Renowned cellist and performance artist Cellista is about to take her new show on a dual continental tour beginning April 13th . Élégie is a stage poem for aerial cello. The performance comes to Anno Domini Gallery in San Jose on April 13th and to Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica on April 27th. This summer it will be staged in London at Jacksons Lane on June 7th as well as performances in both Cardiff and Saltburn (Dates below).

“My journey to becoming an aerialist started during the pandemic when I ended up at Kennedy Kabasares’ static trapeze class at Believe Fitness in Los Angeles. I cannot for the life of me, remember what brought me there. It feels like a dream of some sort. I immediately loved static trapeze for its fundamental design and storytelling potential. Kennedy pushed me hard and it was only a year later that I managed to get into the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) Summer Intensive session. Learning to play cello 15-feet in the air has been a true test of nerve and skill,” explains Cellista. “In order to balance atop the bar with a 20-pound instrument, overcome my fear of height and falling, I’ve had to embrace the struggles and difficulties head on. But amidst the challenges, there’s beauty in the balance—a reminder to slow down, breathe, and focus.” At NECCA she has been training with Elsie Smith (Nimble Arts) and Joel Baker (Cirque du Soleil; Les 7 Doigts).

The one-hour performance follows the story of Élégie, a blackbird who shape shifts into human form and back, finding serenity through her journey. The soundtrack is a collection of Cellista’s work spanning the last few years and includes original compositions from her albums Finding San Jose and RAGE, with a couple of new works written for the project, as well as a reworking of the hit song “Where Is My Mind?” by Frank Black. Élégie is directed and performed by Cellista. Choreography is by Cellista, Kennedy Kabasares, Elsie Smith, and creative consultation by Joel Baker. The film was edited by Jennifer Gigantino, with cinematography by Bryan Gibel.

Gibel, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist, is planning a documentary short film focused on Cellista’s journey as an artist and issues surrounding mental health. Cellista scored Gibel’s film Sickness in the System (2023) about prisoners in San Quentin who contracted COVID. Nearly all of the footage seen within the production of Élégie was shot in Buenos Aires with Gibel and will be included in the upcoming documentary.

Cellista’s live performances have always been acts of resistance art, investigating the ruptures of daily life. They are political, observant, and revealing. They are concerned with breaking down the borders between audiences and performers, disciplines and genres, and juxtaposing seemingly disparate elements. Cellista’s recent performance at Dairy Arts Center (Boulder, CO) are featured in Westword and the Longmont Leader.

Cellista plays a Luis & Clarke carbon fibre cello, and an 1885 Czech cello named Chordelia. Her influences include Jean Cocteau, Charlotte Moorman and The Notorious B.I.G. Ultimately she wishes to join professional performing troupes such as Quixotic, Vau de Vire, Freestyle Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil, Les 7 Doigts and to be hired for large scale productions.

Cellista’s Élégie Dates:

  • Saturday, April 13th at Anno Domini Gallery in San Jose, CA
  • Saturday, April 27th at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA
  • Thursday, June 6th at Chapter in Cardiff, UK
  • Friday, June 7th at Jacksons Lane in London, UK
  • Sunday, June 9th in Saltburn, UK

Featured image by Temira Decay/Yellow Bubbles Photography.