Ignite the Night – A Toronto Circus Night Benefits Street Children in Cusco

A real crowd pleaser was about to come up next: 4 young men, two dressed in red, and two dressed in dark colours came up and the stage was set for a mock gang fight. The crowd was certainly enthused about the macho performance that was about to unfold. Each duo performed floor acrobatics and break dances, summersaulting through the air, breakdancing on their backs or on one arm, and the mock confrontation of two imaginary gangs resulted in the total delight of the audience.

A mock gang fight

The next performance was called “aerial silks” and a woman was performing all sorts of aerial stunts on a red sheet of silk that had been lowered from the ceiling. After all this excitement, a brief 15 minute intermission helped to calm the crowd down and as people were filing out from the Hall into the bar area, I was listening to the audience’s amazed comments. Everyone enjoyed the show and was in awe at the unique high-quality of the performances.

Aerial silks

When the crowd had settled in again after the intermission, Bruce and Elinor Schwob, one of Planeterra’s fundraisers, did a draw for door prizes. Tilleys Endurables had sponsored a door prize, G.A.P had sponsored a prize pack as well as the top door prize: a trip to the Galapagos Islands which was happily won by a woman from Cambridge, Ontario.

The show continued with a young acrobat that had an audience member toss him a volleyball which he caught and balanced on a stick that he was holding in his mouth. He then asked for another audience volunteer and a young woman reluctantly came up from the crowd, upon which he asked her to lay down. Then he picked up a metal ladder, climbed the ladder and balanced himself perfectely upright using little steps. And with these tiny steps he approached the young lady lying on the floor who was getting more anxious with every second. The acrobat successfully walked over her on the ladder without falling over or stepping on any parts of her body, but the tension and suspense was palpable.

Getting walked over by a man on a ladder

A group of 5 gorgeous women was next, four of them, barefoot and dressed in purple gowns, performed a choreography on the floor while one women, dressed in striking lime green, performed acrobatics hanging from a red hoop. This was a very visually striking act as the group performed with perfect grace and harmony.

Suspended hoop artists and floor dancers

A contortion duo with candelabras was next: 2 young exotic women, one had already ratpured the crowd with the hula hoop show earlier, performed floor acrobatics with lit candelabras on their heads, in their feet and in their hands. They twisted themselves into impossible body positions while always maintaining the lit candelabras upright. At certain points they were balancing four lit candelabras each: one in each hand, one with their foot and one in their mouth. It was as if they had bones and joints made of rubber.

The senses were being teased at every turn. Three men dressed in blue silky uniforms performed a variety of stunts and acrobatics, and at one point one of the men was balancing the two others on his shoulders and they completed the stunt with a jump down on the floor and a tumble.

A male and a female performer on a trapeze and in gorgeous skin-tight suits performed a very sensuous trapeze act and melted into a variety of positions suspended in the air, an appropriate end to the official part of the show, when Foo came out and invited all the performers out on stage. The crowd clapped and cheered wildly and every time the performers took a bow the audience spontaneously erupted into another round of enthusiastic applause.

Bruce and Elinor got up one more time to thank the audience and thanked Zero Gravity Circus for donating their performance free of charge to the cause of Cusco’s street kids. They also indicated they were going to do a singing duet. Unfortunately, none of the microphones cooperated so they postponed their singing premiere to G.A.P’s fundraising ball at Casa Loma in October. When the microphones finally came back on Bruce joked about having to fire the sound company.

Trapeze act

The crowd was invited to stick around for a meet and greet with the performers and it seemed like hundreds of people stayed behind to chat and to take advantage of the fruits and the chocolate fountain. I chatted a bit with Paul Teolis, a photographer who I had recently interviewed who had also donated a beautiful photo of a Guatemalan street market for the Silent Auction.

By this time it must have been 12:30 am, so Paul and I said goodnight and a big thanks for this great event to Bruce who was swarmed by this time by a crowd of appreciative supporters. Paul and I rode the subway back into Toronto’s east side and we both commented on what a wonderful event it had been.

In total, an amount of over $20,000 was raised for Planeterra’s Cusco initiative from ticket sales, the silent auction and the sale of water bottles, popcorn and jambalaya. It’s amazing what can be achieved when a group of people with determination, dedication and good will come together.

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