As spring begins its slow, sporadic thaw, we find ourselves thinking of the crisp early autumn days when Midnight Circus in the Parks is touring Chicago neighborhoods. This year, the Little Big Top was graced with a talented quartet of acrobats we call the Quebec 4.
- Willem McGowan – Diabolo and Juggler from Oak Park, Illinois
- Adam Strom – Acrobat from Brisbane, Australia
- Owen Winship – Porter and Acrobat from Victor, Idaho
- Meghane Poulette – Flyer from Bordeaux, France
During the 2017 tour, our Director of Development, Julie Dickinson, sat down with the Quebec 4 to get some real talk about circus. Topics include: why the circus can be a male-dominated industry, the best schools to study hand-to-hand acrobatics, the most lively juggling competition, and what they do when they’re not touring with the little big top, and why they find Chicago to be so special.
Give a listen to their interview. It's long, but it's worth it! And once you're done, let us know what you think of the new format with a comment on our facebook page.
See the performers in action!
Book says he creates material by taking into account every element of the performance–setting, music, costume, etc., along with whichever skills he wants to feature. Usually his knack for physical comedy wins out, says Book. “Ultimately, the material needs to serve my passion for acting like a goofball in the circus ring,” he says.
Frédérique Hamel, known to most as Fred, and her brother Christophe, were highly energetic kids growing up in Quebec City. Their mother, a college athletics teacher, heard about a new circus school for children at the Circus School of Quebec and signed them up. Fred started circus at 7 years old and hasn’t stopped yet.
At just 3 years of age, Maxwell Jenkins stepped into the Midnight Circus Ring. His feet were so small then, that both of them fit into a single hand of the Ringmaster (his Dad) as he precariously raised Maxwell high over his head.
During the 2017 tour, our Director of Development, Julie Dickinson, sat down with the Quebec 4 to get some real talk about circus.
Melvin Diggs’ strength and athleticism is beyond amazing. Picture doing a pull-up while holding yourself horizontally half way up a pole. Yes. Melvin can do this.
Sidney ‘Iking’ Bateman is not only an extraordinary circus artist but also an extraordinary human being. Sidney was born in North St. Louis, an area he describes as worse than Ferguson – the neighborhood brought to national attention by the protests that followed shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. Sidney is one of eight siblings who grew up doing flips in their back yard – a family tradition he shared with his brothers and uncles.
Regina Meirmanova was born to be a circus star. Her father Nourbol, from Kazakhstan, studied at the world-famous Moscow State Circus School. When he graduated in 1980, his first professional gig took him to Orenburg, Russia. There, he met Svetlana, Regina’s mother. As Svetlana tells it, she was working in a store. It was her first day on the job after graduating from college. Nourbol walked in, pointed to her and said, ‘she is the one.’ A year later, they were married and touring the world as circus artists.
Justin Durham started his journey to the circus at the ripe old age of 3. His mother, an administrator at Evanston hospital simply couldn’t get Justin to stop climbing, well…EVERYTHING! So she did the next best thing and channeled all that energy and talent into classes and camps at the Actor’s Gymnasium.
Patrick Tobin hails from a tight knit Boston, Massachusetts’s family. His father is an Engineer, his mother an Elementary School Principal, and his two brothers are studying to be an accountant and engineer respectively.
So naturally Patrick Tobin…or as we call him PT…would end up being a Tight Wire Walker in the circus!
Pit Bulls, Pit Mixes, Bully Breeds...the term can be used interchangeably to describe a wide variety of dog types that disproportionately fill animal shelters in Chicago and throughout the country.
Lola, Junebug and Rosie Rae, the four-legged stars of Midnight Circus in the Parks over the years, also happen to fall into this category.