Tsunami on the Square
Tsunami on the Square is an annual performing arts and culture festival in Prescott, Arizona that showcases exotic and unique performance art forms not typically seen in smaller towns. In the past, it took place on the third weekend in June on Prescott’s historic Courthouse Square. In 2015, Tsunami will happen on Saturday, October 24th due to the county's concerns about grass maintenance in June. The festival features a mix of local, national and internationally known professional performers.
Tsunami on the Square is named after the natural event least likely to occur in the high desert and was founded by Jay Ruby of The Carpetbag Brigade in 1998. JACQUES LALIBERTÉ, artist, was a Co-founder of the festival, and is believed to have conceived its moniker. The festival is funded primarily through donations from area residents and sponsorships from local businesses. It also receives grants from the city and state.
In 2005, Tsunami on the Square held its first Circus Camp for children between the ages of 6 and 14. Circus Camp is held the week before Tsunami and the children get to lead the parade that opens the Tsunami on the Square Festival. They are also the opening act on the main stage. Starting in 2011, children over the age of 14 who wanted to continue learning and participating in Circus Camp were given the opportunity to become Circus Camp Counselors in Training. Several of the instructors at Circus Camp are also visiting artists who perform on the main stage at the Tsunami festival.
After Jay Ruby there have been four Executive Directors: John "J.T." Tannous, Susan Defreitas, Megan Buchanan Cherry and Andrew Johnson-Schmit.
Tsunami on the Square features a wide range of performance traditions and styles. Past festivals have featured acts such as Native American hoop dancing, modern dance, circus arts, acrobatic stilt walkers, fire performers, hula hoopers, blacklight theater, Japanese Butoh and giant puppets. In addition to the main event, Tsunami on the Square also has traditionally included a site-specific performance on the Thursday before the festival called Flourish Before the Flood.
In 2011, a new event on the Friday before the main Tsunami on the Square festival was added. Neptune's Tea Party featured an acrobatic stilt performance by The Carpetbag Brigade, excerpts of Ember Larson's folk opera, music by Dutch Holly, and music/video/spoken word by Verbobala. This event was held at the historic Elks Opera House  in downtown Prescott.
Some past festival performers include headliners and crowd favorites: Beatmauler, Pyroklectic, The Carpetbag Brigade, Clan Tynker, Flam Chen, Koichi Tamano and Harupin-ha, Archedream for Humankind, Grupo Axé Capoeira, Kid Beyond, Bad Unkl Sista, Aero HoopStars, Troupe Salamat, Verbobala, and Jonathan Best.
One of the popular fundraising methods of the festival is the Skitmercial. Skitmercials are live skits, performed on stage, about festival sponsors. The 2015 production is adding Rapmercials, Poetrymercials and Songmercials to the mix, including full length rap songs for upper level sponsors. The Rapmercials include a troupe of dancers like the Fly Girls of the TV program, In Living Color.
The Fall of Tsunami
It was announced in January, 2014 that the board of directors had dissolved the nonprofit because no one heeded the call to take then Executive Director Andrew Johnson-Schmit's place. The two year search for a new director ended. The festival did not happen in 2014.
Prescott resident Tom Von Deck made a public statement on June 16, 2014 that he had spearheaded a local effort to bring the festival back in 2015. The festival was incorporated in September as Tsunami Arts Festival. Their fiscal sponsor began accepting tax deductible donations for the festival in October. They formed a major partnership with Granite Mountain Brewing Company that same month.
The first big performing arts party celebrating the festival's return into the 2015 year was called The Balloonfish Bash. On November 8th, fire performers Pyroklectic provided a 25 minute sneak preview of the show they planned to do at Tsunami on the Square 2015. Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico, a dance troupe composed of girls between the ages of 5 and 12, made their Tsunami debut that night. Other performers included jugglers Frankie Cardamone and Heather and Ivan Marriott, Jewel of the Desert Belly Dance, Zumba Fitness with Tiger and Albert Sarko and the Jazz Workshop Band.
- The Carpetbag Brigade | http://www.carpetbagbrigade.com/
- "8th Annual Circus Camp for Kids". City of Prescott.
- "Clan Tynker - First Day of Circus Camp".
- "Flourish Before the Flood".
- Doug Cook. "Tsunami on the Square makes waves Saturday at courthouse plaza". Prescott Daily Courier.
- Elks Opera House | http://www.elksoperahouse.com/
- Japanese Butoh | butoh
- Scott Orr. "Tsunami on the Square organizer ends event 'on a high note' after 15-year run". Prescott Daily Courier.
- Scott Orr. "Group aims to revive the Tsunami". Prescott Daily Courier.
- press release. "Tsunami on the Square is Rising from the Ashes in 2015". Prescott enews.
- Scott Orr. "Balloonfish Bash heralds return of Tsunami on the Square". Prescott Daily Courier.