Zany Umbrella Circus Plans an Evening of Bohemian Folk Artistry for Bal Ingenieux

Vintage street theatre and whimsical circus kitsch will fuse with technology when the national touring Zany Umbrella Circus collaborates with legendary Cleveland DJ Rob Sherwood. “With Rob contributing sound,” Sota says, “I think we can provide really strong visuals.”

Ben Sota talks spiritedly in a rapid fire of ideas about Hawaiian culture and couture, “I’ve been thinking of a scene working with Hawaiian recordings, Hawaiian muumuus.” As the artistic director of Zany Umbrella Circus, Sota is plotting out loud for the night his troupe of bohemian acrobats invoke the underground arts culture of the early 1900s Kokoon Arts Club  for Ingenuity Cleveland’s Bal Ingenieux masquerade fundraiser.

His costume embellishment brainstorming may owe a small credit to his residence on the island where he studies for his doctorate in between coordinating performances for Zany Umbrella. “The history of Kokoon is really cool and I feel like there’s a big part that’s exotic,” Sota explains. “When I think about what is most modern and most exotic, I think Hawaiian. Most people have no idea how much of an arts and culture scene there is here.”

At Bal Ingenieux, vintage will fuse with technology when the national touring group, versed in the folk artistry of street theatre and whimsical circus kitsch, collaborates with legendary Cleveland DJ Rob Sherwood. While Sota explains these days the group usually performs shows based around a storyline, “eye candy” is how he describes what to expect from Zany Umbrella on May 4. “With Rob contributing sound,” he says, “I think we can provide really strong visuals.”

Although Sota says Zany Umbrella now normally bring their spectacle to stages with little chance for audience interaction, Bal Ingenieux will relive their early years touring across America and performing on the city streets. “A lot will be improv,” Sota says of the “ground-based circus” being created for the evening. “Circus acts will happen in the grand ballroom, but we’re bringing some masks to move through the space as well. If we see people open and generous with their energy we’ll take them into a private area.”

After Bal Ingenieux, Zany Umbrella has shows planned throughout the year at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a tour of New York City boroughs in partnership with the City Parks Foundation and overseas at the Childrens’ Museum of Jordan.

About Zany Umbrella Circus
Zany Umbrella Circus exists to build and strengthen communities through education and folk artistry– particularly puppetry, circus, music, storytelling, street theatre and visual arts.

More information at

About Ingenuity
Ingenuity’s mission is to ignite the creative spark where the arts, science, and technology intersect.  By animating Cleveland’s urban spaces with world-class, innovative experiences, Ingenuity provides a unique platform to explore the boundaries of art and technology.

To purchase tickets to Bal Ingenieux, IngenuityFest’s fundraiser on May 4, please visit