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

Just Posted

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Public hearing set for two Surrey modular housing projects for homeless

Surrey council set to vote Monday on projects in Guildford, Whalley

North Delta Secondary teacher up for B.C. education award

Prabhjot Grewal is up for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education in the Outstanding New Teacher category

Publication ban lifted on transgender complainant’s name in Surrey waxing dispute

Jessica Yaniv filed 13 discrimination claims against salons, one in Surrey, based on gender identity

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Injured fawn at B.C. vet will be euthanized Friday night unless claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer is currently being treated at West Kelowna’s Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

HISTORY: Surrey hoedowns and ‘moonlight dances’ were the place to be

Dancing, revelry united community members of all ages

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read