FYI Vol. VII, No. 2

America’s Circus Festival Draws Crowds

The second annual Viva Fest, which was held in Las Vegas from February 15-18, has proven to be a resounding success, both in terms of artists competing and audience attendance, providing promise of more to come.

During the day time 290 acts, for a total of 300 participating young artists, competed in the emerging artist and student category.  This competition was broken down into many different categories so that similar acts competed against one another in the same genre.

In the main tent during the evening hours 19 acts competed in the professional category.  These were presented in a cabaret style show.  There were three top winners:  first place went to the slack wire act of Evgeny Vasilenko; second place was won by the aerial rope artist Shem Biggie; and third place went to  the aerial rope duo of Caitlin Marion and Spencer Craig.  These winners took home a monetary prize (They are also pictured in the cover image of this issue).   An additional, special prize was offered by the Flynn Creek Circus.  This was a contract to tour in their summer production.  It was won by Kiriku who presented an act of icarian games (AKA risley).

In addition to the competition, performances of other shows were offered in the Petit Palace ( a second tent) hosted by Matt and Heidi Morgan.  A late night adult show called Princess Wendy and an afternoon family show called Wonderland drew capacity or near capacity crowds.

In the main tent which could accommodate 450 persons, two performances of the Pro-FEST drew full houses. A cabaret staged by Cirque Mechanic also drew a large audience.

In addition to all this 78 workshops, for which a fee was charged all sold out.  These included flying trapeze ( a full rig was set up near the tents), teeterboard, aerial, clowning, manipulations and contortion.  A series of lectures about circus history and Q&A’s with artists from Cirque du Soleil shows and circus school owners from around the U.S were also popular features.

Viva Fest is a creation of Mike Rice and Carly Sheridan is the executive director.  The web address is


Here’s Your Chance to be Counted

I am often asked by various media representatives about the number of circuses operating in America. I have never been able to give a definitive answer. A survey being undertaken by AYCO and ACE may answer more accurately that which had formerly been impossible, as well as providing important answers about the significance of circus in today’s culture. The survey means to take a US-wide accounting of circus activity of all kinds. According to a representative of the survey the intention is to have circus and circus-related businesses be accurately represented, to show the wide impact they have on the US and the diversity with which they accomplish that. Any organization, company, or program related to circus arts is being asked to fill out a quick set of questions about the wonderful work they do. The survey can be found at Please feel free to forward this to any and all relevant circus or circus-related companies that you might know. We want to hear from performance companies, educators, facilities, and vendors too! If you have any questions, check out our survey info page Do make it a point to participate.



Another Training Program Shows What it Can do

Kinetic Arts Center’s troupe of pre-professional performers, Circus Spire, is presenting its latest production Circus Austerius—the Magnificent Return. It has been conceived and directed by Jaron A. Hollander. Its four-week run goes through March 25 in downtown Oakland’s Kenetic Arts Center. The show takes audiences on a journey as a group of rowdy clowns, the Odious, burst into the geometric society of Circus Austerius and rile it up with a combination of acrobatics, aerial performances, juggling, clowning and physical theatre. Circus Spire is now in its ninth season. Ticket info at

Two American Clowns on the Verge of an Important Career Move.

American clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs will be in the new Cirque d’Hiver production in Paris beginning this coming fall. See a review of the current production starring another American clown Rob Torres in the Passing Spectacle section of this issue.


Celebrate High Flying Circus Women

Watch the film here:

Circus250 is the body co-ordinating over 200 events happening throughout 2018 to celebrate 250 years of circus.Women in Circus presents an extraordinary cast of historic and contemporary women, from 19th century tightrope walkers to today’s ringmistresses. It features, in live performance, the most daring Yasmine Smart, the most astonishing Nell Gifford, the most talented Rebecca Truman, the most clever Dr Dea Birkett and the one and only Professor Vanessa Toulmin.


Sneak preview of Cirque du Soleil’s new ice show Cyrstal