[ | DC Metro Theatre Arts]

Lauren Rile Smith, a Philadelphia poet and performer, founded Tangle Movement Arts in 2011.

She has trained trapeze and other circus arts at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts and many other places. As a circus instructor, she’s committed to creating a safe, fun environment that welcomes all people. Tangle’s newest show, Life Lines, is part of the 2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

When not on a trapeze, Lauren lives in West Philadelphia. She works at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania, and edits poetry for Cleaver Magazine.

Lauren Rile Smith. Photo courtesy Tangle Movement Arts.

Lauren Rile Smith. Photo courtesy Tangle Movement Arts.

Henrik Eger: When first did you realize that you were fascinated by acrobats and what did you do to get the necessary training?

Lauren Rile Smith: Like a lot of people, I grew up with depictions of circus acrobats in children’s books. My first real connection with aerial arts came in 2007 when I saw LAVA, the Brooklyn-based feminist dance troupe, perform trapeze as part of queer contemporary dance. I was instantly hooked.

A few years later, I had the chance to start training trapeze myself, and was inspired to start a Philly-based aerial dance theater company. I wanted to use the highly physical language of circus arts to tell stories about female bodies and queer relationships. We launched Tangle in the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival. I’m proud to still be working with largely the same ensemble — six years and twelve shows later.