SETH BLOOM & CHRISTINA GELSONE MET AT A CIRCUS IN AFGHANISTAN, were engaged while street performing in Scotland, and married in China. (Christina wore a dress made of little white balloons.)
Since becoming clown partners in 2006, they have created five shows together, competed in international circus festivals, performed in over 18 countries, juggled on Letterman, and were featured in The New York Times.
Seth is a former professional juggler who graduated from three clown schools and makes each clown mask by hand. Christina is a former professional ballerina who graduated from Princeton to become a clown.
The couple lives in Harlem in New York City.
2003: met in Afghanistan
60: water balloons per show
81: hours to build one mask
174,000: air miles in 2010
6: visits to China
7: years married
34: nails in each helmet
29: water spits per show
23: kilos for each show suitcase
5: flights of stairs in NYC to carry props up and down
SETH AND CHRISTINA REALLY DID MEET IN AFGHANISTAN, a country they have returned to almost every year since 2003. Upon meeting each other, they knew they had similar artistic goals, and wanted to try what very few have succeeded at: half-mask shows that are truly funny, not historical recreations. This led to the development of Madame and Monsieur, a fast-paced, non-verbal mask comedy developed on the street, using the same conditions that commedia dell'arte professionals had worked in centuries before.
Their second show was a classic acrobatic and juggling street show, but injuries forced them to create a show with no acrobatics. The result was Waterbombs!, a ferociously hilarious water balloon gladiator show unlike any other performance played on the street.
Because their shows have no words, Seth and Christina have performed together in over 18 countries.
They continue to teach social circus in post-conflict zones, and have remained dedicated to projects in Afghanistan with the Mobile Mini Circus for Children. In 2010, they also piloted a program in Egypt with Plan International and Children's Cooperative.
After years of traveling and working together, it was Seth who figured out they should spend the rest of their lives together. In 2007, they married while performing in China. Christina wore a dress made entirely of balloons
The New York Times profiled them in 2009, in an article and video that tells the whole story.
SETH BLOOM HAND-BUILDS THE MASKS THEY use in their shows. He grew up around the world, and his frequent travels slowly etch their way into his masks. As a teen he was an avid juggler, but now you will more likely see his hereditary 'gift' taught to him by his father in a swimming pool - 5 streams of water spouting at one time from his teeth. In 2003, his mother was working in Afghanistan and met the founders of a children's circus who were looking for a circus coach. A few months later, Seth was on his way, beginning an adventure that continues to this day, creating performances with visual theater that carry social messages to Afghan rural areas that are often illiterate. To date, that circus organization (Mobile Mini Circus for Children) has performed for over 1 million people in Afghanistan.
Seth, a graduate from Ringling Bros. Clown College, went on to study Lecoq theater technique in London. With fellow grads, Seth co-founded Split Knuckle Theater, and the 5-star company is continually creating visually arresting and original physical theater.
The Acrobuffos, however, took longer to make. Seth originally met Christina his first year in Afghanistan, and they knew immediately they wanted to work together. Not many performers have a skill set of mask-playing, street performing, clowning, juggling, and acrobatics. Four years later, finally living on the same continent, they started their first experiment, an attempt to find out if half-mask comedy could be truly funny on the street.
Seth is a graduate of Wesleyan University ('00), Ringling ('93), Dell'Arte ('97,) LISPA (MFA '05) and has performed in 22 countries.
CHRISTINA GELSONE IS A NON-VERBAL COMEDIAN and an eager eater. World traveling has always been a part of her career (she has performed in over 2 dozen countries), but it is still unknown whether she eats in order to perform, or performs in order to eat. Once-upon-a-time a professional ballet dancer, it wasn't until she left her home state of Texas for college in New Jersey and started rock-climbing that she found her muscular body was truly suited for acrobatics - stunts, to be more accurate. In 2001, she perfected the Human Tightrope, allowing her to hold men of 300 pounds (136 kilos) on her stomach, or one jump-roping woman.
It was while performing with Bond Street Theater, a company that works in refugee camps and war-torn zones, and traveling to interesting corners of the globe like Albania, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, that she found her other passion, history. Her bookshelves continue to grow with non-fiction at each new country. Often compelled to share factoids on any subject, she co-founded Fool's Academy, activating school curriculum through clowning. In 2003, she was working in Afghanistan and eating kabuli pilau with her hands when she met Seth and found someone else crazy enough to want to street-perform masks in a 16th century style. It wasn't until 4 years later that they finally lived on the same continent, stood on each other's shoulders, and began eating their way around the world.
Christina is a graduate of Princeton University ('96) and Dell' Arte ('98) and is a former faculty member of Adelphi University. She has performed in 28 countries.