Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kids Circus Show - We're Really Doing This!

It's happening… this head-spinning journey that has been the creation and rehearsal of the Kids Circus Show.  From a small idea 9 months ago, to the dazzlingly complex and wonderful production that is going to be unveiled tomorrow night, it's been a long process of blood, sweat and tears.  I just can't believe we're really doing this, so I'm blogging now to let it sink in.

When I started this process last fall, all I really had were 11 scatterbrained children, a nod from the Artistic team to use the tent for morning trainings a couple of days a week, and parents who would reluctantly drag their kids in occasionally.  While all of the parents liked the idea of their kids training,  most of them couldn't get over their own exhaustion to make it a priority.  In the meantime, among my own 3 I had one rebellion - Baz early in the fall started refusing to participate in circus class.  Anthony also had no interest - so at best I had 9 willing ones.

Things began to turn around during the winter, when the Totem School signed on to the idea of doing an end-of-year circus show, possibly on stage.  We committed to doing circus for Phys Ed in Portland and Vancouver, and I started getting more serious with the kids' training while we were in California.

Many steps happened after that - and none of the steps were simple.
We got Baz and Anthony to agree to participate.
The Artistic team agreed to have the show on the stage.
The parents started bringing their kids in for more-regular training, as much as 4 or 5 times a week.
Alya stepped in to take over key pieces - the show's opening, closing, and general artistic direction.
Kids chose acts - sometimes having to step up to a greater challenge, sometimes having to scale back their ambitions.
Other parents began accepting responsibility for other acts, choreographing and finding music.
Costumes were purchased, made, and modified.
Props were built and acquired - trapezes, hula-hoops, clown props.

And along the way, the operations and technical and artistic departments of Totem began to take us more and more seriously.  It wasn't until mid-spring that we finally got the riggers to agree that we could do the aerial acts on the stage.  And then there was a key meeting, which brought together all departments - including PMed, the Head Coach, lighting, sound, automation, carpentry, etc. - for a review of what we wanted to do, and to make a plan moving forwards.  I was stunned when I came out of this meeting - I had expected crossed arms and "No"s - and what I found were a dozen people saying "what can I do?  how can I help?"

After that, it felt like everything changed.  All of a sudden I had JS and Lucie (some of the best professional stage managers in the world, let's acknowledge) asking me about lighting cues and rehearsal schedules, and Nick measuring our trapeze heights, and Margarita sewing costumes, and Gael compiling all of the show music.  Now we have follow-spot operators.  We have video projections and rigging automation.  And we have artists who are at the absolute top of their game choreographing and directing acts.  It is just beyond the scope of anything I could have imagined.

Dress rehearsal photos courtesy of Annette Bauer.

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