• James Armstrong

International Circus Festival is coming back to town


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Aerial strap artist Caroline Petremente provided a taste of what’s to come at the press conference for the Festival International de Cirque Vaudreuil-Dorion.

The 11th edition of the Vaudreuil-Dorion International Circus Festival returns to the Eugene Chaplin Big Top Tent with shows running from Friday, June 19, to Sunday, June 21. The festival melds seamlessly into the parade, fi reworks, and other festivities planned for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste events beginning Tuesday, June 23. Festival founder Yannick Gosselin said he’s very happy with the continuing development and growth of the festival.

“We are the only International Circus Festival in Canada,” he said during an interview June 16. He noted with some pride that this year is the first time the festival has been officially recognized by the Cirque de Soleil and members of that organization are participating as jurists.

“The festival continues to open many doors,” said Gosselin. Circus courses are now available for local students and the very best that graduate from them will have the opportunity to perform in the festival. Gosselin expressed his deep appreciation for the continuing support from the Town of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Mayor Guy Pilon, and the city council.

This year’s guest of honor is Mitch Winehouse who was introduced at a press conference held Tuesday, June 16. Father of musician Amy Winehouse who passed away July 23, 2011, Mitch Winehouse is also a musician. He was surprised and pleased to hear that music is part of the education system in Quebec. “In the United Kingdom we no longer have free music education – it’s the first thing to go with cost cutting,” he said. He pointed out that music is the cement that holds everything else together and that marks in math, science and other courses decline when music is removed from the curriculum.

“To have (available) circus courses as part of the school curriculum is astonishing,” he said adding that he and Amy loved the circus. There could be a Mitch Winehouse concert in the area in the near future as he offered to donate the proceeds from such a concert to charity. The Winehouse connection to the International Circus Festival is through Kiera Chaplin, daughter of Eugene Chaplin. Since the tragic death of his daughter, Winehouse and his family have created the Amy Winehouse Foundation in her memory to support charities that help young people, particularly those incapacitated by ill health, financial disadvantage, or addiction. Kiera is the international spokesperson for the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

This year, stage director Eugene Chaplin, son of the famous Charlie Chaplin, created a special number, honoring Amy Winehouse. Fifteen local students from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Circus School and Club Gymnastique Gymini will perform the piece to the accompaniment of the song Valerie adapted by composer Koos Mark and played by student band L’Harmonie de la Cité-des-Jeunes. Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon explained in his welcome to Mitch Winehouse that the torrential downpour of rain had been ordered in his honor so that he would feel at home.

The mayor also saluted the Chaplins, Eugene and his daughter Kiera, for their continuing support and work. Pilon paid tribute to composer Koos Mark for the contribution of his musical arrangements. The lineup for this year’s competition has performers from across North America and around the world including Canadian horse trainer Claude Chaussé.

Complete information about the festival is available on their web site www.festivaldecirque.com.

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