Magic in the mundane

You never know what will happen when circus artists get together to put on a show. But audiences can expect a delightful combination of skills, thrills and surprises in “Yes Sweet Can.”

Acrobatics, aerial choreography, dance, magic and clowning are just a few of the elements in this unusual holiday production designed for families and presented by Sweet Can Productions at The City’s Dance Mission Theater through Jan. 3.

Joanna Haigood, co-directing with Wendy Parkman, says the hourlong show creates a mesmerizing atmosphere on a human scale.

“It’s a very small, intimate circus,” Haigood says. “You’re close to the performers, and the show is driven by a wonderful narrative based on the idea that, against all odds, extraordinary things can happen.”

Unlike circus productions that employ large casts, elaborate props and special effects, “Yes Sweet Can” creates magic with a small group of performers — Beth Clarke, Natasha Kaluza, Kerri Kresinski and Matt White — using everyday objects such as brooms, tea sets and Hula-Hoops.

Working to a live soundtrack performed by composer Eric “EO” Oberthaler, the cast stays in constant motion.

One of Haigood’s favorite numbers features White and a broom.

“He does this beautiful dance with it, inspired by the great talents of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly,” she says. “It’s sort of a love story that evolves out of the simple act of sweeping up the newspapers. The broom twirls and dances. It’s amazing to watch.”

Haigood, who lives in Bolinas, has spent much of her career creating movement works. The recipient of three Izzies (Isadora Duncan Dance Award) has choreographed for companies such as Lines Contemporary Ballet and Boston Dance Umbrella.

A co-founder of Zaccho Dance Theater, she also teaches at the San Francisco Clown Conservatory.

Asked about working with dancers versus circus artists, Haigood says there are differences and some overlap.

“The skill base is very different,” she says. “The movement vocabulary is certainly very different. But in a lot of ways, it’s similar. You’re shaping movement and working with very committed people.”

According to Haigood, “Yes Sweet Can” — which takes its title from a well-used phrase in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign — combines the best of both worlds.

“This show is really about the way ordinary moments can have enormous potential,” she says. “There’s still a lot of magic in the mundane.”

IF YOU GO

Yes Sweet Can

Where: Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., San Francisco
When: 7 and 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and
Dec. 26; 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday; 4 and 6 p.m. Dec. 27 and Jan. 3; 2 p.m. Dec. 29-31; 4 and 8 p.m. Jan. 1-2; closes Jan. 3
Tickets: $15 to $20
Contact: (415) 273-4633, www.sweetcanproductions.com

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