Global Stilt Congress: Board the Citizen Ship at Arcosanti

May 16, 19 • 5enses, EventComments Off on Global Stilt Congress: Board the Citizen Ship at Arcosanti

By Jay Ruby


Citizen Ship: The Legislation” will make its public debut at Arcosanti on May 31 and June 1, as the culminating performance of the 2019 Global Stilt Congress. Performers will include Prescott’s Carpetbag Brigade theatre troupe and stilt walkers from around the world who have been studying at Arcosanti for two weeks during Global Stilt Congress.

This experimental “Citizen Ship” will explore what constitutes membership within the franchise of our society. Its language will be acrobatic stilts, the spoken word poetry of KJ Miner and Leah Marche, and the banjo music of 19th century American songwriter Stephen Foster, as interpreted by musician Steven Ayers.

Global Stilt Congress is a gathering hosted annually by The Carpetbag Brigade at Arcosanti’s experimental urban laboratory. The unique architecture of the site serves as a high-desert arena for stilt-oriented performers and practitioners from around the world. They come together for two weeks to exchange skills, develop craft, and strengthen our community and network. Creating a vocabulary of exchange beyond the realm of verbal language allows for deep artistic interaction. During Global Stilt Congress, invited teachers and directors share their techniques, compositional strategies and life experiences through classes, lectures, and a culminating, site-specific performance project.

The Carpetbag Brigade applies acrobatic stilts as a medium to engage artists from diverse cultures in collaborative process resulting in unique cross-cultural projects. The group started in Prescott in 1997, and was the original host for the Tsunami on the Square festival. After an encounter with David Clarkson from Australia’s Stalker Theatre, they learned the basic vocabulary of acrobatic stiltwalking and began to mix it with butoh dance, a modern form from Japan (inspired by German Expressionism) in which the dancer engages the inner landscape of the soul and lives it through movement and action. Then they incorporated Contact Improvisation, an American form of dance that explores the sharing of weight between bodies. The combination resulted in a strikingly original type of performance art.

The Carpetbag Brigade became “acrostilt” pioneers. After three years of research in Prescott (2001-04) they began to tour their work nationally presenting indoors or outdoors in a full spectrum of venues: proscenium theaters, black boxes, rock concerts, city parks, side streets, or parking lots.

Their unique theatrical language expanded the boundaries in the overlap between physical theater, dance and circus. Rising with beauty, falling with grace, and conjuring ephemeral magic with the movement and action of their powerful bodies, Carpetbag Brigade performances emanate and pulse like the sea at twilight. Balancing intensely raw and precarious physical expression with refined and sublime drama, these stilt performances foster a sense of psychic intimacy, poetic dialogue, and mythic imagery.

After decades of traveling and teaching, Global Stilt Congress serves as event to evolve the form of acrobatic stiltwalking, integrate the broader community and present an experimental performance.



Tickets for this event are $20 online for general admission, $10 for students. At the door, tickets will be $25 for general admission.

Arcosanti, located off I-17 near Cordes Junction, has partnered with Phoenix Diners Collective for a special pop-up dinner experience before the performance. Tickets to this unique dinner event will be $40 for the general public.

To make reservations, visit:

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