Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"You don’t wake up and say I want to be in the circus and buy a circus tent…"

When speaking of the circus; depending on your age, it evokes different images of wonder, delight, and amazement.  During a busking performance at the Forks, in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 6, 2014 Daniel and Kimberly Craig spoke of the nature of being circus performers and what it entails,   “In 1993 at the Fringe Festival I saw a group performing a similar style of show and I got to be the kid volunteer… I had the most fun, and the only logical course of action was to make your own show and do it next year…that’s why it’s never stopped being fun and here we are," said Daniel.

Commonly known as Dan and Kim; these longtime performers enjoy the interactions between themselves and live audiences. Both have been introduced to the medium at a very young age. Albeit Kim is American by birth (Chicago) and has come to appreciate Canada’s distinctive attributes. Meeting for the first time in Brockville, Ontario in 2005, the pair quickly realized that their affinity towards each other transcended past the area of professionalism, “We were hanging in group settings a lot and what ended up happening is I was booking my shows and Kim was working with another group and we ran into each other for almost six weeks,” grinned Dan. 
 Recently, the pair have coalesced their talents and entrepreneurial skills to form a business entity called The Street Circus, from which they can continue to live (are soon to be married) and work within their field of choice. Isaac Girardin, Co-Director of the Central Canadian Circus Arts Club (CCAC) is a fellow craftsman and friend of Dan and Kim, “I always admired how polished it (their act) was. The talent displayed is incredible. It was clear that they rehearsed it many times.”
 Other Winnipeg based artists such as Samantha Halas took notice of Dan and Kim’s natural skill set and energy they bring onto the stage, Kim and Dan have a fun energetic show…for example Kim does aerial hoop and figure skating combined; I don't know who came up with that…but it's fabulous! They are always working to become better and better which, I believe, is the sign of true artists. Dan has been busking for a long time; you can tell by how well he works with the audiences, I think a lot of buskers in Winnipeg look up to him.”
When describing how one decides to become a contortion, acrobat, and juggler artist, among other circus-like disciplines; both Dan and Kim did not have a concise answer. Both are of the view that being initiated into the ‘family of circus acts’ so to speak comes with a natural curiosity, a desire to create, and perform in front of an audience.

“...You don’t wake up and say I want to be in the circus and buy a circus tent… You wake up and say maybe I want to start juggling, and then you buy three juggling balls and then you work on that for a year,” commented Kim.
Girardin gave a similar synopsis; and added that since establishing practice seminars in Winnipeg, more and more people are exploring what they can pursue within various disciplines. “Members of the public still don’t take the craft seriously. When you tell someone that you are a juggler, contortionist, etc…the first thing they think of and reply is, ‘Oh you’re a clown’.”  In a lot of ways it continues to be a perception that they have... At the end of the day we are here to entertain people.”
Halas believes that the degree of dedication and success is dependent on the individual, “Some may not be as serious as others... Many however live and breathe what they do.”
In matters of business, they acknowledge that in the end if one is to succeed professionally; there needs to be a proven track record, “We apply for hundreds and hundreds of things a year…No one gets everything they apply for….at most I would say one in five that we apply for…so you just have to know going in you can’t let it (rejection letters) affect you personally. Now we are touring eight…nine months of the year,” said Dan.

all smiles in the background
Kim also made an important distinction, “Unless you have been an artist for a long time and you never worked…maybe you should rethink your position.”

As performers what carries Dan and Kim Craig through their training rituals, travel, and bookings are the emotional charge given and received from a live audience. It is the wonder in children's eyes and expressions from adults who; for a fleeting moment rediscover what it meant to be inspired. 
Thank goodness, the art of circus acts are not soon to be forgotten, and in large part due to people like the Craig's who make it their purpose to entertain, amaze, and demonstrate to others that dreams are possible.

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