PRESCOTT - Tsunami on the Square brings an elaborate showcase of circus art and cultural performances each June to the courthouse plaza. This year, it's going to be bigger than ever.
Arizona's annual three-day festival begins Friday evening and continues through Sunday, with continuous eclectic entertainment at the courthouse plaza, and for the first time, additional events at off-plaza locations.
"It's grown tremendously. Every year it gets more popular," said Susan DeFreitas, the festival's executive director.
New attractions this year include a dance performance along Granite Creek, a STOMP-inspired dance act and Tsunami Tsunday - a family- oriented circus arts show at the Prescott Public Library.
"Flourish Before the Flood," is a site-specific, dance-oriented performance Friday evening at the side of Granite Creek, where the audience will follow performers along the Greenway.
Tsunami founder Jay Ruby, a performance artist, introduced the show in 2000.
"In my opinion, it brings out some of the magic in nature that we all kind of saw when we were children - performers interacting in this natural setting right downtown," DeFrietas said.
Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Prescott Creeks Preservation Association.
The Prescott Public Library helped expand the festival this year, playing host to Clan Tynker - a New Mexico-based circus arts performance group made up of brothers and sisters who mix juggling, magic, stilt-walking and comedy to entertain young children.
Show organizers will reserve preferred seating for kids 12 and younger.
The Raven Café, 142 N. Cortez St., will play host to a showcase of Tsumani performers at 8:30 p.m. Friday night, featuring Troupe Salamat (belly dance), the Dambe Project (African drum and dance) and Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Pre- Columbian music of the Americas).
This year the festival debuts "Junk Funk," a percussive dance show by Step Raptis, a central Arizona-based performance artist. Raptis utilizes found objects for percussion, movement and comedy reminiscent of the show STOMP, which has toured nationally for years.
DeFreitas said she is excited to have the performance group ArcheDream for Humankind from Pennsylvania. The dance troupe combines elaborate costume designs with UV-sensitive paint under black light, illustrating passage- of-life themes set to electronic music.
"It catches the attention of young people, but it's appreciated by all ages because it's so unique," DeFreitas said.
ArcheDream's "Deep Blue" opens with a shaman setting the stage for a themed piece depicting the relationship between humans and the earth's elements.
Tucson-based pyrotechnics theater group Flam Chen closes Saturday's performances with a debut of its martial arts-inspired show "Kaboom," described by Flam Chen choreographer Paul Weir as a "live, multi-media, video game, fire, circus show."
Flam Chen comprises nine performers along with Bark Bark Bark - a DJ who mixes electronica with orchestrated video effects.
Weir said the show mixes fire dancing with music and digital effects. "It's like flaming Mortal Kombat," he said. "I think it's going to go over really well. The kids are going to freak out because of the video game aspect of it."
This year's Tsunami theme is "The Ocean Blue," with the idea of celebrating the original premise of the festival with added inspiration from Cirque du Soleil and The Blue Man Group.
"We wanted to emphasize that this is an arts festival, the angle being art, so we chose this kind of fun, abstract, visual theme with a lot of things being blue. And we've had a lot of fun with that," DeFreitas said.