Way more entertaining than the Family Circus, Tomasz Mrozewski takes a look at the Wonderbolt Circus family.
St. John's is a funny place, and there are those who embrace its silliness, its kookiness, its unpredictability. Some are better at it than others… and some do it professionally.
Enter Wonderbolt Circus. Beni Malone founded Wonderbolt here 25 years ago and has since then been in large part responsible for the cultivation of St. John's large circus scene. In very few other cities in this country (or any other, for that matter) could you expect to see so many people on unicycles or juggling. This year the NL Arts Council recognized his contribution by awarding him the Arts in Education Award.
For the last five years Beni has put on the Wonderbolt Circus Show and this summer it hits the gym floor at St. Bon's once again. As in previous years, the circus features homegrown talent as well as guest circus artists from the mainland and abroad, and Beni is proud to present a circus show of quality disproportionate to the size of the city.
One of the stars this year is Beni's daughter, aerialist Anahareo-White Malone. Despite being Beni's child, it wasn't a given for her to become a professional performer. She originally studied kinesiology at MUN, but an epiphany on a trip to Jamaica made her decide to drop university to train at the National Circus School in Montreal. She graduated in 2002 and went immediately to Switzerland to tour with a bigtop circus for 8 months. She now divides her time betwen Montreal and Berlin, and has been returning to St. John's for the past two summers to join Wonderbolt's summer performances – oh yeah, and to see her dad.
Anahareo's main act is the aerial hoop, a variation on hoop work of her own devising. Using a hoola hoop-like ring suspendend horizontally by three ropes, she mesmerizes audiences with acrobatic routines suspended high above their heads. She also does silks, which involves elegant dancing and movement amongst strands of silk hung from the ceiling.
Also joining the circus from away are NYC handstand artist Cory Tabino, Oregon gymnast Josh Oliver, and flyer Ronnie Ritterland from Stockholm. Beni says he's able to attract circus performers because they "collect experiences like others collect money," and that performing in Newfoundland is among the more unique experiences in a field chock full of them.
These guests join Wonderbolt regulars Kat Finck, Peter Duchemin, David Mercer, Jocelyn Wilson and James Burke. Many of the local performers who grew up in St. John's learned circus under Beni's tutelage, some of them as kids. The show also features original live music by St. John's composer George Morgan.
– Tomasz Mrozewski
The Wonderbolt Circus Show opens on July 13 and runs to July 23 at the St. Bonaventure school Gymnasium. Check The Scope listings section for showtimes, or www.wonderbolt.ca. Later in the summer the circus will hit the Buskers Festivals in Corner Brook and St. John's, and in August it heads out to Labrador.