Every Sunday, a group of Winnipeggers run away to the circus.
It’s at the Central Canadian Circus Arts Club drop-in where people juggle, unicycle, dance, hula-hoop and practice circus tricks.
Karrie Blackburn was at the very first drop-in three years ago and has been hula-hooping for six years.
“I took it up as a form of exercise to lose weight…and in two years I lost 75 pounds,” she said. “I just fell in love with it as an art form and took it and ran with it.”
Blackburn ran with it all around the globe. What was once a hobby has taken her to Ireland, New Zealand and Bali. She teaches hula-hooping in Winnipeg now through her business, Kurrent Motion.
Blackburn says the drop-in is the perfect space to practice.
“Especially in our cold winters,” she said. “Everyone wants to continue to practice and play but not everyone has room in the living room to play with a hula-hoop or two.”
Kaitlyn Childs, 12, has dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil. For her, it started with rhythmic gymnastics and a week at the National Circus School in Montreal.
“We did everything, like unicycles, I was terrible at that, we did devil sticks, trampoline and acrobatics,” she said. “It’s all really fun and a bit dangerous.”
Brett Hogan likes the risky tricks like the human blockhead, where he hammers a nail into his face. He also uses fire and glass for other tricks.
“I break up a ton of glass and I walk on it or lay on it and have my partner stand or dance on top of me, pushing me into the broken glass,” he said. “There’s a lot of science behind it you can’t reveal. It works the same way as a bed of nails.”
Hogan hopes to set a world record for the longest duration spent on broken glass and is in contact with the Guinness World Records. There is no record, but Hogan hopes to set it at 48 hours. So far his longest duration is 10 minutes (the length of a performance), so he has a lot of training to do.
“I am going to have to harden my back up,” he said.
Hogan’s dad owns Gags Unlimited, a costume, prank and circus store, so he grew up immersed in the industry.
“I’ve always been a performer. Even before circus, I was in improv and theatre,” he said.
The circus drop-ins will run until the weather warms up in the spring at the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre. Drop in price is $5 and yearly memberships are $30 and $20 for kids 12 and under.
All photos / video by Amber McGuckin