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Day 3: The Will to Create

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

From the gentle stroke of a make-up brush to the way an orchestra pit turned into a show's wings and set, Day 3 at St. John's International Circus Festival was all about creativity. An omnipresent will to create is in the city, one can witness it in how a pastry chef precisely drew with icing on the cake displayed in her window or in the way musicians burst into songs at a street corner. The festival will wrap at nightfall, but there are great shows to attend, beautifully written books to purchase, inspiring music to listen to, and arts programs to support year round. We truly hope that Circus Fest and our guests have ignited an even stronger interest in culture and that you'll all take full advantage of how much creativity the city has to offer these coming months.

Some of Friday's magic still floated in the air when people gathered at The Rooms for a special make-up workshop with Maryse Gosselin. Mere hours after artists had turned the building into a multi-leveled circus production, the inspired designer was sharing some of her best skills and secrets. Those who had heard Gosselin at Thursday's Deep Dive knew how creative the woman was and witnessed the vibrant energy that goes through her fingers when she manipulate a brush. Her statement that the people around and the team she's working with are a huge part of her inspiration was confirmed by how she undeniably fed off the participants' interest and curiosity. It really wasn't about covering the face and hiding the artist, but using the make-up and creating designs to let unique personal expressions shine. A great workshop centered on creativity at the tip of one's fingers!

Daytime talk show hosts, be aware: You have fierce competitors in the wings! Following Jillian Keiley and Holly Treddnick, Stacy Clark took the panel moderator's chair for “Circus in a post-pandemic world.” In the same way that her predecessors did, Clark kept the conversation going and gave it a good flow by listening, commenting, and allowing participants to bounce and feed off each other. These three women know how to lead discussions and might end on your TV soon!

Maude-Andrée Lefebvre, Quebec's office in the Atlantic provinces' leader, served as Clark's opener and drew parallels between the circus movement that lives in Quebec and the one that our city keeps very much alive with the festival. Quebec's government is and has always been very supportive of its circus companies and we are deeply thankful for the financial support and help they've been giving us. We'd never be able to pull it off without our sponsors and supporters and Quebec's government is an important one. They believe in the good of creativity as much as we do!

Time was one of the panel's first topics. Time spent with colleagues, time spent in meetings, networking time: that all changed when the pandemic rocked our world. “Time slowed down, even if we had to react fast. We all took the time to re-prioritize and rethink everything we thought we knew. We finally took the time to develop psychological support and create resources that benefit and help the circus community” explained Nadia Drouin from Montreal.

The use of Zoom and how it has modified “office time” was the big game-changer for Flip Fabrik's Bruno Gagnon. He recognized that we're all over it at this point and would rather meet in person, but being able to discuss with people worldwide at almost anytime is a luxury that no one ever thought possible. “These online platforms allowed us to stay connected, strengthen the community, and fight loneliness at a time where meeting face-to-face was impossible,” added Gagnon before passing the mic to his neighbor. “This past year has been about finding connections without being in the same space,” said Seattle's Terry Crane.

Juggler Marcello G. Matta pointed out how resilient circus artists have been when unable to do what they enjoy most. “We had to be creative and go to the people since the public couldn't come to us. Seeing colleagues juggling under balconies, tumbling and dancing in alleys brought joy to many, myself included,” said the Chilean before admitting that he went through a depression phase at some point.

In response to government officials asking artists to pivot and reinvent themselves on a dime, Stacy Clark suggested a ban of the word “pivot.” Circus Talk CEO's described the community's reaction as a digging-in-the-heels move that showed how willing they were to create, perform, and would stop at nothing to reach audiences. “We took the time to think and find solutions, now we need to get into action and re-activate what has been down,” added Nadia Drouin.

In regards to the use of technology, hybrid events, and virtual creation tools, the panel's parting pearl of wisdom was that technology can support circus arts without it being used at their expense.

As soon as the last festival-goer had left, Cirque Hors Piste filled the Emera Innovation Exchange for a deep discussion on social circus, how ingenious instructors had to be in finding new ways of teaching, and successfully modified their approach to keep the social movement alive.

This third day of festivities ended at the Art and Culture center where the Edge of the world cabaret's director, Patrick Léonard, welcomed the audience by plunging into the orchestra's pit. This unusual greeting turned out to be the evening's most ingenious concept. The pit became wings the artists used to appear and disappear. The cast created many memorable and surprising moments by pushing one another into the void or pulling a colleague from it. They kept the audience on their toes as they wondered who would be next to vanish and how one might be introduced. Given that the Jazz East Big Band was performing flawlessly and with high energy on stage, one might think Léonard wanted to inverse the usual positions by having the orchestra on stage and the artists in the pit!

Minnie Kim's pole act was one of the evening's most moving moments. The Korean artist displayed such body awareness and control of her movements, gracefully and lightly going from one position to the next. She conveyed as much strength as softness, touched the audience with her vulnerability and openness. By linking the most intricate positions with the smoothest dance sequences, hand balancer Marie-Ève Dicare also took many breaths away. The way she intertwined combinations on her feet with her handstands and fully used the stage was a lesson in the art of movement. Stepping away from the graceful image that many have of aerialists, Terry Crane displayed genuine joy and brought as many laughs as gasps with his vertical rope skills and comical character. An aerial actor who charmed the audience! Spectators left the auditorium two hours and about ten acts upon their arrival with the firm intent of coming back the following day for the festival's final show: Six by Flip Fabrique. See you there tonight!

Et en français au festival international de cirque de Saint John's...

“Le maquillage permet d'accentuer les expression et la personnalité de l'artiste plutôt que de le faire disparaître derrière un masque” a expliqué Maryse Gosselin dans un atelier de maquillage circassien. La créatrce est passée maître dans le milieu avec ses collaborations sur Toruk et Luzia du Cirque du Soleil ainsi qu'au Cirque Éloiz.

“La technologie et les plateformes en ligne peuvent et doivent supporter les arts de la scène sans toutefois prendre la place de l'expérience humaine” fut le verdict d'un panel de deux heures sur le cirque dans un monde post-pandémique

Minnie Kim au mât pendulaire, l'équilibriste Marie-Ève Dicaire, la folie aérienne et joué de Terry Crane à la corde lisse: trois moments forts du “Edge of the world cabaret” où les artistes ont utilisé la fosse de l'orchestre comme la plus ingénieuse des coulisses!

Ne manquez pas notre spectacle de clôture: Six de Flip Fabrik au Arts and Culture Center, ce soir, 20.00!

- Martin Frenette

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