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Seattle Weekender: Bike to work, Seattle’s circus children and banned ballets

A bike rider checks messages while at a street corner. Credit: user Mo Riza/Wikimedia Commons

F5 Bike to Work day

“Things look different from the seat of a bike carrying a sleeping bag with a cold beer tucked inside,” says bicycle rider and writer Jim Malusa. This Friday find out how things look from the seat of a bike carrying a briefcase with a laptop and a sack lunch tucked inside —it’s bike to work day!

If you get on a bike one day this Bike Month, today should be it. Last year drew an estimated 20,000 participants, so there’s no way you’ll be riding alone, and Cascade Bicycle Club is organizing commute stations across the city and the region offering free snacks, sweet bike swag, maps, and bike maintenance checks. Good news for those separated from their workplace by a massive distance, a massive hill, or both: Metro is offering free bus fare to all passengers loading a bike onto the bus. Perhaps most thrilling of all, the event is your chance to ride alongside Mayor “McSchwinn,” in one of the shortest morning commutes ever, from KEXP radio station to the Bike to Work Day Rally at City Hall, where Cascade Bicycle Club is expecting to make "a special announcement."

An after-work bike block party will kick (pedal?) off in Ballard at 4 with live music, bike art, refreshments, a bike fashion show (turns out it doesn't have to be an oxymoron) and an appearance from Kidical Mass, which is like Critical Mass for the tricycling community. In the words of H.G. Wells, “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” (Provided that the adult is wearing a helmet.) Seize the future, seize your handlebars, and take to the road!

If you go: F5 Bike to Work Day, your morning commute, Friday May 18, free with bike.

SANCA Annual Spring Showcase

Circus school is an option that probably didn’t exist for you as a kid unless you grew up somewhere near Paris or Moscow. But in a Georgetown warehouse in 2004, Seattle’s first circus school opened its doors “with a tightrope, a rolling globe, a mini tramp, a trapeze dangling over a trampoline, a few mats and five students.” Eight years later, the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) sees over 1,000 students, has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarship money, and is home to three student performance companies.

This weekend, their talents will be on display at SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase, and trust me, you’ll want to catch these performers now so that in several years when you’re standing in line paying upwards of $50 to see them at Cirque du Soleil you can sigh and say with hometown pride, “I saw them when…” The lineup includes juggling, slackline, tightwire, aerial hoop, tissu, solo, duo, and triple trapeze acts, Chinese pole, rolling globe, unicycling, acrobatics and clowning. Many of the artists have already performed around the region and at the Moisture Festival, including 10-year-old aerialist and contortionist Saffi Watson, who currently stars in In Tents at Teatro Zinzanni. A special message for parents: sometimes the only way to keep your kids from running off to join the circus is to bring them there yourselves.

If you go: SANCA Annual Spring Showcase, School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, 674 S. Orcas St., Saturday May 19-Sunday May 20, $14-$19

Eden at the Seattle International Film Festival

Sure it's a bit tired, but Megan Griffiths is living proof that the phrase, "Third time's the charm" still has some punch. Griffiths, who is one of Seattle's most promising young film talents, premiered her last film, The Off Hours, at Sundance and won an award for best director at the  2011 Ourense Film Festival. This time around the locally-filmed Eden premiered at SXSW, winning the audience award AND  the Chicken & Egg Emergent Director Award. (OK, so her second time around she didn't do so poorly either.) 

Eden is the story of Hyun Jae, a young woman who is kidnapped and taken to Vegas where she is indoctrinated as a sex slave and held for more than two years. The most interesting part of Griffith's work though is Eden's (as she is renamed by her captors) rise within the seedy underworld of sex trafficking; a move which she makes only by befriending her captors and betraying her fellow captives. According to the SIFF guide, this is where  "Griffiths confirms her promise as an artist and solidifies her place as one of the most exciting new voices in filmmaking." Before you go, read Crosscut's recent piece about Seattle's indie film community, which is quickly gaining recognition for as a close-knit hotbed of talent. For the love of all that is local and cinephilic, go!

If you go: Eden, various times and theaters. See SIFF schedule for details.

Miraculous Mandarin 

With a name like Donald Byrd, you're bound to do great things. Oh, the places you'll go! But it never hurts to take advantage of Dr. Suess' wealth of knowledge and advice; he's got a little something for all of us. Even the famed Seattle choreographer and head of Spectrum Dance Theater. "Just never forget to be dexterous and deft," Suess would say. "And never mix up your right foot with your left."  

Byrd's Miraculous Mandarin, presented this weekend in Seattle's International District, proves him deft indeed. The piece is a reworking of a Bartok ballet repeatedly banned for its sexual content. In Byrd's telling it is a " twisted fable of an outsider’s tragic fate at the hands of a band of drug addicted thugs and their seductive moll."  The piece premiered in 2006 at the Moore Theatre, but this time around it will be staged in the windows of the International District's historic Bush Hotel, giving the audience — seated in Hing Hay Park — a uniquely voyeuristic dance theater experience. Needless to say, this isn't one for the kiddies. But it is free. So splurge on a sitter and pack a sweater, because Byrd's dancers are just as dexterous and deft as his choreography.

If you go: Miraculous Mandarin, Hing Hay Park, May 17 -19 and 24-26, 8:15 pm, free. More info. 

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