Rainbow Militia Circus Puts Eighty Denver Performers in the Center Ring

Amber Blais of Rainbow Militia.
Amber Blais of Rainbow Militia. Martha Wirth
Circus performer Amber Blais has been busy since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Denver.

She's been scrounging job opportunities for out-of-work artists through a database she built, reading tarot cards online, and most recently, rallying 47 musicians to collaborate with 35 circus performers for virtual performances, through the Rainbow Militia's Rainbow Ruckus.

The online showcase will take place over Zoom on three different dates, and will be co-hosted by Blais and Rainbow Militia co-founder Staza Stone. Local bands involved include the Flobots, Chimney Choir, Retrofette, Lady Gang, El Javi and DeVotchKa member Tom Hagerman’s new project, Post Truth Serum; the musicians will perform with aerial dancers, contortionists, acrobats, fire dancers, magicians, jugglers and more.

Rainbow Militia, which has focused on immersive productions in recent months, is returning to its origins with this piece. "The very first show we produced as a company was a collaboration partnering local musicians and circus performers together in a live showcase," notes Blais, "so this type of show actually brings us back to our roots."

click to enlarge Amber Blais isn't just hanging out. - MARTHA WIRTH
Amber Blais isn't just hanging out.
Martha Wirth
The idea for Rainbow Ruckus came to Blais from her own interest in creating with others — even if she couldn't do that in person during the stay-at-home order. She reached out on Facebook to see if any musicians wanted to partner with her on an aerial dance piece, and responses flooded in from both musicians and circus performers hoping to team up, too. Soon, Rainbow Militia decided to make it a formal event, showcasing 85 Denver artists.

"A lot of artists right now are not only suffering financially, but mentally, due to a lack of creative outlets," explains Blais. "This was conceived of as both a way to raise a little bit of money for artists and for them to have an excuse to create. We have started getting completed submissions in and have been blown away by the creativity and talents of our performers; it's going to be a real treat for people to watch and a great way to support the local arts scene. All the proceeds we raise here will go directly back to them."

The performers will be working out of whatever spaces they have available: living rooms, back yards, front yards and alleys. 

"You'll get to peek into spots you don't really notice and see something magical happening," promises Blais. "All safely from your couch."

The Rainbow Ruckus will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on the next three Saturdays: April 18, April 25 and May 2. For more information, go to the Rainbow Militia website.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris