Edmonton is known for its bounty of summer festivals, but Annie Dugan, co-founder and artistic director of Firefly Theatre and Circus, realized there were no festivals for circus artists, despite a growing circus community.
“We have Quebec, which is like the capital of contemporary circus arts, like, in the world, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t circus artists in the rest of the country,” says Dugan. “It occurred to me that we’re never going to get a national voice until we discover our regional voice, so that’s when it hit me that we needed to start a festival.”
The Alberta Circus Arts Festival planned to debut in June 2020, with shows and instructors coming from across the country, until the pandemic interfered. A year later and the festival is going ahead virtually, which Dugan hopes won’t stop circus performers — beginners and professionals — from attending.
The lineup of events includes a keynote address from Krista Monson, an internationally renowned creative and stage director from St. Albert. Monson spent 13 years with Cirque du Soleil and most recently wrote and directed the critically acclaimed production, VIVID, for the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin.
Other standout sessions from the lineup include a tour of Alberta’s circus studios, a juggling workshop and various circus performances. The Alberta Circus Arts Festival is for everyone, whether you’re actively involved in the circus community or just like watching cool tricks.
“The goal of this festival is to bring people from the area together, plus bring people from the rest of the country, so we can see each other’s work and be inspired by each other’s work,” says Dugan.
The festival starts on June 25 and runs until June 27. Tickets vary from free to $50 and can be purchased for each session online. Performances can be watched at any time during the festival, but there will be an artist Q&A if you watch the performance at the scheduled time.
“We want people to see circus, and we want people to want to see more circus, so that next year when we’re live and in person, everybody can come out because we are going to be bringing some amazing shows,” says Dugan.