An astronomy-inspired circus performance that takes you on a journey through the cosmos. Exploring what it means to be alive and present in the age of science and how we are connected to the lives of stars.

Cirque Roots’ latest production, Exist, is an artistic venture to bridge the gap between art and science, in a way that integrates rather than isolates the two.  Expect for your mind to be opened to the vast scales of our physical world beyond our little planet using media projections of the cosmos, dance, acrobatics, aerial, stilt dance, spoken word, original soundtrack and innovative circus props. Centered around Carl Sagan’s famous quote, “We are star stuff,” meaning that our bodies are composed of chemical elements that originated inside stars. There is vast cosmic recycling that happens in the evolution of the Universe, from star birth to star death. Our planet, our bodies, and everything that we own are here because of that process. Exist will explore the physical and emotional significance of what it means to be human in the Universe.

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

“Cirque Roots is always worth seeing. Very imaginative costumes! It’s about time women astronomers get more credit too!”
— Exist Audience Attendee - May 2018
“It inspired me as a future educator. I enjoyed the way art was used to make complex concepts interesting to a wide range of audiences.”
— Exist Audience Attendee - May 2018



The cast consists of four circus artists and one storyteller, performing live spoken word.  The story follows two separate timelines:  (1) the lifecycle of stars from birth to death, and (2) the human connection to the universe following the discoveries of three notable women in astronomy.

Stephanie Cortes, Director, Co-Producer and Performer, has a Master’s in astronomy and is one of the founding members of Cirque Roots (a circus production company established in 2011). She also teaches Astronomy at Pima Community College and Exist utilizes her two career paths, blending her knowledge of the physical world with her passion for performance art.  Exist was co-written by Stephanie Cortes and Natalie Brewster Nguyen, a Tucson-based performance artist and poet who will be the storyteller, narrating the show. The acting cast includes a diverse group of skilled player collaborating for this original Cirque Roots production. Including, Zoë Anderson (BA in Film and TV Production) will act as Co-Producer, Brittany Briley will collaborate as Choreographer, and Christoph Dribusch (Owner of Hulalab) is the designer and fabricator of the LED suits and props.  Stephanie, Zoe, Brittany, and Christoph are Cirque Roots performance artists who will act as the four alien star beings.  Original soundtrack by Tucson music producer Ian Browning aka Party Force. Show length is approximately 1 hour.