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Cirque Du Soleil is coming back to Fairfax next month.

The theatrical aerobatic spectacle is performing eight shows at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena from May 17-25.

This year’s production, Corteo, which translates to “procession” in Italian, centers on a clown who imagines his own funeral as a carnival-like spectacle, with “caring angels” watching over quietly, according to a press release.

Below is the performance schedule.

  • Friday, May, 17 at 7 p.m.
  •  Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 25 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $60 to $170.

More below from the press release.

Corteo, the most enchanting arena production from Cirque du Soleil is back in North America and heading to Fairfax, Virginia set to charm audiences for the very first time. This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal in April 2005. Since its creation, the show has amazed over 10 million spectators, in 22 countries, on 4 continents. Corteo will be presented at the Eagle Bank Arena for eight shows only from May 17th through May 25th, 2024.

For downloadable Press Kit, Photos, Trailer & B-Roll Videos in various formats, click here.

Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show combines the actor’s passion with the acrobat’s grace and power to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy, and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth. The clown pictures his funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic, and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music turns lyrical and playful carrying Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.

In a Cirque du Soleil first, the stage is central in the arena. It divides the venue, with each half of the audience facing the other half, giving a unique perspective not only of the show but also a performer’s eye view of the audience. An atmosphere like never seen before in Cirque du Soleil arena shows. The set curtains, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the central curtains, which were hand-painted, give a grandiose feel to the stage. This sets the tone for the poetry of Corteo.


Tickets for Corteo in Fairfax are available online exclusively to Club Cirque members starting today at 10 am.

For free subscription, visit

General on-sale starts on December 11th at

Performance Schedule

● Friday 05/17 at 7pm
● Saturday 05/18 at 3pm & 7pm
● Sunday 05/19 at 1pm
● Thursday 05/23 + Friday 05/24 at 7pm
● Saturday 05/25 at 3pm & 7pm

George Mason University has been exploring plans to expand its West Campus off of Braddock Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) It has not been a great week for plans to bring professional sports teams to Northern Virginia.

Just a day after negotiations for a Washington Wizards and Capitals arena in Alexandria officially fell through, George Mason University has announced that it’s no longer planning to build a joint baseball and cricket stadium in Fairfax for the Washington Freedom.

“After hard work and due diligence from the team at Mason, we have concluded that this opportunity does not meet the strategic objectives and interests of our campus and community and the Washington Freedom,” GMU President Gregory Washington said in a statement. “We appreciate the continued feedback and dialogue with leaders across the Commonwealth and with the local community.”

The decision to part ways was mutual, according to a statement from the Washington Freedom, which indicated that it’s still looking to build a stadium somewhere in the D.C. area.

“While we have decided to go in a different direction, we are appreciative of the dialogue and partnership with GMU,” the team said. “We remain committed to working with the broader DMV community to grow the sport of Cricket in the region and to build a multipurpose stadium that will be the future home of the Washington Freedom.”

The university first announced in 2022 that it was partnering with Major League Cricket and Washington Freedom owner Sanjay Govil to study the feasibility of a multi-purpose facility at its West Campus that could host professional cricket matches and college baseball games.

GMU’s governor-appointed Board of Visitors gave university administrators the green light in January to start negotiating a ground lease for the prospective stadium site, which encompass 15 acres between Braddock Road and Campus Drive.

Though the project was still in the planning phase, Mason staff and Govil said at a virtual town hall on Jan. 29 that they hoped to finish construction on a temporary facility that could seat 7,000 to 10,000 spectators by 2025.

As the proposal gained more attention, residents of the area around GMU’s campus began to organize opposition, raising concerns about the potential traffic and environmental impacts, noise and light pollution, and a process they perceived as lacking in transparency.

In a Feb. 7 letter to elected officials, the GMU Board of Visitors and the GMU president’s council, a group of neighborhood associations working together as the GMU Braddock Road Adjacent Community Coalition called for a halt in the stadium project “until a thorough and proper evaluation can be accomplished with all affected parties in attendance.”

“While we recognize change is necessary it also needs to be targeted and sized appropriately to address known university problems with consideration of adjacent neighborhood concerns paramount,” the coalition wrote. “The creation of a commercial zone that benefits some and punishes others on state supported property is an egregious abuse of positional power.” Read More

Comedian Nate Bargatze will bring his stand-up show to George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena tonight (photo by Craig Hunter Ross)

Friday night’s performance by comedian Nate Bargatze is expected to draw the largest crowd ever to EagleBank Arena on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University, according to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which operates the arena.

Over 10,400 tickets have been sold for the event, which would break the arena’s record of 10,356 patrons for a concert by Phish on Oct. 8, 1994, Monumental said in a news release. The arena, originally known as the Patriot Center, opened in 1984.

Because of the expected large crowd, GMU and Monumental officials are advising ticketholders to allow extra travel time and to be aware of limited parking near the arena. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, whose district includes the area around GMU’s Fairfax campus, warned community members on social media to expect “an increased volume of traffic” tonight.

Over 14,300 fans attended Bargatze’s show at Capital One Arena in downtown Washington on Thursday night, Monumental said in a news release.

“We predicted a spike in ticket sales due to Nate Bargatze’s overwhelming popularity with fans in our region and he delivered,” said Eric Cuthbertson, general manager of EagleBank Arena. “The unique opportunity to have a show play both in D.C. and Fairfax on back-to-back nights is exciting.”

EagleBank Arena’s highest grossing event was on Sept. 2, 2023, when Mexican Latin pop group RBD generated over $1.9 million in gross ticket sales.

Bargatze is currently on his The Be Funny Tour.

This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner and republished with permission. The headline was tweaked and Supervisor James Walkinshaw’s tweet added by FFXnow. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.

The gaming convention GAMEmason is set to return to George Mason University’s Fairfax campus (photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services)

(Updated at 2:35 p.m. on 2/14/2024) A two-day gaming convention will take over George Mason University’s Fairfax campus this month.

Organized by GMU’s student involvement office, game design program and GMU Esports, GAMEmason 2014 will take place on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Drive).

The event will feature guest speakers from Bethesda Game Studios, Monument Sports Entertainment, and faculty and staff. Other attractions include free arcade games, tabletop and console gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality demonstrations, an artist alley featuring the work of artists and students, and gaming industry vendors.

Here’s more from GMU, breaking down the program:

On Friday, February 23, the day-long events will lead up to keynote speaker, voice actress and Guinness World Records holder for “Most Prolific Video Game Voice Actor (female)” Jennifer Hale. The morning begins with educational sessions including “Game without Pain and Work without Strain” featuring co-founder of One Health Point (1HP) Dr. Caitlin McGee, followed by voice actor Wes Johnson in “The Many Worlds of Voice Acting.” Next, Mason Associate Professor in Computer Game Design Greg Grimsby leads a discussion entitled “Developing Board Games” and after, Vice President of Esports at Monumental Sports & Entertainment Andrew McNeill leads “Journey through Esports, Hosting Large Events and the Esports Professional Scene.” The evening begins with “Getting a Job in the Game Industry,” led by Associate Producer at Bethesda Game Studios Nathan Hahn.

On Saturday, February 24, varsity level collegiate Esports teams from across the region will compete in tournaments. Games featured in the tournament will include Rocket League, League of Legends, Overwatch 2, Valorant, and Super Smash Brothers crew battles. GAMEmason attendees will be able to watch the teams as they compete live on the Center for the Arts stage. In addition to George Mason University, participating schools include James Madison University, Ohio University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Saint Louis University, Shenandoah University, Syracuse University, [Northern Virginia Community College], Virginia Tech, Virginia Wesleyan University, Wake Forest University, and William and Mary University.

(Correction: GMU included a “University of Northern Virginia” among the schools participating in the esports tournament. Once based in Annandale, that university has been defunct since 2013. A GMU spokesperson confirmed Northern Virginia Community College was the intended reference.) 

The convention is $20 for Friday passes and $15 for Saturday. Attendees must be at least 16 years old, and those aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by an adult. The event is free for GMU students, faculty and staff.

The event kicked off in 2009.

“Unique events such as these connect Mason students and the public with professionals in the field, and offer innovative opportunities for students to learn, grow, and create community during their time at Mason,” a university spokesperson told FFXnow.

Aerial view of GMU’s Fairfax Campus with proposed multi-purpose ballpark location outlined in red (via George Mason University)

George Mason University is poised to complete the construction of a functional cricket field at its Fairfax campus by the end of this summer and a new ballpark by 2025.

During a virtual town hall meeting on Monday (Jan. 29), GMU staff and Sanjay Govil, owner of the Washington Freedom cricket team and a founding investor in Major League Cricket (MLC), outlined the project and listened to feedback from local stakeholders.

The project is still in the planning phase, but GMU’s governor-appointed Board of Visitors gave the university the green light last month to start talks with Washington Freedom about a ground lease for a multi-purpose ballpark.

“I think it’s a great win-win situation in terms of giving us what cricket has to offer and giving GMU what it needs for a state-of-the-art baseball facility,” Govil said during the town hall.

As part of a multi-year plan to redevelop and enhance its three main campuses in Fairfax, Manassas and Arlington, GMU proposed consolidating the athletic facilities on its 190-acre Fairfax West Campus, which is northwest of the Ox Road and Braddock Road intersection and currently houses the GMU Field House, several fields and courts.

In November 2022, Mason announced it would collaborate with MLC to study the possibility of a multi-purpose facility that could host international-level cricket games and the university’s baseball team.

Marvin Lewis, assistant vice president and athletics director at GMU, said the athletic facilities on the west campus are outdated and lack essential stadium features like a video board and lights that he noted are common at peer institutions.

“They have video boards, they have lights, and so it makes it even harder to recruit and compete at a high level without those amenities at our ballpark,” Lewis said.

Because GMU is a relatively young institution, the athletics department doesn’t have the “donor capacity” to raise the funds needed to upgrade its facilities, including the new multi-purpose stadium, he added.

“So, to make improvements, we have to think creatively and utilize partners in the community to help us meet our strategic objectives,” Lewis said.

As part of its agreement with GMU, Govil said Washington Freedom would fully fund the new stadium’s construction.

According to a presentation shared by the university, the proposed stadium will accommodate 7,000 to 10,000 spectators on a 15-acre site between Braddock Road and Campus Drive, adjacent to the parking lot.

The possibility of thousands of new spectators traveling to watch cricket matches and baseball games alarmed many town hall attendees, who expressed concerns about traffic and questioned the university’s approach. Read More

AC Milan, the Italian soccer club, is opening a Virginia youth training academy in Tysons (courtesy AC Milan)

A top-tier Italian soccer club is making a play for Tysons.

AC Milan, which claims to be the “most popular Italian football brand” in the U.S., announced last month that it has chosen Fairfax County as the site of its first youth training academy in North America.

Offering programs for kids aged 5 to 17, AC Milan Academy Virginia will launch next spring at 8300 Boone Blvd, Suite 500.

“AC Milan Academy Virginia is another piece in the consolidation process of the AC Milan brand on a global level,” Maikel Oettle, the club’s chief commercial officer, said. “The launch of the AC Milan Academy project in the US territory attests to our commitment and our contribution to the promotion of football in North America, through which we aim to export the values of AC Milan worldwide.”

Founded in 1899 by some Englishmen living in Italy, Associazione Calcio Milan operates 16 training academies in Europe and Asia. It made its first foray into North America this summer with a series of junior camps in Canada.

To introduce itself to the area, the club is bringing a junior camp for kids aged 6 to 17 to George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. Registration is currently open for the camp, which is aimed at potential Academy players and will take place from Dec. 6-9.

Led by Davide Battistini, who has also served as head coach at the Vietnam and Saudi Arabia academies, the Virginia academy will have programs for U6 (ages 5-6) through U18 (ages 17-18). Participants will work with both specialized professionals and local technical staff who will support their “personal and sporting growth,” the club said.

The academy’s creation stems from a partnership between AC Milan and Black & Red Pumas, which is named after the club’s colors and top sponsor. Vienna resident Dario Scatena founded the company as an AC Milan fan.

“I am very pleased with this collaboration that will bring the colours and values of AC Milan and Italian traditions to the American territory,” Scatena, the CEO of Black & Red Pumas, said. “I am very confident that the excellence and the AC Milan Method will bring great benefits, firstly for the young players in their personal growth, and then for American soccer. This is a family for me, and I look forward to both girls and boys feeling part of this great family and growing in every aspect with its values.”


Sugar plum fairies are getting ready to descend on Fairfax County, which will host multiple productions of Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” this holiday season.

The 131-year-old ballet, now a Christmastime tradition, will first waltz into Tysons, with two shows at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Produced by Talmi Entertainment with dancers from around the world, NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet is returning to the concert hall’s main theater as part of its 31st annual North American tour. Doors will open an hour before the 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. showtimes.

“We’re the only nationally touring Nutcracker production, so we strive to top ourselves each year,” Talmi Entertainment Executive Producer Dan Talmi said in a press release. “There is a sense of pride and responsibility when it comes to this show. It has become a holiday tradition in households across the country and our team works year round to give audiences the best of everything.”

Starring Ukrainian ballerinas Karyna Shatkovskaya and Elena Pechenyuk as Clara, the production deviates in its second act by shifting the setting from the usual Land of Sweets to a Land of Peace and Harmony “where there are no wars and no children suffer.” Clara and the Nutcracker Prince are guided through the land by two dancers in the unique acro-ballet adagio “Doves of Peace.”

Other notable elements include marionettes and animal puppets, a hand-crafted Christmas tree that grows up to 100 feet tall, and the introduction of a Herald character that represents “the spirit of the forest.”

For those interested in a more local production, Capital One Hall will also host the Dance Academy of Virginia’s inaugural performance of “The Nutcracker Sweet” in The Vault at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.

In addition, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) and Fairfax Ballet Company will team up once again to present “The Nutcracker” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Drive) in Fairfax.

Scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17, the production is one of the few in the D.C. area with live music by a full orchestra, according to the FSO. This iteration — the seventh that the orchestra and ballet company have brought to GMU — will feature New York City Ballet members Emily Kikta and Aarón Sanz as guest soloists.

“Our unique production has become a cherished tradition of the season,” FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr said in a statement. “Audiences delight in the incredible dancers on stage, while Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music is performed live by our orchestra musicians. The dance, live music, plus the stunning, digital scenery creates a winter wonderland in a magical production that’s perfect for the entire family.”

Stressed-looking woman looks at laptop (via Elisa Ventur/Unsplash)

The mental health crisis is costing the Northern Virginia region $8 billion a year in unrealized economic output, according to a new report from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

The report from the foundation’s research arm, Insight Region, found that the economic loss caused by mental health has quadrupled since 2019, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020.

In 2019, worker mental health issues cost the region about 1% in productivity – the equivalent of $2.1 billion – in potential gross regional product (GRP). About 11% of working adults were experiencing mild anxiety or depression in that timeframe.

However, during the pandemic, more than half of all workers reported levels of anxiety or depression. As of May 2023, that statistic held with 53% of the workforce struggling.

The elevated levels of mental health needs caused productivity losses to increase by 2.1 percentage points – or over $8 billion in potential GRP each year, according to the report.

Millions of Americans exited the workforce over the last three years, and one in four blamed their departure on mental health, the report says. That lost employment negatively impacts more than just the worker and their family.

“It also affects team members who must compensate for the lost output; employers who bear the cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new staff; and the local economy in unrealized gross regional product,” the report said.

Most workers with anxiety and depression stay on the job, meaning some of the lost productivity can be attributed to absenteeism and presenteeism – or an employee who is technically on the job but not engaged. This lack of engagement can often result in procrastination and missed deadlines.

Overall, for every worker with a mental health need, their team can expect total productivity to decline by 5% to 13%, or two to five lost hours in a 40-hour work week, according to the report.

“These behaviors can lead to a precipitous decline in productivity, at rates far higher than other conditions,” the report said.

The Community Foundation collaborated on the research with George Mason University. Keith Waters, assistant director at the university’s Center for Regional Analysis, presented the findings [earlier this month] during an event at the foundation’s headquarters in Fairfax.

Waters said the research showed that as mental health issues become more severe, so do productivity losses.

“As you go from sort of no mental health issues to more severe mental health issues, your productivity losses become more severe, you miss work more and then your presenteeism issues become more severe,” he added. Read More

George Mason University (file photo)

As Virginia Commonwealth University rolls out a program that grants admission to any high school senior with a certain GPA, it’s the latest school to face challenges ensuring its facilities and infrastructure can keep up with the influx of students.

VCU, along with George Mason University and at least four other Virginia universities, have begun offering guaranteed admissions to address declining enrollment numbers and help bolster populations of underrepresented students.

“While this is launching as a pilot program, we do expect an increase in admissions,” said Michael Porter, a spokesman for VCU. “Short term, we are working across the university to anticipate and address housing needs, including how we allocate residence hall space.”

Virginia public universities previously offered guaranteed admission to students who completed two years of study in the Virginia Community College System and had a certain GPA. But schools are increasingly eyeing more expansive programs that target high school students.

Enrollment at Virginia’s public colleges and universities has steadily declined overall to a low of 368,174 students in the fall of 2021 from 409,075 in 2012, according to data collected by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the coordinating body for the state’s colleges and universities.

There have been some rebounds. The enrollment totals rose to 369,813 in fall 2022. And since the pandemic, some schools have seen enrollment increases, with student bodies growing at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, George Mason University, William & Mary and Norfolk State University between the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2022, according to data collected by SCHEV. But that growth hasn’t been uniform: VCU lost approximately 1,000 students during the same period.

Universities and colleges “know the demographics, they know what’s happening, and so they’re making adjustments based on what they think they need to do to maintain their enrollments or if they’re looking to grow,” said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for SCHEV.

Guaranteed admission requirements

Under VCU’s new program, first-year freshman applicants who are among the top 10% of their high school graduating class and have at least a 3.5 GPA will automatically qualify for admission, although some programs, such as arts and engineering, have major-specific requirements.

“The guaranteed university admission program will easily connect top-performing high school graduates with a nationally ranked major research university,” said Hernan Bucheli, an interim vice president with VCU. “And this program will have a positive impact on Virginia’s economy because we know that our talented graduates are career-ready and a majority stay here in Virginia.”

Other four-year public institutions, including George Mason, Radford University, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Virginia Military Institute, offer similar admissions programs. Old Dominion University is working on a similar offering but has not finalized the details, according to school spokeswoman Kenya Godette. Read More

James Rossant’s work is on display at George Mason University through June 30 (courtesy Fenwick Library)

The work of Reston’s master planner James Rossant is on display at George Mason University through June 30.

The exhibit, “Cities and Memory: The Visionary Architecture of James Rossant with Poetry by Juliette Rossant,” displays the work of Rossant alongside poems that reflect on his art by his daughter, Juliette Rossant.

Rossant, who died in 2009, was an architect involved in the New Towns movements in the U.S., which sought to address issues related to urban overcrowding, air pollution and decay.

Rossant and his partner, William Conklin, developed the master plan for Reston in the early 1960s in an effort to create a suburban community that harmonized with urban amenities in park-like settings, according to GMU.

“Rossant’s plan proposed an organic mix of housing types and densities, green spaces, public sculpture, and mixed-use buildings, along with cultural facilities, schools, and churches,” the exhibit organizers said in a press release. “He believed that architecture could — should — be both beautiful and serve to build a better society.”

The exhibit features work from 1972 to 2009. Here’s more from the university on the exhibit:

The artworks in this exhibit range from 1972 to 2008 and give us insight into Rossant’s prodigious imagination and the fantastical processes that underpin his subsequent architectural creations. His subjects vary widely, from modernist portraits to imaginary cities to pastoral landscapes. Uniting them is Rossant’s deep commitment to realizing utopian ideals and visions. As described by architectural critic Joseph Giovannini, James Rossant’s drawings “fly off the grid, off the wagon of rationality, into a surrealism and humor of imagination liberated from the right angle and architectural propriety. […] These are temperamentally joyous drawings, propelled by curiosity and a spirit of exploration.”

His daughter’s poems act as responses to her father’s paintings. Her book — “Planet of the Blue Flowers” — will be published later this year by Finishing Line Press.

The work will be on display in Mason’s Fenwick Gallery during Fenwick Library’s business hours. The Conklin Rossant firm donated the Reston architect’s work to the University’s Special Collections Research Center.


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