Make it work |

Make it work

Clara Lange and Frances Bell work on some of their fashions for Cirque d'Sopris after school.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You go...

Who: Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities

What: Cirque d’Sopris fashion show

When: 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday

Where: Roaring Fork High School auditorium

How Much: $10 for adults and $5 for youth, available at or at the door

Best friends Clara Lange, 9, and Frances Bell, 8, plan on competing on “Project Runway” someday. The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) is providing them with a pretty good warm-up in its annual Cirque d’Sopris fashion show.

Cirque d’Sopris is the kids version of the CCAH’s Green is the New Black fashion show, said CCAH Executive Director Amy Kimberly.

“Green is the New Black is not a kids show, per se, and so many kids were inspired by it,” she said. “So we felt we needed to give them the opportunity to put on their own show and create their own designs.”

In addition to kids designing, creating and modeling their fashions, Cirque d’Sopris will include other performance elements, like a routine from the martial arts students at Rising Crane. In all, about 60 kids are involved.

Lange and Bell signed up for the Cirque d’Sopris fashion class, which lasts a few months and teaches kids how to design and create their own clothing. Bell’s mother, Annie Bell, said she’s amazed at all her daughter has learned.

“Frances knows how to do a buttonhole; she knows how to do a zipper,” Annie Bell said. “These are things that I don’t know how to do. I’m pretty impressed that my 8-year-old can now put on a zipper.”

Annie Bell said in addition to the practical sewing skills her daughter has learned, she thinks Frances has learned lessons that can translate into other facets of her life.

“I think creativity is huge,” she said. “I love the idea that she thinks about how to take something, pull it apart, combine it with other items and put it back together into something completely new and different. And they get a sense of nontraditional materials and thinking outside the box.”

The fashion classes and the Cirque d’Sopris fashion show emphasize “upcycling” material, or using clothing that has been donated to rework it into a new piece. A group of kids from Crystal River Elementary School are also creating clothing out of duct tape.

After the clothing is made, the show comes together with the help of director Marty Durlin. She said the kids come up with routines, and she put them in an order that creates a logical shape for the show. Durlin said Cirque d’Sopris is a great event because it offers a variety of creative outlets for young people.

“All these kids are enjoying performing, so it’s really fun to see them up there liking to be on stage and strutting their stuff,” she said.

Annie Bell said her daughter and Lange have loved the experience so much that she’s looking into setting up private classes with their teacher, Robin Paz.

“She and Clara talk about this incessantly and are so inspired,” she said. “It’s been worth every single penny.”

In addition to finding a creative outlet for her daughter, Annie Bell said she’s happy to see Frances making friends outside of school.

“The thing I really love about it is it’s put her into the Carbondale community, so she has a whole new group of friends that she sees on the weekends outside of her Sopris Elementary friends, which is kind of fun,” she said.

Lange and Frances Bell have, combined, five pieces in the show. But this is just the beginning for these girls.

“I’ve learned so many things from just this one class,” Lange said. “Me and her watch ‘Project Runway,’ and we learn things from that, too.”

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