Global Stilt Congress 2016

September 10 – 24, 2016 

Global Stilt Congress is an annual gathering hosted by The Carpetbag Brigade annually at Arcosanti Arizona. It serves as an arena for stilt-oriented performers and practitioners to come together, exchange skills, develop craft, and strengthen our stilt community and network. During Global Stilt Congress invited teachers and directors share their techniques, compositional strategies and life experiences through classes, lectures, and a culminating site specific performance project.

Global Stilt Congress is two weeks in length. The 1st week focuses on sharing techniques and the 2nd week focuses on a creative process resulting in a site-responsive performance at Arcosanti.


September 11 – 12

For Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels
(Pre-requisite: stilt walk unaided)

This year Global Stilt Congress opens with a two-day acrostilt intensive taught by The Carpetbag Brigade. The rudiments of our acrostilt vocabulary will be shared along three track lines: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. We are opening this year’s Global Stilt Congress with foundational classes in the fundamentals of the form. The acrostilt intensive will begin each day with a short all group warm up. The three classes in each level will happen on both days with an additional class each day in object manipulation on stilts with Chase Archer and Chok Er.

The Beginner level is for stilters with minimal or no previous acrostilt experience and will initiate entry points with the following vocabulary. There will be a class each day in: Ups & Downs,  Acrostilt DNA, and Stilt Contact Basics.

The Intermediate level is for stilters with previous experiences in acrostilts who are seeking to develop their mastery of the vocabulary and engage the practice at a higher level of precision and confidence, Departure points for classes each day include:  Forms for Level Changes, Contact Tables, Precision in Flow

The Advanced level is for acrostilt practitioners who have a proficient mastery of the acrostilt vocabulary and can successfully engage the pop-up, slide fall and dropback.  Each day classes will orbit between refinement practice and exploratory lab: Lifts, Hybrids and Open Research.

Class Definitions:

Ups & Downs – The basic movement needed to transition levels from standing to ground using partners. Moves include lunge down, basket catch, head/handstand flips, lunge pulls, rollups and other floor to standing combinations in partner.

Acrostilt DNA – An introduction to the essential core moves for the body in acrostilts. Preparatory exercises for for inversions, downward stiltdog, kickover and developing strength and balance on the ground with stilts.

Stilt Contact Basics – An introduction to the fusion of stiltwalking and contact improvisation featuring Carpetbag Brigade’s decade long research in still point exercises, simple lifts, sculpture forming and dynamic weight sharing

Level Changes – This Intermediate class builds on the Ups & Downs class and works on refining nuances in body composition for increased efficiency in execution. Additional vocabulary includes kickups, candlesticks, dropbacks and slide falls.

Contact Tables – Building on the stilt contact basics, this intermediate class explores the variety of transitions and dynamic sculptural possibilities in and out of tabling. Principles of contact improvisation are applied to the acrostilt vocabulary to explore expressions in level transition.

Precision in Flow – After learning forms how does one begin to use them effectively?  How does one partner and maintain energy and presence outward? Precision in Flow looks at the principles beneath the forms so that execution is strong and alive.

Lifts – This advanced class goes through the vocabulary of TCB’s signature lifts, the jitney, the venzuelan, the T – Lift, starfish, credit card, fishline and progresses into unknown territory. Participants should be prepared to base and fly.  NOTE – This class is open to facilitation from the Global Stilt Congress participants who are interested in sharing their lifting research

Hybrids – Hybrids takes familiar forms from the beginning and intermediate levels and develops new possibilities and approaches. Using splicing, accumulation and the impossible we will evolve the vocabulary of the possible from the known.  

Laboratory – This is the petri dish of Global Stilt Congress, a space to explore ideas and possibilities and try impossible ideas. We will break into small groups, look for the boundaries of the form and reach for the other side, then return and share the results of our discoveries.

September 13 – 16

Afro Caribbean Dance / Aerial / Contemporary Dance Axis Syllabus Inspired / Butoh / Choral Song
(Pre-requisite: Acrobatic Stilt Intensive)

During Global Stilt Congress Technique Week teachers share their research with a particular field of stilt techniques. This year five tracks of stilt fusion technique will be taught: Aerial Stilts, Afro-Caribbean Stilts, Butoh Stilts, Axis-Syllabus Inspired Stilts and Choral Song stilts. Technique Week cultivates seminal research resulting in raw scenic material for participants to continue exploration in post GSC. It also provides the basis of the material to be applied in Composition Week for the presentation of The Legislation at the GSC Fuse Festival.

Afro Caribbean Stilts – Adrian Young of Touchdasky from Trinidad & Tobago is not able to come to Global Stilt Congress due to USCIS bureaucracy not allowing him to apply for a visa while he is applying for a green card. It is unfortunate and we hope to work with him in the future. In his stead Nadia Hagen will be teaching Afro Brazilian Samba Stilting and Parade Styles. We are excited to partake in Nadia’s work and experience what she will offer Global Stilt Congress this year.

Nadia Hagen has been stilting for over 20 years. As Artistic Director for Flam Chen and the All Souls Procession she choreographs stilt dance and parades informed by Afro-brazilian and Orixa traditions. Samba is the national dance of Brazil, joyous, celebratory and deeply rooted in the animist religion of Candomble. It connects us to the primal energies of the natural world.
We will learn formal parade choreography with attention to Group alignment, spacing and pace, drawing form Ijexa – a graceful dance dedicated to the water goddesses Yemaya and Oxun and a fast paced, sexy Samba-Afro.


Aerial Stilts – Alessandra Ogren of Wise Fool will be back at GSC. In the workshop will look at stilts as extensions of our lines in aerial work. Spinning, swinging, and flying, we will explore the multitude of ways that stilts can leave the ground. We will work partnering both on and off stilts, using aerial apparatus to take choreography into the air. For aerialists this is a chance to see how stilts can add to your lines and extensions, and how the length and weight of your stilts can create more challenges and opportunities for your aerial work.. For stilt walkers, this is a chance to take your stilt work into a new dimension. How can using an aerial apparatus allow for more creative movement with your stilts.

Contemporary Dance Axis Syllabus Inspired Stilts -What can a body do? What can a body do with stilts on?  Considering stilts as an extension of anatomy, guided by Kelly Keenan, a  Montreal contemporary dance artist, anatomy geek, who was a predominant teacher of the Axis Syllabus for 10 years, these sessions aim to address the question of What can a body do with stilts on with great thrill, safety and nuance? Dancing alone, together and really together (in acrobatic stilt vocabulary), we will work on developing and practicing dances nourishing safety, flow, amplitude and thrill.

Butoh Stilts – We are happy to announce that Nathan Montgomery, founder of Syzygy Butoh in Colorado and a former student of Yoshito Ohno and Diego Pinon will be teaching Butoh Stilts. Nathan Montgomery also worked with Carpetbag Brigade many years ago and was one of the original crew that learned the acrostilt vocabulary directly from David Clarkson.

Nathan Montgomery is the founder and director of Syzygy Butoh. He creates dance to feed that which is wild and holy in life. For him dance is food for all that keeps the world alive… a way to re-plant the ground between oneself and the world with living grasses upon which the things of the world can dance, not as slaves to an empirical goal but as the free and wild song beings that they are. Nathan is also the founder and director of the Boulder International Butoh Festival.

Call & Response Choral Stilts – We are adding voice & stilts to this year’s palette of classes at Global Stilt Congress and bringing in Nick Slie from Mondo Bizarro to share his songwork investigating the dynamic possibilities of the singing voice. Drawing upon call and response traditions from the Deep South and beyond, we’ll explore how to create a call & response stilt choir. The work will begin with an awakening of the physical presence and move into explorations of harmony, drone and the role the eyes play in the energy of the song. This workshop is designed for all levels of vocal proficiency from novice to professional.

September 19 – 24

Craft the Legislation! The Global Stilt Congress Performance offering for the FUSE Festival!

(Pre-requisite: Acrobatic stilt & Technique Intensive)

Directed by Jay Ruby and facilitated by Carpetbag Brigade and Global Stilt Congress Technique Week mentors. The ideas initiated during Technique Week are expanded and refined during the first three days, then placed into the performance collage that is performed for “The Legislation” to conclude Global Stilt Congress and the FUSE festival.  This year each participant will concentrate on two of four tracks (Aerial / Butoh / Axis Syllabus Inspired / Contact) for the first three days of the second week to mature the material before its placement in the performance collage. Elements of Afro-Caribbean Stilts and Choral Song will also be included. Composition week is where we put it all together and create a site-responsive performance on the grounds of Arcosanti.

September 17 & 24

Festival Uniting Spectacle + Ensemble. The FUSE Festival encompasses the public performance events of the Global Stilt Congress. On two of the GSC weekends performances will be presented to the general public.

September 17th – ‘Loup Garou’ performed by Nick Slie in conjunction with Arcosanti’s Italian Night!

September 24th – ‘The Equinox Legislation’ from Global Stilt Congress!

For more information and to buy tickets