Cirque Acrobats Soar Above Orchestra In Exciting Display Of Athleticism And Musicianship

Jan. 6-8, 2017

Alexander Streltsov & Christine Van Loo

HOUSTON (Dec. 20, 2016) – The Houston Symphony will kick off the new year with a gravity-defying, stunningly visual and musical spectacle that will bring that magic of cirque to Jones Hall at 8 p.m. Jan. 6-7 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 8.

Cirque Goes to the Movies features the orchestra alongside Cirque de la Symphonie’s world-class aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strongmen, who will perform choreographed routines to epic movie score themes, including selections from Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Titanic and Back to the Future. 

Originally conceived in 2006 by Principal POPS Conductor Mike Krajewski, Cirque de la Symphonie is an elegant and exciting adaptation of some of the most amazing cirque acts widely seen in theaters around the world, all of which are perfectly choreographed to classical masterpieces and popular contemporary music. Cirque Goes to the Movies, which was premiered in May 2016 in Philadelphia, is the fourth Cirque de la Symphonie program that Krajewski has brought to the Houston Symphony.

Cirque de la Symphonie artists have performed with more than 100 orchestras worldwide. The accomplished veteran performers include world record holders, Olympians and gold-medal winners of international competitions. The organization is the only cirque company in the world that performs exclusively with symphony orchestras.

The concert will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston’s Theater District. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change


Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, 2:30 p.m.
Michael Krajewski, conductor
Aloysia Gavre, aerialist
Sagiv Ben Binyamin, acrobat
Jarek and Darek, strongmen
Oleksiy Snarskyy, acrobat & wheel performer
Marcello Antonio Balestracci, acro-gymnast
Autumn Crockett, acrobat
Armando Munoz, aerialist
Sarah Sporich, contortionist
Tickets from $25

About Michael Krajewski
Known for his entertaining programs and clever humor, Michael Krajewski is a much sought after conductor of symphonic pops. In addition to his role as Principal Pops Conductor of the Houston Symphony, he is music director of The Philly Pops and principal pops conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Jacksonville Symphony.
As a guest conductor, Michael has performed with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; the Boston and Cincinnati Pops; the San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis Symphonies; the Baltimore, Detroit, Indianapolis, Dallas, Pittsburgh and National Symphony Orchestras and numerous other orchestras across the nation. In Canada, he has led Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra; the Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras; Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Other international appearances include Dublin and Belfast with the Ulster Orchestra and performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Spain’s Bilbao Symphony Orchestra.
Michael is the conductor of the video Silver Screen Serenade with violinist Jenny Oaks Baker that aired worldwide on BYU Broadcasting. He has led the Houston Symphony on two holiday albums: Glad Tidings and Christmas Festival. In 2016, he’s conducting his original Carole King Songbook across North America featuring Broadway’s Liz Callaway, Allison Blackwell and Bryce Ryness. Michael’s other collaborative programs have included flutist James Galway, mezzo Marilyn Horne, pianist Alicia de Larrocha, guitarist Angel Romero and pop artists Jason Alexander, Roberta Flack, Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Wynonna Judd, Kenny Loggins, Ben Folds, Doc Severinsen, Patti Austin, Sandi Patty, Ann Hampton Callaway, Chicago, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Chieftains, Pink Martini, Rockapella, Cirque de la Symphonie, Classical Mystery Tour, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Midtown Men.
With degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Michael furthered his training at the Pierre Monteux Domaine School for Conductors. He was a Dorati Fellowship Conductor with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and later served as that orchestra’s assistant conductor. He was resident conductor of the Florida Orchestra and, for 11 years, served as music director of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. Michael lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, Darcy. When not conducting, he enjoys travel, photography and solving crossword puzzles.

About Aloysia Gavre
Aloysia Gavre is an incredible aerial performer from the prestigious Ecole National de Cirque, Montreal, with early training from Master Lu-Yi and the Pickle Family Circus School. Her aerial acrobatics and graceful maneuvers on the aerial hoop, suspended high above the stage, add three-dimensional excitement to the symphony and the music hall. Aloysia was the Special Prize Winner at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo. A veteran of stage and theater performances worldwide, Aloysia is best known as a veteran of Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” and “O.” Her five years with Quidam established her as one of the best aerial artists in the world, and today she shares that experience with others as choreographer for Cirque Mechanics and Troupe Vertigo and as director of Cirque School in Los Angeles. Aloysia’s regular performances with Cirque de la Symphonie and live orchestras take aerial acrobatics to a new level.

About Sagiv Ben Binyamin
Sagiv Ben Binyamin began his gymnastic career in his native Israel before moving to the United States in 2000. His mastery of trapeze, fabrics, rope, hand balancing, and acrobatics quickly attracted the attention of circus companies and major entertainment producers. His stunt credits include movies such as Polar Express and productions such as Universal Studios’ Spiderman Rocks. He is famous for his acrobatics with Teatro ZinZanni, Cirque Productions, Anti-Gravity, Cirque de la Mer, Velocity Circus, Eye of Newt Circus, and the Birdhouse Factory, and he has worked with major performing artists such as Cher. Sagiv provides an amazing rope act and tantalizing adagio in a tango of balance and strength with partner for Cirque de la Symphonie.

About Jarek and Darek

The mind-boggling strength and agility of Jarek and Darek’s “Duo Design” provides one of the most powerful acts to be included in Cirque de la Symphonie’s captivating program. This dynamic and exciting balancing act consists of Jaroslaw Marciniak and Dariusz Wronski, former Polish national hand-balancing champions. They have competed and performed throughout Europe and the United States, winning championships in Evian, France and Sarasota, Florida. Over the past few years, these prolific performers have thrilled audiences at several NBA halftimes, Cirque du Soleil, Circus Circus, Busch Gardens, and the national tour of Cirque Ingenieux. Their Cirque de la Symphonie performances have left audiences stunned and amazed at music halls everywhere.

About Oleksiy Snarskyy

Oleksiy Snarkyy was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and started training competitively at the age of 6 in Sports Acrobatics. He achieved the award of “Master of Sport” in Acrobatics 1996 as well as “International Master of Sport” in Acrobatics in 1998. Oleksiy competed and won many medals and championships in acrobatics on the regional, national and international levels as a member of the National Ukrainian Sports Acrobatics Team. By 2002 Oleksiy had transformed his acrobatic skills into top-form circus acts, and he performed the “Russian Bar” and rope jumping acts in numerous circus appearances across the U.S. and elsewhere. But it was the German wheel which captivated Oleksiy’s attention, and he focused his energy and passion on becoming one of the best and most flamboyant performers on this large prop. Recognized as one of the very best wheel performers anywhere, Oleksiy has performed across the globe for numerous companies, including Imagination Entertainment and Troupe Vertigo and other famous cirque programs.

About Marcello Antonio Balestracci

Marcello “Marco“ Antonio Balestracci is an acro-gymnast, dancer, actor, and singer. He spent ten years in competitive gymnastics and has received several first place medals at state and regional competitions. As a dancer, Marco has worked with choreographers such as Adrienne Dellas-Thornton (Kirov), Rudolf Kharatian (Washington Ballet), and Sandra Balestracci (his mother). He performed in the Nutcracker as a soloist with the American Youth Ballet Company, a production which was broadcast to school systems across the land. He has performed with the Music Theater of Williamsburg with Tom Netherton and with Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. Regional theater musicals have included; King and I, Godspell, and Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat. As an acrobat, Marco made his Broadway debut in the lead role of Cirque’s Jungle Fantasy, followed by a national tour in 2008. He has also starred in other Cirque productions, such as Imaginique and Christmas Dreams. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he has performed with Le Ombre Shadow Acrobatics & Dance and Torque Method. When not touring with Cirque de la Symphonie, Marco teaches at Cirque School, LA, as the Head Acrobatics Instructor.

About Autumn Crockett
Autumn Crockett began training in dance and acrobatics at the age of three at DC Dance Factory in her native state of Tennessee. Her exceptional talents soon led to television performances with LeAnn Rimes, Billy Gilman and CeCe Winans. Autumn’s unique combination of contortion, dance and acrobatics was soon recognized by The Edge Performing Arts Center, an elite company in Los Angeles that provided her with a full scholarship. She continued her movement training with Cirque School LA’s professional program. Her career took off soon afterwards, including appearances with Rihanna in the Video Music Awards, the movie I Kissed a Vampire, America’s Got Talent and numerous commercials. She has performed in live stage shows such as Odyssey Dance Theater, Troupe Vertigo, Le Ombre, La Mirada Theater production of “Cats” and for the Academy of TV, Arts & Sciences. 

About Armando Munoz
Armando Munoz began his performance career as a Latin dancer. His passion and tenacity lead him to win consecutive medals at both the 2010 & 2011 World Latin Dance Cup Championship in Las Vegas. Additional competitions include being a Finalist in the Mexico Salsa Competition and 3rd Place at the International Salsa Competition in San Francisco.  Despite his elite recognition in Latin Dance he longed to fuse his talents with the Circus Arts. He sought aerial training from Master Ivo Gueorguiev from Cirque Du Soleil’s Dralion production, and he specialized in Flying Straps and Fabric. This unique combo of skills led him to a dynamic career working with the San Diego Opera, California Ballet Company and Troupe Vertigo. Armando became co- director of the Alma Latina Performing Arts School in San Diego from 2006-2013, and now teaches aerial straps at Cirque School in Hollywood when not performing with Cirque de la Symphonie.

About Sarah Sporich

Sarah Sporich is a classically trained dancer and contortionist, studying under various high caliber choreographers at the Talent Lab in Los Angeles. She combines the fluidity and grace of dance with the athleticism of aerial arts and the extreme lines of contortion all in one. Sarah’s mixture of skills has brought her a diverse career including performances on GLEE, Michael Jackson Billboard Music Awards and Jennifer Lopez American Music Awards. Theatrical stage shows include touring with Le Ombre Shadow Acrobatics & Dance, Revelations, Troupe Vertigo, and a live show of Pixar’s film Inside Out at the El Capitan in Hollywood. When not performing she teaches Pilates and Aerial skills at Cirque School and is the head coach for their Cirque Kids programming.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2016-17 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its third season with Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada, and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston. For tickets and more information, please visit or call 713-224-7575.