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San Francisco Magazine
April, 2007

7:19 P.M.

Herbie Hatman, a sideshow artist with Velocity Circus, offers live, edible worms to guests at Teatro Zinzanni during New Leaf's Spring Gala.


Herbie Hatman with worms



San Francisco Magazine
February, 2007

7:51 P.M.

Hostess Jillian Manus Salzman (in vintage Chanel) plays with the help at her cancer benefit, Not shown; the ice replica of Michelangelo's David, complete with oversized penis.


Jillian Manus Salzman with David


California College of the Arts
Fall, 2007

Gregangelo Herrera

by Lindsey Westbrook

Walking through Gregangelo Herrera’s front door is a little like stepping through Alice’s looking glass. From the Solstice Room to the Eclipse Room to the Midnight Hall, the whole thing is decorated down to the smallest detail in Winchester Mystery House–meets–Ali Baba style. Like the productions he puts on with his arts and entertainment troupe, Gregangelo and Velocity Circus, there’s some history there, as well as some fine art, some fantasy, and some pure, unadulterated ambition to entertain…



Gregangelo Herrera, Performance as an Illuminated Soul Seeker, 2006



San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, May 18, 2005

— its founder is a whirling dervish on and offstage!

by Marianne Costantinou

In a city known for its characters, top honors must be bestowed on Gregangelo Herrera, the frenetic, obsessive founder and artistic director of Velocity Circus and mastermind of what can safely be called the most unusual house in the city, if not the universe. Picture Ancient Egypt meets Arabian Nights meets Dr. Seuss meets Austin Powers, complete with life-size sarcophagi, a mosaic wall of the solar system and psychedelic secret passageways. The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau actually sends visiting journalists and other very important people to the house in Balboa Terrace when they’re looking for one of those “Only in San Francisco” experiences, and it’s to be featured this summer on cable TV in House & Garden’s new “Offbeat America” road show.

Gregangelo, who goes by his first name, claims there is a perfectly logical explanation, a method to the madness, so to speak: The house is a storyboard for his circus productions, and its creation is a way to keep the artists and technical crew in his troupe busy (and paid) when not in performance.

“I live my art through and through in everything I do,” he says. “I think of the house as a theatrical stage, and each room is a show.”
But, hey, just because he lives in a fantasy house he considers a theatrical stage is no reason to call him eccentric. He can’t understand why people keep calling him that.

“ I don't think I'm eccentric,” he says. “I think I'm completely sane.”
As he utters this denial for probably the zillionth time in his 38 years, Jeffrey Ferns, a man who has lived and worked with Gregangelo for almost a dozen years, rolls his eyes and mouths: “He’s a character.”
Among Gregangelo’s many talents are the eyes in the back of his head.

“I guess I could be called a character, yes,” he says with a deep sigh. "I've been blessed with being uninhibited.

" I am who I am. I'm me.''

These days, Gregangelo is himself in overdrive. After nearly a decade of a very successful business putting on private circus shows for nonprofit fund-raisers and corporate galas around the world, his Velocity Circus is going public in San Francisco for the first time. Next week, May 27 to 29, his troupe will be performing "Heliosphere Jr." in five shows at the Yerba Buena Center. It's crunch time.

Not that Gregangelo could possibly work any harder. He works on his shows seven days a week, every day of the year except on Halloween, when he and Ferns play host to the neighborhood's children.

A third-generation San Franciscan of Lebanese and Mexican descent, Gregangelo has been obsessed with art and performance ever since he was a kid growing up in Chinatown and Diamond Heights. It is a work ethic he says he learned from his mom, a single mother of four.

" I always knew I would be an 'artist,' whatever that meant,'' says Gregangelo, who in any given show will sing, dance, play piano and drums, perform aerial and rope tricks, all while simultaneously directing the show. When not performing or directing, he creates the show from scratch, from the set design, obviously, to the characters, the lighting, the special effects and the costumes. Some of the costumes are so bejeweled and feathered that they often take months to sew.

Gregangelo's professional career began in high school, when he began working in an ethnic dance group while a student at St. Ignatius and later at the California College of Arts & Crafts, from which he graduated in 1989. It was during his student days that he created a character for which, he says, he's known in the circus business far and wide. He plays a whirling dervish, an ancient character who spins around in circles. Gregangelo's claim to fame is that he can spin at breakneck speed for five minutes without getting dizzy.

Like his favorite stage persona, Gregangelo moves at dizzying speeds, but spin in circles he doesn't. He chose the name Velocity for his circus because he believes in moving fast in a forward direction. Whatever his project, it always has to do with work — not that he thinks of it as work. “I like to create,'' he says. "I just do what I want to do — and with velocity.''

He has little use for the past and has a hard time remembering dates and events. Ferns, 39, couldn't be more different. When he's not handling some of the business details for the circus, Ferns writes memoirs, mostly about his Yaqui Indian heritage and growing up in Arizona. He is calm to Gregangelo's energy. While Gregangelo is up to 3 or 4 most mornings concocting the next show or obsessing about a misplaced rhinestone on a costume, Ferns has already been asleep for hours, usually since 10 p.m. Gregangelo can't sleep more than a few hours a day. Ferns needs not only his eight hours, but could often use a nap, especially when he's been sucked into Gregangelo's "vortex."
Ferns says knows there's trouble brewing when his partner suddenly becomes still, cups his chin and gets this glassy look in his eye.

“Oh, hell, here we go again,'' Ferns thinks to himself.
The other night, both men were in a rented warehouse in West Oakland, where the troupe rehearses. Gregangelo was helping the Mongolian contortionists and throat singer go through their act, and supervised the girls in roller skates who will be in fiber-optic costumes on a stage swathed in black light. Then he donned a leotard and climbed a rope for the aerial hoop act.
If the show next week at Yerba Buena is a success, the men plan to begin a permanent circus theater in San Francisco. After that, who knows? With Gregangelo, there's no predicting.
" I wonder,'' Ferns says fondly but with a touch of fear in his voice as his partner climbed ever higher toward the sky, "what's going to come out of his head next?"

Gregangelo playing in the “Orange Room”

Opening a kitchen cabinet painting

Gregangelo in front of ‘‘Velocity Circus” painting by his long term artist,
Alison Johnson


Genesis Magazine
Winter 2006/2007


Gregangelo Herrera Spins Tales Through Velocity Circus

by Paul Totah

For some, life imitates art. For Gregangelo Herrera ’84, his home and his business imitate his art. For all of his adult life, Gregangelo has
made his living as a Whirling Dervish, performing a spinning dance that tells the story of the creation of the universe and all of the spiral galaxies and spinning planets. Walk inside his home and you’ll soon find yourself in a different kind of vortex —one that spins itself into 22 rooms that nearly defy description. The rooms lead you, like a spiral, to the still heart of his house where you’ll find his pyramid bedroom decorated with stars, galaxies and luminescent strings. Sit there, and you feel as if you’re in the eye of a hurricane.

Other rooms depict different times of day. His breakfast room is done in dawn themes, and one bedroom, with its green walls and sun mural, depicts the green flash of sunset. The real magic starts upstairs, past a secret entryway and through a “spinning vortex,” where each triangular room holds the works of a variety of artists, set designers and costumers, each of whom work for Gregangelo’s company.

Several national networks have already featured his house, including the Discovery Channel, Bravo and HGTV. “I’ve had people from Brazil tell me they saw my house on TV there,” said Gregangelo. His house is a regular tour-stop for the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will send journalists and travel writers to Herrera’s home to give them a taste of the city.

Gregangelo grew up in that home and eventually bought it from his mother, “who made me pay full market price,” he noted
with a laugh. Herrera’s success as a businessman as well as an artist is rooted in his philosophy “to follow your dream with passion, say yes, and give back to the community around you.” He is the founder and artistic director of Gregangelo & Velocity Arts and Entertainment and of the Velocity Circus — a loose confederation of 275 performers whom Herrera calls upon for public and corporate shows and private parties. His clients have included PeopleSoft, Univision, Warner Brothers, Starbucks and numerous other international companies and non-profits.

Herrera began his career in show business while a student at SI, acting in plays, working in stage crew and performing after school with the Aswan Dancers, — a Mediterranean troupe. Herrera — who describes himself as half Mexican, half Lebanese and all San Franciscan — learned that the group needed Whirling Dervishes. “I was still young enough that I was whirling for fun, so I agreed to learn.” Over the years, he turned his art into a four-and-a-half minute act, which he has performed in the US, Canada, the Caribbean and India.

Because of his success, both financially and artistically, other performers asked him to help them make the plunge to become full time professionals. Herrera found himself helping so many performers that “I had a business before I knew I had one,” he says. “I have a burning desire to help other artists make a viable living.”

His Velocity Circus, which also employs costumers, riggers, singers, dancers and technicians, now performs 250 shows a year. Herrera tries to make each performance different, tailored to the needs of his clients. Herrera makes it clear that he loves to entertain people; he also enjoys teaching through his Whirling Dervish dance.
“Whether you’re a mystic, a poet or a scientist, you understand that spinning is the basic principle of the universe and a very sacred thing. It’s what circuses, with their basis in circles, are all about.”

Herrera’s act tells the story of the creation of the universe, from the birth of galaxies to the creation of the first man and woman. Like all the acts in Velocity Circus, it’s meant to be a joyful spectacle for the audience as well as a mystical event for the artist. Herrera, who is performing in tonight’s Teatro Sant’ Ignazio fashion show, will be joined by two of his Velocity Circus acts, including the Mystic Pixies — a troupe of young contortionists on their way to an new Cirque du Soleil production in Montreal — and a talented singer.

When his acts aren’t performing, he has them create art around his house, “The Gregangelo Museum,” which has become a local attraction. These artists work on new designs for each room and on props and costumes for his new shows. During the interview, one of his performers, Darkhia, could be heard hammering copper for a costume. One of two Mongolian “hand-dancers,” Darkhia is one of the stars of the Velocity Circus. “Her movement is ethereal, almost
beyond human,” says Herrera. “It’s a joy to be able to help her.”

The result makes both for great shows and for a home like none other. “We all work to produce this house the same way we produce a show, with each room an act and a surprise,” adds Herrera. “You never know what spectacle the next room will bring.”

Youth and artists tour groups are welcomed to view his home and art for a fee, all of which goes to support Children United by Experience International, a non-profit he cofounded with his partner, Jeffrey Ferns, and his sister, Cathy Kelly. CUE provides art programming, mentors and advocacy for at-risk youth and a performing platform for young emerging artists.

Gregangelo surrounds himself with extraordinary artists and acknowledges his success is inspired by those around him, He
loves to tell his team of performers “to elevate those you, to create no obstacles and not to sweat the financial. If you do these three, success happens.”

For PDF version of article
click here..

For Gregangelo Herrera, his home is
like his circus shows, with each room
asurprise act. Photos by Paul Totah





Arts Extra!



By Jamie Windborne, Arts Extra! editor
Arts Extra! attended Gregangelo and Velocity Circus' new stage show, 1906: Journey Through the Mythical City, at Theatre 39 on June 24. With music, lyrics and comedy sketches composed by Rita Abrams, the musical and circus arts show touched an audience that was itself a hybrid of out-of-towners, local theater enthusiasts, and Velocity Circus fans.

Early in the show, the legendary 1906 earthquake interrupts a choreographic climax of festive dances, including Native American ceremonial dance, Flamenco Spanish dance, Russian ballet, saloon-styled can-can dancing, Japanese acrobatics and others. The culmination of multiethnic performances colorfully illustrates how San Francisco was settled, embraced and shared by so many different cultures. But the show is only beginning with the rumble of the earthquake and the rising of a phoenix-like creature out of the rubble and ashes. Alas, comfort is found in Miss Golden Gate Bridge, played by Bettina Devin, who sings, “When you come to San Francisco, you come home.”

Left: La Luna greets theatre patrons at the door with her great lime-green moth wings. Right: Bettina Devin as Miss Golden Gate Bridge in Gregangelo and Velocity Circus' new stage show, 1906: Journey Through the Mythical City. Photos by Jamie Windborne.

The show is comprised of articulate choreography, costumes that are functional works of art themselves, and stage performances that range from humorous gags to musical celebration to inspiring acrobratics. And according to Gregangelo, the show is as phenomenal on stage as it is behind stage.

"It's like a three-dimensional circus on a quarter ring stage," said 1906 producer and artistic director Gregangelo Herrera, an internationally known artistic director, performer, choreographer, and costume designer. It's the smallest stage we've ever performed on, and the behind stage action, in terms of space, is like a labyrinth of ants."

La Luna greeted theatre patrons at the door with her great lime-green moth wings, but her role was just as instrumental behind stage, helping and hurrying performers into their costumes, some of which she designed. "We're all dressing each other back stage," said La Luna, aka Loree Lee, who does not like to be mistaken for a butterfly. Everybody is so generous — stopping and helping each other. The performers are literally jumping into their costumes to make their cues."

Gregangelo himself performs in the show as the whirling dervish, spinning several removable skirt-like capes against the kaleidoscope backdrop of a video projection. "It's hard describing it all," he said. "It's a great experience, and people have to experience it themselves to see it all."

Proceeds from the show benefit Children United by Experience, a Bay Area non-profit founded by Gregangelo and Velocity Arts & Entertainment. 1906: Journey Through the Mythical City runs through August 26 At Theatre 39, Pier 39. Matinees only at 1pm and 3pm. Thursdays and Fridays. 1pm. Saturdays. Visit for more information.



Independent Journal



By Rick Polito

The stage is bathed in black light when the DayGlo butterfly flutters across the stage in dance shoes. A black velvet bag crawls across the boards, with more neon shapes emerging from the negative chrysalis.

And the trio of Transamerica buildings are still waiting off stage, with the contortionist and the aerialist and the Russian dancer in the psychedelic skinsuit.

Life was simpler for Stephanie Barclay-Romano when she was choreographing Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire routines with her brother as a teen in Novato. Tying together musical comedy, showgirls and circus acts for “1906,” opening today in a Pier 39 theater space, makes the tango look like the Hokey Pokey.

“This show,” she says, sighing only slightly, “has everything.” In a way, Barclay-Romano has already done everything. Growing up through schools such as Marin Country Day School and the Marin Academy, the Santa Rosa choreographer marched from dance class to dance class and show to show.

“My mom made sure we did everything,” she recalls. As an adult, she’s returned DayGlo butterflies help tell the story of San Francisco’s history in '1906.' the favor, working with schools and children's dance troupes to stage productions across the North Bay.

But “1906” is different. A production of Gregangelo Herrera’s Velocity Circus with lyrics by Mill Valley songwriter Rita Abrams, “1906” is billed as “a journey through the mythical city” and enlists 18 dancers, singers, actors and acrobats in artistic fantasy history of San Francisco. With comedy.
The acrobats know their arts. The dancers know their steps. Barclay-Romano’s job is to pull it together on a stage sized more appropriately for a kindergarten pageant than a Cirque du Soleil musical comedy.
She seems to be up to it. Four days from opening night, she stands notepad in hand, eyes in constant movement. The contortionists are warming up. The butterfly is on stage and the pair of infinitely flexible pre-teen aerialists are crawling in their blackout bag.

The artists are blocking out the “Utopia” finale, in the dark. Barclay-Romano is fixing blue splotches of tape on the stage to fix turning points and stops. She turns to the butterfly and says, “You don't need to have your wings on right now.”

She climbs onto the stage to coax the cubist Transamerica showgirls into place — “You're a little trio right over there” — and turns quickly to the contortionist. The lanky, impossibly limber young man has his petite partner pretzeled around his waist like a fashion accessory.
Abrams looks on at how her story and songs are coming to the stage.

“ She's got 18 artists to work with,” Abrams says, impressed with the choreographer’s ability to compose space and stage. “She was showing a black rapper how to move. How does she know this stuff?”

Barclay-Romano knows this stuff because she’s done so much of it. She grew up with ballet and every ethnic dance class she could find. She was in every show she could sign up for and has studied with the San Francisco Ballet School and the Oakland Ballet. She dances at corporate events and has laced on the tap shoes more than a few times.

The move into choreography was natural for her. She hasn’t hung up her dance shoes yet, but she’s spending more time in front of the stage than on it. “I own one formal tutu, that's it,” she says, and laughs.

Nobody on the stage at Theater 39 is wearing a tutu at this rehearsal. The costumes for the finale are more abstract than that, the performers moving like psychedelic anatomic models. They just need to move around each other while avoiding the preteens spinning in the giant hoop suspended from the ceiling. The stuntwoman/acrobat in the giant angel wings edges cautiously across the stage. It’s getting crowded. There are nine performers sharing the space now, half of them sprouting wings or some Golden Gate/Bay Bridge appendage.

Barclay-Romano waves to the tech in the light booth to stop the music.
“This just has to be way faster,” she says, addressing the onstage assemblage.

The music starts again. The contortionists are crabwalking to the wings. Barclay-Romano looks concerned. “I don't know if you have that much room,” she cautions them.

A few feet away, a stagehand is assembling a open metal cube that will spin one of the aerialists across the stage.

The rehearsal goes on. A Cirque du Soleil veteran has himself wrapped in velvet ropes, suspended from the ceiling. Barclay-Romano eyes the height and looks back to her notepad. The Russian dancer is spinning a ribbon on the end of a short stick. He's “water.”

“ Watch out for the angel and the stick,” Barclay-Romano cautions the butterfly.

This is actually one of the easy acts,” Herrera whispers in an aside.

They run “Utopia” from the top. The aerialist girls crawl out of their bags, emerging into the black light. The Transamerica buildings strut on stage. The “water” flows in ribbons. The angel flexes her wings.
It's coming together.

But Barclay-Romano is on stage, adjusting angle and posture for the final pre-curtain postcard pose. Between the circus acts and the dancers and the singers — who aren't even on stage yet — there is a lot of composition, especially when the only light is black light the edge of stage lost in DayGlo blur.

The choreographer likes what she sees. The third Transamerica headpiece peeks through the expansive angel wings, the butterfly flutters to still. Nobody has anybody’s feathers in her eyes.
She turns in place and faces the Russian dancer.

“Vladimir,” she says. “What are we going to do with you?”


San Francisco Examiner
Thursday, February 2, 2006


By Christopher Caen

…The Velocity Circus provided entertainment in between the presentations and became progressively more surreal as
the show went on. Before the presentation of the Cyril Magnin Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Tilson Thomas, the ringleader for the circus bounded to the microphone and quickly launched into a musical listing of all the Russian conductors through history.

Imagine Tom Lehrer combining the elements song with “Lobachevsky.”
At the conclusion a stunned Mistress of Ceremonies Kate Kelly looked out over the audience and muttered, “Am I in a Fellini movie here?”

The Business Arts Council Awards luncheon






Friday, October 14, 2005


By David C. Neilsen II/Chief Photographer  
A large crowd enjoys the incredible performance of Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus performers during The Art of Wine and Food, Artoberfest at Feather Falls Casino, Wednesday evening. Scores of people attended the event which was a first of its kind that included performances by Mongolian contortionists and mystical cloud dancers. In addition to this world class entertainment, there were glass art displays...

Velocity Circus' Mongolian Contortionists
September 28, 2005

American India Foundation
to Host Fall Benefit Gala

“We are thrilled by the response we’ve received thus far for our Fall Benefit Gala," remarks AIF President Lata Krishnan. “We welcome the support of past and new donors as we raise funds for innovative and scalable projects in India."

Over 800 guests including Fortune 500 CEOs and leaders from corporations, government, media and the entertainment industry are expected to attend, including award-winning Bollywood actress and AIDS activist, Shilpa Shetty.

The grand highlight of the evening will be an entertainment extravaganza featuring the renowned whirling dervish Gregangelo & his Velocity Circus Troupe in a stunning display of aerial acts.
Bangalore-born painter and up- and-comer Raghava will showcase his acclaimed artistic innovation titled Anthropomorphism — When Paintings Dance…




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The Sacramento Bee
June 21, 2003

Sacramento Bee / Owen Brewer
Copyright 2003 The Sacramento Bee


Dervish performer puts new spin
on old tradition

by Fahizah Alim
Bee Staff Writer

Like most children, Gregangelo loved spinning his body around in circles until he was dizzy. When he was 5, he remembers, he spun around on the sidewalk in front of his grandmother's San Francisco home until he didn't know where he was when he stopped. So he spun himself around again in the opposite direction to bring himself back to the real world.

Gregangelo, the adult, still spins.

As the founder of the San Francisco-based Velocity Circus Troupe, Gregangelo has taken his signature act, the Whirling Dervish, around the world, popularizing an ancient form of worship practiced by the Sufi mystics, or Whirling Dervishes. Gregangelo will perform this weekend at the Fair Oaks Renaissance Tudor Fayre.

The Dervish mystical dancers are believed to stand between the material and cosmic worlds. Their dance is part of a sacred ceremony in which the dervish rotates in a precise rhythm, representing the Earth revolving on its axis while orbiting the sun.

The purpose of the ritual whirling is for the Dervish to empty himself of all distracting thoughts, placing him in a trance; released from his body, he conquers dizziness.

Gregangelo has achieved this state. He relishes it.

" People are so focused on their problems that they forget that we are part of this huge organic, majestic universe," Gregangelo says. "I see everything from on high and my head is really in the stars."

The Whirling Dervishes trace their origin to the 13th century Ottoman Empire and are also known as the Mevlevi Order, a spiritual offshoot of Islam.

In his whirling performance, Gregangelo spins continuously and effortlessly while shedding heavy, ornate robes of spun gold, velvet and satin - weighing up to 130 pounds. Dancers and drummers accompany him.

The spinning and unveiling of the layers tell a story of the cosmos and its rhythmic and unending motion.

"When I started performing," Gregangelo says after whirling on one foot for what seemed like an eternity, "people would ask why. This is my version of ancient Egyptian philosophy and astronomy. They knew that everything in the universe is made up of matter and was in fact spinning.

"Their way of trying to bridge heaven and earth was to begin to spin. It was the first story the universe told, and the last."

After graduating from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1989, Gregangelo began whirling professionally as a member of the San Francisco Middle Eastern dance troupe called the Aswan Dancers.
He has danced around the world, making appearances on television and in the theater. While his artistic performances have been used commercially to promote everything from Macy's "Back to School" catalog to United Airlines' in-flight commercials, his act is rooted in the mystical.

When he was in training, Gregangelo twirled for as long as two hours. His performance twirling is much shorter now, lasting for four or five minutes.

But the physical agility and concentration that it requires is apparent.
"It takes physical strength, a sort of separation of the mind and body and good balance," Gregangelo says. "There is also a sacredness that does in fact create a vortex that allows me to become disattached. It creates a natural high."

While there are other spinners who are not of the spiritual order, Gregangelo says, he has experienced some mild criticism from those who are religious in their practice. He has made some changes in his whirling: he turns to the right, whereas the religious dervishes whirl to the left.

"We have created a new tradition," he says.

Gregangelo also has created a museum in San Francisco dedicated to the cosmos. The Gregangelo Museum is a collection of rooms and objects transformed and created, through artistic interpretation, into an structure of color, texture and mystical signs.



San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, July 30, 1999


Daredevil Performers Bring
Variety to the Big Top
Modern circus is all acrobat, no animals
By Daedalus Howell
Special to the Chronicle

Some people really do run off and join the circus—or at least start one.
For aerial acrobat Gregangelo Herrera, events like the Sonoma County Fair provide the chance to make a living—and to follow a dream.
“ About a year ago, I was working with a lot of performers who I thought were fantastic artists, mostly on the corporate circuit, and we decided to band together and start a group,” says Herrera, whose savvy has kept Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus Troupe gainfully employed.

The group appears daily through August 9 as part of the Sonoma County Fair’s “On With the Show” program of circus-themed acts.
The San Francisco group eschews the business model of traditional circuses—costly animal acts, cumbersome production facilities and endless touring—for a lean garrison of up to 20 performers who cull their motifs from contemporary culture.

“We’re doing a half-hour of what I call a “cyber circus,” which is an act-to-act variety-style show threaded together by a narrating master of ceremonies,” says Herrera, 32, who will appear with seven other circus acts at the fair.

“There will be an acrobatic fire-eater, a male contortionist, which is sort of unusual, physical comedians or clowns who do interactive stuff with the audience, as well as a young illusionist who combines magic with circus arts. Also, I will be doing an aerial act with my partner.”
Herrera’s circus follows a trend established by the Pickle Family Circus and Cirque du Soleil.

“One-ring, European-style, all-human, no-animal circuses are the major trend right now,” he says. “We take it a little further. We can bring our act anywhere without the giant production and tremendous expenses, so we can save our clients a lot of money.”

Learning the Art
Gregangelo’s interest in the circus was piqued when he was in high school.

“I started in the ethnic dance world,” he recalls. “My main act was a whirling dervish act, which I started in high school when part of a Mediterranean dance group.”

Herrera’s act caught on, and soon he was performing it in clubs.
“ I eventually turned it into a nightclub act, as I became more interested in its entertainment aspects,” he says. “At the same time, I was training in circus and arts, specifically at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts.”

These days, Herrera teaches at the school, where he trained for five years before becoming a professional aerialist. His intense rehearsal and workout regimen absorbs most of his week.

“It requires lots of strength and concentration—and, we hope, a little bit of grace and artistry,” he says. “We’ll be working with ropes. We climb them, we wrap ourselves into various knots, we do free falls and catch ourselves and hang in every which way you can imagine.”

Creating a bond between the members of Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus Troupe is crucial not only to their success, but also to their safety.
“ We’re a little bit different than the touring circuses,” Herrera says. “We’re not in cramped quarters for three months at a time.”
Because members of the troupe perform an irregular schedule at varying venues, there’s no set daily or weekly routine for performers.
“ Of course, there is a kind of family thing, but none of us are related, the way a lot of circuses are where you’re bred into it,” he says. “Our artists chose this profession.”

Making that profession profitable is possible, Herrera says, “if you know how to sell it, promote it and keep up with it.”

Jane Engdahl, special events coordinator for the Sonoma County Fair, says Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus presents a different kind of entertainment than in years past.

“This is not traditional fair entertainment,” Engdahl said. “This is nice—a little more like theater.”

Change of Pace for Fair
She said that fair organizers liked Herrera’s group because it was unusual but still appealing to a main-stream audience.

“We walk a fine line,” Engdahl said. “We have a lot of the traditional elements of a county fair, but we also try to appeal to people who like modern entertainment. This troupe has it all.”

This is the first time it will perform at the Sonoma County Fair. The high-flying group’s earth-bound gigs include corporate affairs and arts fairs.

“Ours is definitely a modern circus,” he says. “A lot of our artists have worked with larger, traditional companies, but we’re trying to create a whole new concept, where we’re available to bring a show anywhere, whereas a touring circus can’t really do that.”


AERIAL ACROBATS: Zeina Asfour, or “Momenta,” (left) performs with Gregangelo Herrera, or “Vortex,” the leader of the troupe.



Mill Valley Business 
November, 2004 
Volume 11, Issue 10 


Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus Comes to MV

On Friday, November 5 at 8:00pm and Sunday, November 7 at 5:00pm, the 142 Throckmorton Theatre will present Gregangelo’s Velocity Circus in “Life IS a Circus,” a brand new cirque-style performance. The November 6 date is a benefit for CUE, an organization affiliated with Velocity Circus. Part musical theatre, part theatrical circus, the show features dazzling spectacle acts interlaced with the comic songs and sketches of Emmy-Award winning composer Rita Abrams.

Gregangelo & Velocity Circus was founded in 1997 as a means of providing hi-impact spectacle acts and shows to audiences worldwide. The company fuses Ethnic Dance, Jazz, Ballet, Circus Arts and Museum quality costumes into an entertainment extravaganza. Previous shows have been hailed by critics as “Phenomenal…dramatic!” [LA Times]; “Simply brilliant…not just an act, but an aesthetic…” [The Times of India]; “Thoroughly modern entertainment,” [San Francisco Examiner].
In the production of “Life IS a Circus,” Velocity brings together performers and artists from as far away as the steppes of Mongolia and as near as the Cities by the Bay—together in a circle of artistic talent to inspire a new audience for the world of performing arts.

Tickets are $20 General Admission/$15 Students and Seniors and available through the 142 Throckmorton Theatre box office at 415-383-9600 or online at
Photo of Marisa captioned:
Velocity Circus will feature music, comedy and cirque-style performances on Nov. 5 and Nov. 7.

Velocity Circus will feature music, comedy and
cirque-style performances on Nov. 5 and Nov. 7.




Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Thursday, April 21, 2005


Spring Looks Star in Stunt-filled Shows

Fashionably dressed performers go aerial at Ala Moana
Center High style: Velocity Circus performers to put on
acrobatic fashion show

By Jacquelyn Carberry

Models rolling in paint? No.

Fashion shows staged in different parts of the mall? No.
But it was the sixth or seventh idea that caught Ala Moana Center’s attention: a fashion show combining high-wire acts and the mall’s new spring line of clothing from Ann Taylor, Crazy Shirts, Cache, Tori Richard and more.

Performers will be draped in bright colors and fashionable garments while performing stunts 35 feet in the air. There will be no professional models at this signature fashion event, staged tonight through Saturday, save for Tina Kasuya, who will be working strictly behind the scenes, offering tips on wardrobe and styling.
The show, dubbed “Art of Style,” promises a spectacle, combining aerial acts and diverse music, including dashes of jazz, swing, Broadway, opera, hip-hop and classical.

The performers and musicians, dressed in retailers’ key looks for spring and summer, will be visible from all three levels of the mall.
Ala Moana Center wanted a colorful showcase to open Hawaii Arts Season, so its planners turned to Tim Bostock Productions.
“They wanted something splashy,” said Andrew Meander, Bostock’s business partner. “We knew who to call.”

Enter the high-flying Velocity Circus from San Francisco, featuring former Cirque du Soleil members. “Most of the performances are created elsewhere and brought to Hawaii, but we created this one from scratch,” Meander said.

As Meander puts it, he and Bostock “aren’t fashion guys,” but they do know how to put on a good show. “Every show has its challenge, and this show allowed us to use our creativity.”

This isn’t the first time Velocity Circus has been involved in fashion shows or product launches, but Ala Moana might be the first outdoor airspace they will be performing in.

“One of the great aspects of the Velocity Circus is that they can adapt to any theme or venue,” Bostock said in a news release.“The company has the ability to fuse together elements from ancient, contemporary and futuristic world cultures, dance, circus arts, visual arts, science, astronomy and more.”

As for the other ideas proffered for the show, that might have to wait until another time, Meander said with a laugh. “We might still use those ideas.”

Members of San Francisco’s Velocity Circus will be dressed to thrill during Ala Moana’s theatrical fashion show tonight through Saturday on and above Centerstage. They were photographed rehearsing on Tuesday night.



SF 7x 7 Magazine




GREGANGELO / Velocity Circus Troupe
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