Big band to put pace into circus performance

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Big band member and circus artist Jano Šimko… “Big band music ties into live performance well, it’s nice and upbeat.” Photo: Helen Musa

SWINGIN’ Circus Cabaret is a new venture by Warehouse Circus and Spectrum Big Band combining a circus variety show with jazz and swing music played by a big band.

Leisa Keen, the director of Spectrum, an offshoot of Canberra City Band, told “CityNews” that band member Jano Šimko, also a circus artist and marketing manager for Warehouse Circus, had suggested how circus and a big band would go well together.

Keen, who joined Spectrum recently, said she has been looking for an opportunity to give more people access to their kind of music and thought, why not?

Inspired by music as varied as “Toxic” by Britney Spears, Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” and Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady Is a Tramp”, the cabaret will feature acrobats, a unicyclist, jugglers and a fan dancer, all accompanied by Spectrum.

Šimko said there were different ways of working, either getting the music first and structuring the routine around that or preparing the routine first, but that Keen and her team of musos had pulled old songs out of the archives, recorded them and given them to the circus artists.

“Big band music ties into live performance well, it’s nice and upbeat, but it’s also good for circus performers to change tempo so that they can do different tricks,” he says.

There would, he said, at the Abbey Function Centre, be two completely different performances, one a sophisticated show with dinner and cabaret on the Saturday night and the second a matinee performance with cushions down front for kids to sit on, a magician and face painting.

In both there would be dozens of live performers in what he promised would be “a thrilling spectacle of skill and amazement.”

Swingin’ Circus Cabaret, The Abbey, Nicholls, Saturday, August 24 and matinee, Sunday, August 25. Book at


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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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