Over a cup of coffee and a book of poetry by Tim Burton, Paper Doll Militia was born. The child of four artists in Santa Fe, Paper Doll Militia has roots in circus, original music, puppetry, and dreamy, whimsical, dark storytelling. Read The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and think of us in a cafe in the desert dreaming of circus with a story. That’s who we were, that’s who we are.
The Paper Doll Militia purpose is to enrich the cultural life of the community through dynamic movement, storytelling and education. We seek to create a total visual and emotional experience. In the creation process, we emphasize interdisciplinary collaborations within the larger artistic community, Our educational programs focus on aerial skill building and theatricality and are designed to instill a sense of discipline. creativity, and empowerment.
Paper Doll Militia’s innovative approach to choreography and poignant use of theatricality have gained the company the reputation of being pioneers in original aerial theatre. Their pieces seamlessly weave dynamic physicality, aerial arts, and visual theatre. They emphasize the mixture of modern and vintage mediums as well as invented aerial apparatus to create their signature aesthetic; dreamy, whimsical, and dark. The company was formed in Santa Fe, NM in 2006 producing it’s first and sold out show, Rara Avis. The company then toured their show Tin Can Cabaret to New York and Portland Maine. And in 2008 the company moved to San Francisco. Rooting itself in the San Francisco Bay area they held Artist in Residency positions at both Athletic Playground and Kinetic Arts Center and produced Their Secret Steps and This Twisted Tale as well as reproducing Tin Can Cabaret in 2010 to a sold out audience. This Twisted Tale went on to show in 3 US cities and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it received rave reviews. “The artists show immense skill….Wonderfully poetic, . . . delicate and beautiful…[an] overwhelming production.” Veronika Kallus, Three Weeks ****
The company now has headquarters in Los Angeles, California and Edinburgh, Scotland. The company also works as choreographers and aerial consultants in projects in India, Egypt, Croatia, the UK and the US. Paper Doll Militia maintains a commitment to involvement with high quality and experimental art festivals and events including The High Mayhem Immersive Arts Festival (New Mexico U.S) Installation-Performance-Interactive Festival (New Mexico, U.S.), Sacred & Profane Festival (Peaks Island, U.S.) The company continues to perform and teach around the world; most recent and notable performances include: Moisture Festival, Seattle; Fog Fest, San Francisco; Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival; Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, Edinburgh; Dance Canvas, Atlanta, Revolutions International Theatre Festival, Albuquerque; VAULT Festival, London; and TILT festival, Birmingham. In summer 2014, the company co-produced the highly successful show Exposed which had record ticket sales at 7 Stages theatre in the heart of Little Five Points, Atlanta. A later rendition of that show LoopsEnd sold out at New Orleans Fringe 2014 with raving reviews “Surprisingly delicate and mesmerizing, LoopsEnd takes risks the momentum of the show never diminished when the acrobats touched ground. Rather they seemed propelled with story, pushing and recharging themselves against one another.” Stephanie Garrison, Black and Gold Review
With her 25 years of experience onstage in theatre, dance, music, and circus, Rain’s life’s work is in the integration of circus arts with other performance and movement disciplines. Rain’s aerial career began with the political circus company Wise Fool New Mexico in 2003. Out of inspired collaborations there, the seeds for the Paper Doll Militia were sown. Rain has been creating and touring original productions with the company since 2006, in the US and the UK.
Rain is also a passionate aerial arts instructor and travels around the world teaching PDM specialty workshops, teacher trainings, and aerial retreats (Greece & Mexico). When she’s not on the road, Rain offers private lessons out of her East LA home studio. Rain also works as a trainer and consultant for theatre and film, notable clients include top Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif for her role in Dhoom 3 and sports legend Serena Williams.
Sarah Bebe Holmes’ aerial style is characterized by quality of movement, emotional narrative content, and original innovative choreography. Notable performance credits include: Chicaco Contemporary Circus Festival, Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, National Mallakhamb Championship (Mumbai, India), Treasure Island Music Festival (San Francisco), and Derry City of Culture (Ireland). Sarah also co-founded Structural Integrity Project (SIP), an international aerial film project that challenged the concepts of what an aerial production could be; the SIP filmed aerial in unexpected rural and industrial locations, including aerial silks on a banyan tree outside an abandoned palace in Lebanon, aerial chain suspended from stationary cranes in Edinburgh, and the underside of the onramp to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. In 2010-2011 Sarah toured as aerialist and puppeteer with London-based threesixty Entertainment’s 1300-seat pavilion production of Peter Pan. Sarah played Luce in This Twisted Tale, (U.S. Tour and Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Sarah is a choreographer and director for circus and aerial theatre productions including Sharashif (Beirut Lebanon), Two and a Half Sisters (Zagreb, Croatia), SnowQueen (Zagreb, Croatia) and RISE (Edinburgh Scotland).
**Colleen McKeown and Westin McDowell are original founding members of Paper Doll Militia
Colleen McKeown – Founder
Westin McDowell – Founder
Circus Gear – Custom Apparatus Fabricator
Paul Holmes – Set Design / Master Carpenter
David Tatu – Lighting Designer
George Tarbuck – Lighting Designer
Ben Exler- Animator
Zdenko Bašić – Animator
Ben Harrison – Director
Mike Estee – Inventor
David Paul Jones – Composer
Anthony Espina – Composer
Corvas K. Brinkerhoff II – Lighting Designer
Nikolas Strubbe – Storyteller
Santhosh Koneru – Digital Artist (Live photo essay)
Sasha Baskina – Visual Designer
Evan Tracy – Aerial Sculptor
Emily Frost – Visual Artist (Shadow puppets)
Calum MacAskill -Animator
Lee Dotson – Animator
Saye Gbatu – Animator
Annette Holmes – Costume Mistress