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Home-grown circus performance comes to Sechelt Arts Festival

Home-grown circus performance comes to Sechelt Arts Festival

The Sechelt Arts Festival runs from October 5 to 21, celebrating its 15th anniversary with 15 days of performances, art exhibits, and workshops. This year’s theme is Home Grown, highlighting the people and talent of the Sunshine Coast. The Festival opens with SATIO, a “nouveau cirque” featuring acrobats, fools, puppeteers, dancers and musicians. Satio means sowing or planting in Latin, another tie-in with the home-grown theme. Accomplished local performer Gerardo Avila is the show’s writer and director. He is also a professional clown, mime and magician, and was a founding performer with Cirque du Soleil. He has a wealth of experience performing, writing, and directing circus-based shows in schools and in professional settings. His passion for clowning led him to earn a Masters in Literature degree from UBC where he studied commedia dell’arte and its influence in theatre.

Two members of the Kokoro Dance troupe, which will be part of the SATIO “nouveau cirque” performances Oct. 5 and 7 at the shíshálh Nation Longhouse. Paul Gibbons photo

So when Festival co-producers Diana Robertson and Ross Powell approached Avila to write and direct a circus show on the home-grown theme, he immediately recognized the uniqueness of the project. “The idea is to involve as many performers from the Coast as we can: clowns, stilt walkers, musicians, dancers, kids,” he says, noting the performance itself will be held at the shíshálh Nation Longhouse. “Being able to use it is a great opportunity,” he says. “We have Taiko drummers from Roberts Creek and drummers from shíshálh Nation, and dancers. We can work together and build new relationships.” The show’s theme is related to nature and growing, but is also about ideas and the exchange of ideas. “Satio is about ideas that keep growing, like plants,” says Avila. “Spreading seeds, spreading ideas. You pass an idea to someone else, it grows.”

In addition, the arrangement of seats at the Longhouse – with seating on both sides of the building approximates that of a circus tent which has “seating in the round. We are building the show around that idea,” says Avila, noting that while that may be more challenging, it also means everyone in the audience will have a slightly different perspective of the show. “It’s going to be an incredible experience of something totally new, once in a lifetime” says Avila. “It’s going to be magic.”

SATIO, with live music by the Rakish Angles and special guests Kokoro Dance, opens the Sechelt Arts Festival October 5 at 8pm, with a matinee Sunday, October 7 at 2pm. Tickets are $30 at the door or $25 in advance at the Sechelt Visitor Centre or on the Festival website. The Festival also includes: Earth Art, a visual art exhibition, at the Seaside Centre October 12-21; Coasters Covering Coasters, on October 12, is a special concert featuring local musicians covering the music of local musicians; a series of “home grown” workshops include wine making, beer brewing, beeswax mask making, taiko drumming and butoh dancing; and much, much, more. Complete details at:

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