Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls — the Revelstoke Circus Camp returned to the city last week to dazzle and amaze the general public once more.
The program, hosted by Calgary based group Green Fools Theatre Society, set up camp last Monday at Revelstoke Secondary School, bringing with them stilts, tightropes, unicycles and plenty of costumes.
Around 30 participants between the ages of eight and 16 honed multiple skills over the week long program, performing their finished routines on Friday at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre.
Artistic director for Green Fools Theatre Dean Bareham says the camp offers kids the opportunity to try things they wouldn’t usually have access to, all while building a larger community around circus performance.
“Circus has that kind of cache. So they get to come here and try things that they wouldn’t necessarily normally try,” explains Bareham. “It’s really empowering for them. And it’s non-competitive — so it’s not about competing with anybody, it’s about working together as a group.”
While some participants have attended multiple years of the camp, a majority had never attempted the activities until setting foot in the camp on Monday of last week.
By Wednesday, however, the group had all decided on individual roles for Friday’s performance, with the young performers confidently riding unicycles throughout corridors in RSS, or gracefully walking across tightropes in preparation.
Jeffrey Olynek, an instructor with Green Fools theatre who specializes in juggling, unicycling and stilt walking among other skills, says the ability for kids to over come challenges within the camp leads to confidence that translates beyond circus performance.
“Most of skills that we do here are challenging and take some practice,” says Olynek. “So when they can work at a thing and over the course of five days master a skill that looked impossible at the beginning of the week, that’s so invaluable for their self confidence and their ego.”
While previous years have seen the troupe perform beneath a big top tent, this year performers unveiled their skills in the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre due to weather concerns.
Green Fools Theatre Society holds the camp annually in Revelstoke, allowing new performers and returnees to see what the circus has to offer each summer.