, Canada; The Lincoln Center, New York City; Dell Arte’s Mad River Edgefest; San Francisco International Arts Festival, California; Santa Lucia Festival, Mexico; Yerba Buena Gardens, CA; Ko Fest, Amherst, MA; Dieppe Circus Festival, Moncton, Canada; Attention Festival & Sommerwerft Festival, Germany; The Burning Man Festival, Nevada; Edinburgh Fringe Festival & Merchant City Festival, Scotland; Sleepless Night, Miami Beach, Florida; The New Orleans Fringe Festival; Ana Desecetia Festival, Slovenia; Sacred Music Festival, Los Angeles; El Airo Puro & Iberoamericano Festival, Bogota, Colombia; Mirabilia Festival, Italy; Stockton International Riverside Festival, England.
The Carpetbag Brigade have toured extensively, creating site responsive stilt performances with diverse communities and schools in North America and in 2007 were in residence at the Universal Forum of the Cultures in Monterrey, Mexico. They have formed full-length cross-cultural collaboration stilt performances in Colombia (‘Dios de la Adrenalina’), Mexico (‘Puentes de Ciudades Invisibiles’) and Canada (‘The Robes of St Anne’). In 2013 Carpetbag Brigade hosted a company from Colombia for the Bi-Cultural Road Show tour with support from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Southern Exposure program, producing & performing 101 shows from California to NYC.
For five years the Carpetbag Brigade hosted the all ages festival Tsunami on the Sauare. They continue to build their community in their ‘Stiltasana’ workshops and producing the annual event ‘Global Stilt Congress’; a two week workshop event open to artists to learn fron leading stilting practitioners and continue to develop the stilting form.
By mixing the social mission of theater with high quality performance, The Carpetbag Brigade brings cutting edge, original work to audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and locales. In continuing to evolve the role of performance culture as an important aspect of global consciousness The Carpetbag Brigade is establishing itself as a unique cultural force in the United States and the world.