This week, the City of St. John’s will spring to life in spectacular fashion when the St. John’s International CircusFest rolls into town. Hosted by the Wonderbolt Circus, the second edition of the festival takes place from September 26-29 and will see local, national and international circus performers and troupes come together to wow the crowd. Featuring acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, clowns, music and dance, in addition to workshops, professional development sessions, industry panels and more, there’s truly something for everyone.
Beni Malone, Artistic Director of Wonderbolt, says last year’s festival was a smashing success, and he hopes that this year’s will be even better. One of the highlights this year is “Patinoire” (starring Patrick Léonard of Montreal’s 7 Fingers Circus), which blends circus, theatre, dance and music in a show that’s sure to stay with you after the curtain has closed.
“That’s just going to be amazing. Absolutely mind blowing,” Malone says.
“Suhde,” a family show from Finland featuring international circus stars Kate and Pasi, is also not to be missed. And on September 28 at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall, artists from the National Circus School and others will take to the stage accompanied by Newfoundland’s own Lady Cove Choir and the Atlantic String Quartet in a melodic and moving event.
“We try to do a lot of community involvement that way, to help grow circus in this community,” says Anahareo Doelle, Co-producer of the St. John’s International CircusFest.
For those interested in the business side of circus, the panels “Expanding Circus in Canada and Beyond” and “The Circus Artist as an Agent of Social Change,” featuring panelists from here and away, will prove enlightening. As well this year, in concert with the festival, the Canada Council for the Arts will hold an information session on grants and funding programs for artists and arts groups/organizations.
It takes many hands to make an event of this magnitude come together – from the performers themselves and the audience members who come out to see them, to the sponsors and other supporters. Of course, having a comfortable place to rest and unwind is imperative for the 72 visiting artists from across Canada, Finland and beyond coming to participate in the event. Doelle says they are fortunate to have Homeport Hotel, Hometel on Signal Hill, the Murray Premises Hotel, and Leaside Manor on board as wonderful accommodation partners.
Leaside’s owner Dion Finlay says the decision to support this event came easily. Leaside Group tries to get involved with the community by supporting various initiatives and often, he says, they look towards their staff to see what’s important to them. Last year, a portion of their Compton House property was converted into a new business called Riverside Therapeutics, an orthopaedic and sports injury clinic. When one of their principal physiotherapists, Eric Lamme (who previously worked with Cirque du Soleil), expressed interest in supporting CircusFest, Finlay jumped on board.
“I was encouraged by what they were doing. It was a new idea, it was something new for the city, and something that we hadn’t been involved in before,” Finlay says.
With the addition of Riverside Therapeutics to the Leaside brand, the partnership between Leaside and CircusFest seemed a natural fit. In addition to Leaside offering up a number of rooms and meeting/event space for visiting performers, Finlay says if any of them become injured and require physiotherapy during the festival, Lamme will treat them as quickly as possible. Lamme will also be backstage during the show at the Arts and Culture Centre in case his services are needed.
“We really dug deep to see how we could help out. We’ve been involved with the planning a little bit…we’re excited to see it all coming together,” Finlay says.
“It’s just nice to be involved, and when you see people like Beni putting their heart and soul into something like this…it’s a pretty unique thing that they’re doing for the city.”