Zany Umbrella Circus Plans an Evening of Bohemian Folk Artistry for Bal Ingenieux

Vintage street theatre and whimsical circus kitsch will fuse with technology when the national touring Zany Umbrella Circus collaborates with legendary Cleveland DJ Rob Sherwood. “With Rob contributing sound,” Sota says, “I think we can provide really strong visuals.”

Ben Sota talks spiritedly in a rapid fire of ideas about Hawaiian culture and couture, “I’ve been thinking of a scene working with Hawaiian recordings, Hawaiian muumuus.” As the artistic director of Zany Umbrella Circus, Sota is plotting out loud for the night his troupe of bohemian acrobats invoke the underground arts culture of the early 1900s Kokoon Arts Club  for Ingenuity Cleveland’s Bal Ingenieux masquerade fundraiser.

His costume embellishment brainstorming may owe a small credit to his residence on the island where he studies for his doctorate in between coordinating performances for Zany Umbrella. “The history of Kokoon is really cool and I feel like there’s a big part that’s exotic,” Sota explains. “When I think about what is most modern and most exotic, I think Hawaiian. Most people have no idea how much of an arts and culture scene there is here.”

At Bal Ingenieux, vintage will fuse with technology when the national touring group, versed in the folk artistry of street theatre and whimsical circus kitsch, collaborates with legendary Cleveland DJ Rob Sherwood. While Sota explains these days the group usually performs shows based around a storyline, “eye candy” is how he describes what to expect from Zany Umbrella on May 4. “With Rob contributing sound,” he says, “I think we can provide really strong visuals.”

Although Sota says Zany Umbrella now normally bring their spectacle to stages with little chance for audience interaction, Bal Ingenieux will relive their early years touring across America and performing on the city streets. “A lot will be improv,” Sota says of the “ground-based circus” being created for the evening. “Circus acts will happen in the grand ballroom, but we’re bringing some masks to move through the space as well. If we see people open and generous with their energy we’ll take them into a private area.”

After Bal Ingenieux, Zany Umbrella has shows planned throughout the year at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a tour of New York City boroughs in partnership with the City Parks Foundation and overseas at the Childrens’ Museum of Jordan.

About Zany Umbrella Circus
Zany Umbrella Circus exists to build and strengthen communities through education and folk artistry– particularly puppetry, circus, music, storytelling, street theatre and visual arts.

More information at

About Ingenuity
Ingenuity’s mission is to ignite the creative spark where the arts, science, and technology intersect.  By animating Cleveland’s urban spaces with world-class, innovative experiences, Ingenuity provides a unique platform to explore the boundaries of art and technology.

To purchase tickets to Bal Ingenieux, IngenuityFest’s fundraiser on May 4, please visit


FRIDAY: PechaKucha Vol. 13 at IngenuityFest

PechaKucha Night returns with its 13th volume at IngenuityFest 2011 on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 7 p.m. Known for tailoring their speaker series to the event’s venue, this session’s presenters have a heavy focus on art but still include eclectic topics ranging from biking to upcycled fashion. PechaKucha Night Cleveland co-founder Michael Christoff explains more about how our chapter is unique to Cleveland and how PechaKucha continues to open doors to discuss art and technology within the city.

An international organization founded on the idea of sharing the ideas and experiences of the city’s most inventive thinkers, presenters are given 20 seconds to discuss 20 slides. “PechaKucha has been a platform to showcase just about anything, including arts and technology, by giving people an unscripted and uninfluenced 400 seconds of fame on stage to convey their ideas and passion,” explains Cristoff.

PechaKucha’s choices of venues for their presentations embraces the idea of rethinking unexplored spaces, much like IngenuityFest reflects through the use of the Detroit-Superior Bridge. “Because this city has such an amazing built environment and incredibly under-utilized building/public space stock, we really try to find creative ways to expose people to spaces they might not otherwise have a chance to experience,” says Christoff, “Some venues are a little more typical, and others are out of this world, but we try to make all interesting by curating a list of presenters that works for the space. “

While Christoff recognizes there will be plenty of artists in the crowd, he prides the PechaKucha project on the importance of maintaining diversity of presentation topics.  “A lot of the time artists get stuck in their own design communities, with little opportunity to break out into other creative communities,” he says. “What is great about the PechaKucha crowd is that because the topics covered at each event are so diverse, the crowd is equally diverse. PechaKucha is a platform and a place where all creative disciplines and thought provokers can come together to celebrate the art of sharing ideas.”

PechaKucha kicks off IngenuityFest on Friday night at The Ingenuity Stage. For more information on PechaKucha you can visit their website for Volume 13 here. Click here to view a recent IngenuityFest interview with past presenters Erin Huber and Ramon Rivas II on their experiences presenting at PechaKucha.

If you enjoy PechaKucha Night, please join us for our Saturday Speaker Series “Ingenuity Talks” including discussion topics ‘Everyone as an Artist?’ and ‘Interpreting the Bridge.’ For more information please click here.

BELOW: Complete list of presenters at PechaKucha Volume 13

01 -Williard “Woody” Melton – From Museums to Homes (Art Handler)
02- Michelle Ginther (Print Maker)
03- Chris Auberach-Brown: Smart Audience (Artist)
04- Brien Stancar: Origins, Inspirations, and Current Directions (Glass Artist)
05- Kevin Cronin: Cleveland Bikes (Bike Enthusiast)
06-Marin Woorbj: Show Your Hope (Art Traveling the World)
07- Garrett Weider (Graffiti/Mixed Media)
08- Alex Matsov: World Heritage Buildings (Architecture/Historian)
09- Christopher Lynn: SPACES: Bring us home to meet your parents (Art)
10- Anthony Buehrer: (Industrial Designer)
11- Oliver Barrett: (Illustration Artist)
12 – Sharie Renee: (Artist/UpCyling Fashion Accessories)
13- Dixon’s Violin: (Musician, Electric Violin)

PechaKucha will be held on September 16 at 7 p.m on The Ingenuity Stage.

Plan your weekend with our interactive schedule.

IngenuityFest is one of America’s largest festivals of art and technology, bringing a weekend-long celebration of  groundbreaking innovation to Cleveland.
Fri, Sept. 16: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Sat, Sept. 17: Noon – 1 a.m.
Sun, Sep. 18: Noon – 5 p.m.

Parking for Speakeasy

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Are you attending the Speakeasy 2.0 event and wondering how to get there and where to park?  Are you thinking about going, but are wondering if getting there is going to be a hassle?

Well, the good news is that parking is easy and plentiful and all summarized in a handy, printable, downloadable pdf file!

The easiest thing to do is use the valet parking which is complimentary  for folks attending the 6  – 9 PM party and $5 after 9PM.   There is also street parking around the bridge site as well.

See you Friday!

Speakeasy Ticket Giveaway at 'Tis Cleveland

Our friends at ‘Tis Cleveland are featuring a ticket giveaway to the Ingenuity Speakeasy 2.0

‘Tis Cleveland is giving away tickets to the Skyline After Party for those readers who comment on this post with what they think is our city’s greatest asset! We’ll vote on the best answer and select the winner this weekend. We also have some Ingenuity t-shirts to give away as well.

We think it’s important to rediscover, remember and regain an appreciation for what makes Cleveland so special to our communities after all that’s happened recently. We love our city and know that it is made up than much more than one man. WE MAKE CLEVELAND AMAZING!

‘thanks ’tis!  You can comment here:

Also, check (and vote for) out our entry at ‘Tis Cleveland’s event page!