The tale of how The Phantom Circus came to be is probably one best told over a frosty beverage in the watering hole of your choice. If you’d like to hear it, let us know. What follows is the truncated five-minute version:
Natalie Brown was a lifelong performer and creative living in New Orleans, working as an entertainment journalist, and rehabbing a back injury through tribal belly dance lessons when Hurricane Katrina blew ashore.
Evacuated and displaced in Columbia, South Carolina, Natalie did what she always did to work through things: she danced. Six months after the storm, Natalie formed Delirium Tribal Belly Dance Company. A professional circus company called Alternacirque formed on a lark under her direction a year later. When the small town rumor started whispering of a young lady belly dancer with an alternative circus performing regularly in a bar parking lot a block from where the confederate flag flew on the State House steps, curious denizens came running.
Natalie and Alternacirque were at the forefront of an arts and cultural renaissance in Columbia for the better part of a decade.
A ragtag crew evolved through street shows into full-length feature theater performances, high-profile collaborations, and high-end corporate work. Alternacirque raised money through Kickstarter to expand into aerial arts, and left an impression on the regional culture.
A special guest variety show proved such a smash hit, it recurred every January as the Festival of Doom: a multi-day, multi-show festival showcasing national belly dance, music, sideshow, circus arts and burlesque acts performing for sold out audiences.
Natalie worked closely with the South Carolina Arts Commission, leading panels at conferences, participating in the Artists Venture Artist as Entrepreneur program, and received an Artists Ventures grant for her work with the circus.
Natalie was a featured speaker at the THRIVE Arts Conference, TedxColumbia, and a keynote speaker and performer at Engenuity SC’s IGNITE! Conference.
She was also a tireless arts advocate, pushing for and helping to craft the city’s busking ordinance, and spearheading a Rally for the Arts Commission to restore state funding for the SCAC (it worked).
After 8 years, Alternacirque folded, and Natalie looked west. She moved to Boulder, Colorado to study with belly dance and aerial mentors and successfully auditioned into the prestigious Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance professional track training program: an elite circus school training program for aerialists, consisting of nine months of 30+ hours per week of intense and rigorous training.
Two years after the end of Alternacirque, and mere months after graduating from Pro Track, Natalie – with her tireless dedication and ardent desire to create – was ready to build her dream circus…
Natalie then joined forces with investor and business partner Jonathan Cover.
Jonathan recently returned to his hometown of Denver after providing contract services to the Armed Forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2015. His background includes operations management, multicultural management, project management, information technology, organizational behavior, and international business.
Jonathan’s background could be considering boring or drab – and that’s because it is. He is a bean counter, a details person, one of those who excels at being the cement that helps hold a group together, and a self described “academic screwball with professional tendencies”. He fancies himself a musician and writer, though we shall not lend credence to such tomfoolery.
The combination of creativity and advocacy along with strong and proven business acumen are what sets the Phantom Circus apart. We will bring your dreams to life.