There’s magic in a traditional circus that can’t be topped by any other forms of entertainment.
Last weekend, I was able to see one of the few remaining travelling circuses in the Netherlands. The Circus Sijm doesn’t disappoint. Despite cementing its reputation around Europe, it remains a family affair with its intimate blue-and-yellow tent where audiences can get so close to the performers. The smell of the freshly-cut grass and popcorn, the strobing lights, the music and sound effects, and the performances all appeal to the senses. The circus is a different world or rather it has a world of its own.
There are three elements that make a circus successful—people, animals and sensation—according to creative director Alex Sijm. Performances and costumes by Circus Sijm are meticulously done down to the last thread and act. This year, it has 12 new acts and newly-designed costumes sensationalized by more glitters, feathers and rhinestones. Clown Yann Rossi, who was recently awarded at the Monte Carlo Circus Festival, conveys a classic humour that cuts across generation, time and language. With the way he carries his ostentatious and glittery costume and how he connects with the audiences, he is hands-down not your ‘party clown’. And if there’s royalty for clowns, Clown Yann is a prince, if not a king.
My taste for a circus is so simple that any act normal people can’t do is already way beyond my expectations. Circus Sijm has quite an impressive menu—sharpshooters; skilful trapeze artists; a woman who balances 20-plus hula hoops at once; acrobats with tremendous strength, balance and muscle control; dashing daredevils; a juggler who sometimes misses but overall gets it perfectly right. And yes, the intelligent and well-trained horses that gallop like gallant soldiers. The ohhs, the ahhs and the clapping don’t stop. The kids in the audience giggle like they’re being tickled a million times.
The combination of talented performers and animals plus the sensation the whole circus experience brings is more than entertainment. It is reliving the past—a salute to the men and women (and animals) who have made the circus alive and to the audience who continuously patronize this ebbing tradition. Quite aptly, with every performance of Circus Sijm this year, it gives homage to the 250 years of circus and to the Englishman and charismatic impresario, Philip Astley who invented it in 1768. With the theme ‘vive le cirque’, it looks back on the long and illustrious circus history. Circus Sijm is the last among the classic circuses in the country and it would be a waste not to see it, for the sake of our children and the child in us. Long live the circus!
Circus Sijm performs until June 24 in Haarlem at Ijsbaanlaan. Check ticket prices and more information at www.circussijm.nl.