Holidaze Wishes: Local artist Ashley Zimmerman talks about the seasonal Cirque Dreams show

A whimsical, Broadway-style musical infused with contemporary circus artistry, CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE comes to Philadelphia this year on its annual tour. This year’s version of the seasonal favorite features Ashley Zimmerman, who called the area home for many years. She talks to Phindie about her life in the circus.

[Miller Theater, 250 S. Broad Street] December 26-31, 2023; cirquedreams.com

Debra Danese: Where did you get your early dance training?

Ashley Zimmerman: I originally began dancing at my local YMCA. From there, I trained at Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts in Berwyn, PA until I was eighteen. I then went on to get a BA in Dance from Point Park University. 

DD: What made you shift from dance to circus arts?

AZ: I was feeling creatively unfulfilled with my dance practice and was searching for something new to spark my interest. I was exposed to the circus arts while working on a cruise ship and thought that aerial would be a fun challenge! I started by taking aerial hoop classes while also pursuing a career in dance. During the pandemic, I decided that circus was more fulfilling for me, and I completely switched my creative and training focus from dance to aerial. 

DD: Which aerial arts do you perform in Cirque Dreams Holidaze?

AZ: I perform dance trapeze in the show, which consists of a horizontal bar hung from a single point by two vertical ropes attached to each side of the bar. My act involves a lot of creating and transitioning through shapes while spinning. 

DD: How do you maintain your skills while on tour?

AZ: I cross train at the gym 4-5 times a week, as well as make sure I practice a few skills on my apparatus before the shows. This tour is a whirlwind so I also make sure I get plenty of rest and sleep!

DD: How would you describe the show to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

AZ: Cirque Dreams Holidaze is a loose reimagining of the classic Nutcracker story using Broadway-style production infused with contemporary circus arts. Guests will witness dazzling choreography, incredible vocalists, and awe-inspiring acts that include soaring aerial feats, a hair-hanging artist, acrobatics, skippers, jugglers and more. The show is visually stunning and fun for the whole family!

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