The Royal Canadian Family Circus will return to Surrey on Friday (May 31) with brand new acts inside its 2,700-seat big top tent. (Photos: Shannon Yearwood)

Guildford

Royal Canadian Circus returns to the Lower Mainland

The 2,700-seat big top is being erected in Surrey this week, for a 12-show run starting Friday

Royal Canadian Family Circus’ big top is once again taking over a parking lot at Surrey’s Guildford Town Centre for a 12-show run, starting this Friday (May 31).

It’s the third time the 52-year-old travelling circus is making a stop in Surrey, but expect to see all new acts, said ringmaster Joseph Dominic Bauer.

“Almost every act in the show is brand new,” the ninth-generation daredevil performer said, standing inside the big top right before a recent show in Richmond.

“Even the Chinese artists, the flying trapeze that opens the show is the top flying trapeze act in North America. They’ve been to many major circuses like Barnum & Bailey, Big Apple Circus in New York. They’ve toured all over the world.”

The only act that’s returning from last year is Bauer’s, the white-knuckle-inducing Wheel of Destiny.

He encouraged locals to check out this year’s show, Spectac!, which is described as “jam packed with explosive live entertainment bringing tradition and thrilling acts featuring Xtreme Chinese Acrobats including chair balancing, contortion, diablo, and towering feats of balancing strength, the Flying Cortes Trapeze family, acrobatics, death-defying Wheel of Destiny, Comedy fearless Gonzalez Motorcycle Globe, Hula Hoops, MotoSwing athleticism and beautiful Aerialists.”

The 2,700-seat big top was set to be erected in Guildford Tuesday, after wrapping up a six-show run in Tsawwassen.

And it’s quite the operation.

“We have 14 semis, and we’re self-contained in terms of power,” explained Bauer. “The crew sets up everything you see, lighting, sound, so we move fast.”

It takes a team of approximately 70 people to make the show happen – that incldues 30 performers, 20 workers, and another 20 hired locally in each locale.

“So it’s a lot of planning.”

Circus is truly “the oldest form of family entertainment,” said Bauer.

“It’s never been censored. We’re celebrating 250 years of modern circus. I think it’s something for the whole family, they don’t have to have their phones on, seeing trick photography or anything, it’s all live entertainment. I think that’s why we’re still doing it, and I don’t think it’s going to go away.”

Bauer said for him, and the other performers in the show, “circus is in our blood.”

He first performed at the age of five in Japan.

“My mom did a show at an amusement park and they just had me come out and do a handstand. That was my first. That was it, I watched everything they did and I couldn’t wait to do it,” said Bauer. “I can’t stay at home that long. It’s OK for a while but I have to be back in the circus and direct, and help new artists coming in the business, teaching the ropes.”

And the artform certainly isn’t losing momentum, said Bauer.

“There’s over 300 circus schools in North America. Probably the oldest circus school is down in Florida where I live. They’re celebrating 75 years. Cirque du Soleil has fabulous circus schools, so they’re all over,” he said. “It’s just about getting into it. Is it really your bag? Because it is a lot of work.”

Visit royalcanadiancircus.ca for more details and showtimes. Use promo code Spectac for a two-for-one deal.

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