The Flying Wallendas Perform to Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”
Jazz Poetry 2011
On September 10th City of Asylum/Pittsburgh hosted its seventh annual Jazz Poetry Concert. Writers from Burma, Finland, Russia, and Palestine read to a packed theater, and music was performed by Oliver Lake and the jazz trio Tarbaby. Halfway through the concert, the audience was treated to a surprise wire-walking performance by The Flying Wallendas.
The Wallenda family has been performing circus acts for as far back as 1780 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1928 the troupe received acclaim for performing without a net in Madison Square Garden and has continued the tradition since then. There are eleven members of the current troupe; however three performed at the Jazz Poetry concert: Tino Wallenda, a sixth generation circus performer, and two of his children, Aurelia and Alessandro. Of their work, Tino Wallenda told Sampsonia Way, “We are performers at heart, and the show does go on, not because it’s a performance but because it’s life, and life does go on.”
While the trio performed, a recording of Salman Rushdie reading from his 2000 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet played. This reading was recorded at PEN America‘s annual PEN World Voices Festival. Oliver Lake and Tarbaby accompanied The Flying Wallendas with a freestyle jazz performance.