It was an electric spectacle to behold at the Toronto International Circus Festival. Over the long Victoria Day weekend, clowns, acrobats, and jugglers were out basking in the sunny, clear blue skies to entertain thousands of visitors. Ever since the first attested circus began parading through the streets of Rome in the 14th century, today this ‘Come One Come All’ show still resonates with young and old alike.
After so many centuries, the circus still holds a place in our hearts and minds. Why does it captivate us so? Perhaps it is because it exploits our curiosity as it casts a mystic spell of wonderment over us. Upon entry into a circus arena, surrealism and escapism trump logic and reasoning; and, for a brief moment we abandon our regimented and predictable lives. Once we let go of our inhibitions, we can be dazzled with fire breathers, contortionists, and ruby nosed jokesters.
As the adults cozied up to nostalgic visions of their childhood, their sons and daughters enjoyed their time at Harbourfront Centre with many activities to keep them occupied; from circus academy training, sword balloons, hula hoop competitions, shadow puppet shows, clownification stations, to magicians conjuring spells, everyone present had the intentions of spreading merriment and laughter throughout the large wandering crowds.
It was delightful to see so many wide eyed faces completely entranced by all of the performers – from nail biting moments where jugglers tossed oranges and chainsaws together to a man on an 8-foot-high unicycle tossing machetes in the air, it was apparent that there would be no shortage of thrills and excitement.
The day capped off with The Big Show on the WestJet Stage. Performers from Zero Gravity Circus were out in full force to show off their talents. Some of the highlights included female acrobats whose appearance was akin to doves flying in the sky; they were manipulating and playing with silks with grace and poise. Another was the trapeze artist whose flexibility on a single suspended bar was something to be admired and appreciated. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a circus show if it weren’t for a comedian who could balance a stepladder on his nose or ride the smallest bicycle known to man. With a weekend of chuckles and jaw-dropping awe, attendees left the festival with a lighter step and a happier state.