Fair warning: Broad Street to close for a swinging time

Every year, Lorie Phillis does one scary thing. This year, she flew on a trapeze over a vacant lot on Broad Street. The scary part, she says, is letting go.

“Letting go of the platform, having them hold you, and all of a sudden you’re in the sky,” said Phillis, breathless from the experience. “It’s amazing. It’s amazing.”

A circus arts company called Fly City has been offering trapeze classes in a vacant lot on Broad Street as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. But the coupe de grace of aerial acrobatics is a half-block away, where a tower is rising. Members of a French dance company, La Compaigne Transe Express, will dangle from it like chandelier crystals at sunset on Saturday.

The aerial dance performance is the centerpiece of the daylong street fair that has closed Broad Street from City Hall to the Kimmel Center. It will feature several stages, dozens of French-inspired vendors, and a temporary garden with surprising street performers.

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“Most fountains in city parks have a statue representing a sea captain or something,” said production manager Jay Wahl. “Our statue is a living performer, performing a dance in water all day. You know, rather than just have a mime, we went further and made her a fountain.”

The fair will take place Saturday. The street will be closed to traffic from 1 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Sunday, the longest length of time Broad Street has been closed in recent memory.

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