Autistic Aerialist Pioneers Inclusion for Neurodiverse and Mobility-Challenged Individuals in Circus Arts - StageLync

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Autistic Aerialist Pioneers Inclusion for Neurodiverse and Mobility-Challenged Individuals in Circus Arts

This summer 22-year old Daniel Franzel will travel from his home in Orlando, Florida, to spend a few months as the Artist-in-Residence at Seattle’s School of  Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA).  The Artist-in-Residence program began in 2010 with a mix of local and international artists who collaboratively created and produced full-length shows during residencies at SANCA. Since that time, SANCA has hosted various artists in residence, including the Seattle-based IMPulse Collective, the nomadic foot-juggling Gentile Family, and the nationally renowned contemporary circus company Acrobatic Conundrum.

What makes this summer’s residency unique is the theme of inclusion. Daniel could be considered an underrepresented artist in the circus industry.  He’s a mixed race (Russian Jewish & African-American) acrobat with a disabling form of autism that limits his ability to converse. He appeared to also have a limited ability to focus, until he began performing tricks 20 ft above ground on the aerial silks!  A graduate of Orlando’s Magnolia High School Bridge’s Program, a magnet school for students with disabilities, Daniel will be accompanied by his manager & mom, Karen, an attorney; and his father Steven, a former diplomat with the United Nations who spent 20+ years working in Africa and Asia in agricultural development.

Stars collided as SANCA was in the process of including a neurodiversity component to its summer camp program, when Daniel was developing an aerial silks and acrobatic show designed to encourage those with disabilities to get involved in circus arts. Daniel will also be a SANCA performer and ambassador to a Japanese Cultural Exchange program this summer to show how much is possible with proper training and passion.

Daniel has trained in silks and trapeze for the past 11-years under veteran Ringling Circus & Disney performer Csaba Szilagyi.  Csaba’s patience and skill, combined with Daniel’s motivation have melded into a heartwarming story of success.  Learn more about SANCA’s programs.

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