Fire breathing, swinging from silks, and belly dancing certainly aren’t as common as playing an instrument, swimming, basketball or ballet. But spinning from a suspended hoop or twirling torches isn’t that outrageous of an idea for most people, say Sarah Hahn and Satye Jvala, the two women behind Satarah Productions and this weekend’s Bloom Festival.
In its sixth year, Bloom showcases the aforementioned performance arts — along with sword swallowers, pole dancers, hoopers, jugglers and burlesque acts from across the U.S. and Canada — with three performances and instructional workshops throughout the weekend at the pop-up Shed Amphitheater. The new music venue is behind Station House along the light rail in NoDa.
The idea for the show started six years ago, with Hahn and Jvala planning a small recital for students at the since-closed Chop Shop.
But the club’s owner, Jay Tilyard, suggested they shoot for more. So the once-dance-heavy festival has broadened its size and scope over the past six years to include more circus arts; this is the first year contortionists and sideshow acts are part of the show.
The Chop Shop closed in 2015 and Bloom moved to the McColl Center, but this year’s Bloom: Festival of Awakening finds Satarah working with Tilyard again at his new outdoor pop-up events space, The Shed.
“We usually try to pick themes that are loose. You don’t want to restrict people creatively,” Jvala says. “ ‘Awakening’ can be any type of situation where you’ve felt that happen. There are definitely certain acts that are based on situations that are too heavy for kids.”
Two of the weekend’s shows — the ones that feature burlesque, pole dancing and other more adult-themed performances — are strictly for 21 and older. But a late-afternoon show on Saturday is kid-friendly.
“This year, there’s not a ton of difference,” Hahn says. “A couple acts have more adult content and themes. The costumes, song choices and content choices may be different as well.”
Whether you attend the early kids show or the later grownup-geared set, Bloom donates a portion of proceeds to the Behailu Academy, which empowers children through the arts and ties into the festival’s current theme of awakening and attainability by making the arts accessible to kids of all walks of life.
Jvala and Hahn, both of whom are Charlotte transplants, met while belly dancing at the Renaissance Festival. Hahn grew up as a competitive gymnast in tiny Monroe, La., before her father moved the family to Charlotte on her 18th birthday. Jvala grew up in Phoenix, where she discovered dance, and settled in Charlotte in 2007. They teach aerial, dance and fire arts, and part of the idea behind Bloom is to help people realize that anyone is capable of such feats.
“The most important thing for us is making it attainable for people, giving them a way to go about it where they don’t feel so overwhelmed,” Jvala explains.
“We definitely want this to be an accessible concept,” Hahn adds. “People see Cirque du Soliel and think, ‘I’d never be able to do any of those things.’ With the right training, you can. The majority of those things you can learn in Charlotte.”
Bloom: Festival of Awakening
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, adults only; 5 p.m. Saturday, family show.
Where: The Shed Amphitheater at Station House, 600 E. Sugar Creek Road.
Tickets: $20 for adults, $10 for children; $55 for all three shows.