This weekend at City Hall: BMX tricks, hip-hop contortionist in ‘modern circus’

But don’t expect elephants or trapeze acts ― think hip hop acrobatic contortionist and flatland BMX.

Raphael Xavier is a multi-talented artist

Raphael Xavier is a multi-talented artist

Raphael Xavier

Think of it like modern day three-ring circus, compressed into one. This Saturday, the City Hall courtyard will play host to breakdancers, saxaphonists, chalk artists, face painters and a flatland BMX rider ― all at the same time.

What’s the goal behind this organized chaos, which is one of the first free family-friendly events of Fringe Festival 2016? According to Philadelphia breakdancer, musician, comedian and general arts prodigy Raphael Xavier, it’s simple as “fun.”

“I had the idea of bringing all the (street) performers in the city in one space so you don’t have to walk from City Hall to the subway station to Rittenhouse Square,” Xavier said. “Now you can see them all at one spot.”

Planning his “Raphstravaganza: The Kinetic Experience,” on the other hand, was anything but simple.

Xavier commissioned custom illustrations to promote the event

Xavier commissioned custom illustrations to promote the event

Anne Lambelet

Xavier has spent the past two years putting the show together, navigating several stops and starts in terms of the venue, talent and set-up.

He tried first to book Dilworth Park, but was declined. As a second choice, he went for the City Hall courtyard. Although the change in dimension required some reworking of the performance, Xavier ended up appreciating the closeness afforded by the change in location. Instead of being separated from a stage by several feet, he said, spectators will be up-close and personal during the breakdancing routines and BMX action.

Xavier’s inspiration for “Raphstravaganza” (a name he said started as a joke) was to combine several activities he enjoyed as a child. He actually still does a lot of these things himself, but for the show decided to recruit the best talent he knew.


I love this because it shows you’re never too old to do what you loved doing as a kid,” Xavier said.

Performances include a routine by Cirque du Soleil choreographer Bill Shannon, who performs dances on crutches, and a hip-hop contortionist act by “cyber yoga” instructor Lamonte Tales Goode. Folks who stop by can also get their faces painted and interact with booths from various sponsors, including Nestle, Gianfranco Pizza Rustica and Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust.

The event runs Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. Though it’s free to attend, you can reserve bleacher seating for $12 (comes with popcorn!) or get a $100 all-day VIP access pass, which includes food, drinks and vendor swag.


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