Circenses is an Arts Festival hit

23:50, Mar 16 2012
FESTIVAL HIT: Belgium's Circus Ronaldo show Circenses was one of the hits of the Arts Festival.

They faced weather bombs and sprinklers, but the cast of Circus Ronaldo have persevered with their sell out show Circenses, with the two-sided circus spectacular becoming the hit of the the Arts Festival.

With the shows continuing right until closing night, director and performer Danny Ronaldo has barely had a moment to draw breath, as their rare days off got soaked up by replacement performances thanks to the merciless Wellington weather and a forgetful council contractor.

But despite the mishaps, Ronaldo has not lost his sense of excitement about his family's trip to New Zealand.

The Belgian circus family, which has been entertaining crowds for six generations, shipped over their vintage big top to make sure they could deliver the proper Circenses experience.

"Every time you are performing for new people in new countries, you feel this desire to deliver to them something they have never seen before.

"That comes from a love of circus you only get from being completely immersed in it."


Being born into Circus Ronaldo, he has grown up with a love of clowning, expanding his interests into show development as he got older.

"If you are a clown then you must be all-encompassing. A proper clown should be able to do acrobatics, juggling, act as a ringmaster and everything else too.

"You are the heart and the life of the show, so you must be able to pour your soul into it as well."

With his two teenage sons both performing, and an 80-year-old relative still going strong, Ronaldo remains philosophical about the attraction of circus life.

"You can never predict what your children will wish to do. They can be deeply in love with juggling one minute, and wish to fly off into the sunset in the next.

"It is like a voice upon the wind that can call them in any direction."

Developing Circenses started with only the smallest of ideas, with Ronaldo wanting to show a different part of his family circus to the audience.

"When we started developing things we began with almost nothing. But with love and with a lot of creativity, it soon blossomed into this beautiful idea of giving the crowd an insight into all sides of us.

"It was about pulling back the curtain and unleashing some of our secrets."

The audience's desire to see behind the red curtain has been satisfied, with their two-sided show, giving an insight into what goes on outside of the circus ring.

The show, divided into two halves, gives the crowd both the excitement of the circus performance, and the intrigue of the backstage antics. It offers a show within a show.

"When you are a young child watching a circus, all you want to know is what happens when they leave the ring and go backstage. You want to know what happened to that beautiful acrobat girl, or what the clowns are doing.

"We have tried to deliver that, with little surprises hidden everywhere you look."

When creating the performance, it was crucial to try to see things through the eyes of a child, Ronaldo says.

"There is nobody with more imagination than a young child, so we try to channel that whenever we can.

"A child just wants to see the magic of the circus."

The Details

Circenses is at Waitangi Park until Sunday.

Did you see this event? Vote for your favourite festival show in the Readers' Choice Awards.