ABSFest is proud to offer Burlesque, Circus and Business Workshops! Open to all levels!
Dive on in.
EDUCATION is an essential component of ABSfest.
Our classes are amazingly priced at $40 advance/$50 day of.

"Half as Old as Time" The Abridged History of Sideshow is our gift to the community - it’s FREE!


MAY 25, 2024

The Orange Peel
101 Biltmore Ave,
Asheville, NC 28801

Save $5 by signing up for two workshops!

Pick your two:
Workshop Participant Name:

Intro to Whip & Tricks

with Leah Orleans

The Main Room

2024 Whip Workshop! My name is:

Learn the fine art of whip-cracking for the stage: technique, basic cracks and choreography. We’ve hosted this 90-minute workshop before at ABSFest, and it was EPIC good fun. Leah is the amazing woman behind Tiny Girl Big Show, performing whip, contortion and clowning across the US and abroad. 

You WILL hit yourself by accident in this workshop, so safety glasses, earplugs and a sense of humor are HIGHLY recommended. Some loaner whips will be provided. For folks wanting to bring their own, we can recommend DaKitty Budget Hybrid Whips as a quality source.

Legendary Songwriting

with Charming Disaster

Community Room

Songwriting Workshop Participant Name:

This 90-minute interactive songwriting workshop is geared toward both beginner and experienced songwriters. It will be fun and low-stakes, but also give you practical tools you can use in your own creative practice.

Together we will explore tools, tricks and techniques for generating inspiration, crafting lyrics, and working through creative blocks, including: songwriting prompts, mind-mapping exercises, what are the right questions to ask when you feel stuck, and more. We’ll do exercises and write a short song together to put these approaches into practice. 

Badass Shimmies for Every Body

with Nadira

Main Room

Shimmy Workshop Participant Name:

Open to all levels and styles, this 90-minute class will warm you up, stretch you out, and lead you down the path to 10 exquisite shimmies to put in your pocket. Take your bump and grind to the next level as you build up to show-stopping shaking, all while having a riotously good time. Nadira has been stunning audiences with her moving performances for 20 years, and has been a pillar of ABSFest’s quest to be a festival of education, inclusivity and joy.

Free Lecture

Half as Old as Time:
The Abridged History of Sideshow

with James Taylor, America's Sideshow Historian

Community Room

Show writer William Lindsay Gresham described the carnival as “a canvas city, rose red and by tradition half as old as time.” Novelty & variety entertainment doesn’t live entirely under canvas, of course. But as the man who’s been called “the world’s foremost authority on sideshow,” James Taylor contends it’s the novelty & variety business that’s the oldest form of amusement and the real show biz. Ranging widely (and wildly) over the past few centuries – and into tomorrow – Taylor hits the bases other show historians ignore, from circus and carnival, dime museums and sideshows, burlesque and world’s fair shows and all the business in between. With over four decades in the entertainment business – over half of which has been in “the other show biz” of novelty & variety – Taylor shows why it’s the business “you’ll remember till the longest day ya live.”