Grab your coats, your kids, and your smiles – the Christchurch City Council Winter Circus is helping to bring life and colour to central city streets this June and July.
Buskers and circus acts will perform free shows along Cashel Mall, at the Bridge of Remembrance on the Avon River, and Hack Circle at the corner of Cashel and High streets, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting Friday, 7 June.
The performances will include tunes from local musicians and stunts from professional circus acts and in-training circus students from Circotica.
Meet the performers:
Mullets might have had their heyday back in the 1980s, but that doesn’t bother Nathan Bonner. Also known as Mullet Man, Bonner is unashamedly proud to bring a touch of bogan to his performance.
No stranger to street performance, Bonner has won accolades from critics and punters alike – including the Critic’s Choice Award at the 2010 World Buskers Festival. He’s been a busker for over twenty years, after giving up his teacher training in 1994 to follow his passion for the craft.
He trained at Circa arts school, where he went on to become a tutor, mentoring a new generation of buskers.
His act is a mixture of juggling, unicycling, comedy and a few Metallica ballads thrown in for good measure.
Louise Kerr has been a hit with audiences since she started performing more than 10 years ago. Although her shows are designed for all ages, she’s a favourite with under-fives.
“I relate really well to the little kids,” she says.
“I’m not quite sure why, maybe it’s because I look a bit like a cartoon.”
Or maybe it’s because she can skip on a unicycle.
She trained as a teacher before deciding to try her hand at performing full time. Kerr and her alter ego ‘Sport Suzy’ are adept at getting laughs from the crowd, whether it’s with her unique fitness inspired ‘Jane Fonda meets Richard Simmons’ routine or her natural knack for comedy.
Local audiences will be impressed with her ‘Face Weightlifting’ trick – balancing heavy things on her face. This speciality takes a bit of practice and some tricky chin contortions, but Kerr says she took to it like a duck to water. Christchurch audiences can expect to see this along with other ‘wow’ moments at her shows.
Celina grew up in Portugal and moved to Christchurch in 2013. She always had a passion for gymnastics and competed in the sport through much of her childhood. She exchanged the gym floor for the big top three years ago and ran away to join the circus. Well, train with it at least.
“I started training for an hour a week,” she says.
“I just wanted to try it out and I found that I really enjoyed it.”
That hour training is now an average of nine hours each week as she fits her acrobatics into her busy schedule at university, where she’s completing a fine arts degree.
Despite only starting public performing a year ago, her confidence has quickly grown.
“I really like being in front of a crowd. Every crowd is different and that makes every performance different too,” she says.
Audiences can expect to be impressed with her silk routine and acrobatics. The relative newcomer says she still gets a little bit nervous before performing, “but it’s a good kind of nervous”.
Cameron Taylor is not exactly what you would expect of a trapeze artist. Canterbury born and bred, Taylor is an analyst by day, but in his spare time he’s a juggler and high-wire artist extraordinaire. He says his routine is a departure from traditional trapeze, so forget the graceful pointed toes and elegant arms. His act is a little more rock and roll – he’s been known to play guitar while in the air.
Circus performing has always been a passion of his, but he got serious about it six years ago when he was working with fire spinners in Cathedral Square. He enjoyed the experience so much he began training with Circotica, starting out as a way to get fit. Soon enough he was juggling with clubs and climbing the trapeze ropes. While no stranger to performing on stage in his band, his first public juggling performance was a big moment.
“With juggling there’s always the horror of dropping a club,” he says with a laugh.
“And while you nail it 100 per cent of the time in class, once there’s an audience, well, it can be a different story.”
As well as juggling, trapeze and guitar playing, Taylor says there’s nothing quite like getting an authentic laugh from a local crowd. He is thrilled to be part of the local circus community and hopes to entertain and surprise audiences with never-before-seen routines and if he can make them laugh while he’s at it, all the better.