Circus of the Mind

A Journey Towards the Boundaries of Consciousness

  • Shannon Collier with silk aerials

  • David Menes, contact juggler

“It’s not just a spectacle, but something that the audience is intimately involved in,” said Shannon Collier, one of the organizers of Atem, an event that will combine guided meditation, improvisational music and circus acts.

Once the public is entranced by meditations led by Yogi Albert Bissada, Collier, an aerialist, will perform along with acrobat Poncho Sandoval and contact juggler David Menes.

Collier said the idea is that the meditation will lead directly into the performances. “It’s not just a spectacle but something that the audience is intimately involved in,” she said. “So when the meditation travels into the circus and the audience opens their eyes, they’ve been prepared through this meditation, through these breathing exercises to then more fully connect with the circus acts.”

With live improvised music by beatboxer Jason Levine and “massage sonore,” Guillaume&Ina the meditative soundscapes will be set with all manners of instruments, ranging from violin to Tibetan bowls.

Levine said “It will be a mix of dynamic high energy and very calm low energy. Think of it as one long meditation that all takes place in one breath, parts of it are in your head and parts of it are in the real world.”

“Breath is the most fundamental way we can connect with our bodies and with other people,” Collier said. “It’s the thing we all share. It’s an energy force that is so powerful and is not used enough, so if we can connect in that way, I think it creates a whole other depth of experience for people watching and participating.”

The idea of Atem was conceived after taking part in guided meditation sessions with Bissada. “It was kind of my vision when I took his classes and had taken some Yoga where there was live music and just the power of the music with the meditation, it was such a profound experience so combining that with the movement, with the circus, it’s just taking it all to another level,” says Collier.

Atem will be this Friday, March 4th and Saturday, March 5th, 9:00 PM at Studio 314, 10 Ave Des Pins Ouest. Tickets are $10 must be reserved in advance by e-mail (

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 24, published March 7, 2011.

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