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Circus in Wonderland

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Annuar Photography

On Tuesday May 9 around, a friend and I entered a world of a circus in wonderland and were charmed by the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee, and Tweedle Dum. They displayed amazing talents of circus artistry and guiding Alice and her cohorts through the topsy-turvy circus wonderland.

Alice and her friends battle the giant stilted Jabberwocky, outsmart foes in a giant chess game with crafty circus ingenuity, and reach new heights in a bizarre world where up is down and front is back.

The sets were simple but the whole show was a million vignettes of individual performances of different circus.  So the behind the scene staff and their choreographed movements of the padding were crucial. 

The costumes were colourful and the track to the performance was sublime, but best of all were the passion and enthusiasm displayed by these highly skilled youth.  There was humour, amazing feats of height and the magic of storytelling.  The show is a myriad of acts ranging from aerials to juggling to unicycling to tightwire to human balancing and acrobatics --- just to name a few.

Artistic Director Jay Nunns has created a card castle act where people could stack large playing cards and perform acrobatics over, under and through.

The show also included a stacking bike act where 8 people share a bike as it rides on circles on the stage. We were very impressed to find out that the many volunteers who were helping with AV, sound, costume were parents of the youth. 

The show highlights skills that have taken years to learn and refine. The 38 performers of A Circus in Wonderland are between 12 and 19 years old. But they are not alone in this big adventure: a seasoned crew of about 45 volunteers take on lead roles on the production team and a staff of 8 coaches has been working on developing and staging acts since January.

CircusWest is Vancouver’s circus leader - a comprehensive circus arts centre for all ages. Located in the historic PNE Garden Auditorium, CircusWest, a registered charity, offers children, teens, and adults an opportunity to explore circus arts in an encouraging, non- competitive environment.

CircusWest’s programs foster respect while providing an environment to learn responsible risk-taking. As a collaborative community in which everyone can develop skills and realize their potential, CircusWest is a creative space where individuals can dream big, push limits, and defy gravity all while having fun.

CircusWest will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. The circus school currently has 250 students registered in its core program, CirKids. Over those three decades, CircusWest’s staff members have seen several thousand young people who have learned circus arts out of a passion for performance.

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