Professional circus performer Kaelyn Schmitt is a West Shore resident and performs at Catalyst on April 2 to 3 at the Metro Theater. With this show

Off to see the circus

Local performer hopes to open circus school on Vancouver Island

Everyone loves a circus.

Kaelyn Schmitt, however, isn’t just interested in enjoying the show. Back on the Island following international circus performances in Berlin, Seoul and Las Vegas, this seasoned professional is back on the West Shore, with an eye on bringing the circus back with her.

“(Circus is) a mix of acrobatics, dance, acting – but in the air, on something that’s moving and spinning … and it is lot of fun,” she said. “I would love to see a bit of the circus world come here. We really just want to build awareness and support for circus in the community.”

To do that the Colwood resident, along with partners Jacob West from Victoria and Erin Eckert from Saanich, formed Island Circus Space. Their first show, Catalyst, runs this Saturday and Sunday (April 2 to 3) at the Metro Theatre in Victoria.

The goal however, isn’t just to offer a place for artists to perform, it’s paired with the dream of opening Vancouver Island’s first circus school.

“It’s a big plan, but Victoria is a great place. A lot of people’s eyes light up when you say there might be a circus school – I would love for that to happen and build that, because this is where I grew up,” she said.

“In Montreal and Quebec, the growth is extraordinary. I would love to see that come out west.”

A 2007 Belmont secondary graduate, Schmitt started doing gymnastics at five and eventually trained at Falcon Gymnastics before specializing in circus after high school.

She moved to Montreal to train at the L’ École Nationale de Cirque and graduated from the circus arts program in June 2010, specializing in double-bar trapeze.

She has since been around the world performing with travelling circus acts, but an accident during a show in Germany in early 2015 brought her back home.

“The cable attached (to the rig) gave out, the whole structure was eight feet off the ground and I landed on the left heel, so it shattered,” she said.

“But it was non-life threatening, it’s not something I ever wish on anyone performing or watching, but it was a huge learning experience.”

There’s no doubt about it, there is a certain amount of risk she said. At the professional level, the athleticism and challenge of being a top circus performer is comparable to elite-level sports.

As such, given that she is still healing her injury, Schmitt is preparing for the upcoming show as director.

“It’s the most present I have ever felt in my life when I am on stage. I have the capacity to connect with the audience and feel that energy reciprocated. It’s amazing, because it’s a moment that can never be duplicated,” she said.

“To be able to travel and work and do what I love, I can’t complain. I love being in the air and the feeling of freedom in the air is incredibly liberating … I love it, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

There are two performances each day at the Metro Theatre (1411 Quadra St.). Tomorrow’s shows go at 4 and 8 p.m., while Sunday’s times are 4 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for children under 12. For more information visit islandcircusspace.com.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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