Caitlin Mckenzie of Langley (left) and Gabrielle Payn of Surrey won gold on the trapeze at the Australian Circus Festival earlier this month.

Flying high — trapeze artists take home gold in Australia

Circus Lab students Caitlin Mckenzie of Langley and Gabrielle Payn of Surrey win gold at Australian Circus Festival



After months of intense physical training, a 15-hour flight from Vancouver to Australia and hours of hair and makeup, it wasn’t until Caitlin Mckenzie and Gabrielle Payn were suspended from a trapeze under the big top at the Australian Circus Festival that they really felt like part of a carnival.

It was the first time the 13-year-old trapeze artists from Langley’s Circus Lab performed inside a real circus tent, and the show-like atmosphere really paid off.

Both took home gold medals for their sky-high trapeze routines in their age category, and Payn also won bronze for hand-balancing —a huge feat for such a prestigious event.

“I was just really surprised and thrilled for them, I know how many hours they’ve put in,” said coach Svetlana Delous, who is also co-owner of the Circus Lab.

“We’re here at the gym every single day in the weeks prior to (competition). Every time they get a chance, they practice their skills, they film it to see how it looks (and) how they can improve it.”

The competition, which features a professional jury including the director of the National Institute of Circus Arts and competitors from around the world, is not only an opportunity for Mckenzie and Payn to show their skills internationally, but also to meet other professionals in the industry.

“They don’t really go for the competition aspect,” Delous said.

“It’s really rare to see other kids doing circus. It’s not like dance or soccer or gymnastics where so many other kids are into it. It’s so rare, especially to find someone who also does trapeze, or also does hand-balancing. Even when you bring circus people together, they do so many different things. So a big part of why we try to get our students to go, is so they meet people that do the same thing and they have awesome friends overseas that are just as motivated and passionate as they are.”

Both Mckenzie, who is from Langley, and Payn, who is from Surrey, have been training with the Circus Lab since it opened its doors three years ago. They have put in a huge commitment to excel at the level they do, including being home schooled to allow more time for training.

Both hope one day to tour with Cirque du Soleil or other performing groups.

“It’s kind of just like my happy place,” Mckenzie said of being on the trapeze.

“It’s really awesome. It feels like you’re — its hard to explain actually — it just feels really cool.”

Payne said the experience in Australia was “breathtaking,” especially when seeing others perform.

“It’s just really awesome watching that,” she said.

“All the acts are really good. When I see the trapeze acts it’s really exciting.”

Beyond the physical benefits of circus performing, Delous says learning the skills has helped kids improve their grades at school and their self-confidence.

“Even if a student isn’t going to keep going and get a career going into circus arts, what they are learning here are tons of skills that are going to help them work with any other sport,” she said.

“Being able to use your muscles, being coordinated, all of that is going to help you for a soccer team, for a basketball team, for being a little bit more graceful.

“We’re getting parent feedback that they (the students) are more confident in school and their grades are getting better, and that’s actually because they started circus and they’re feeling more comfortable with who they are.”

For more on the Circus Lab and their programs, visit www.thecircuslab.ca.

Photos by Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures, including another at Panorama Ridge

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read