Recently, my friend Tara from British Columbia Mom invited Q and I to check out the Royal Canadian Circus when it stopped in Abbotsford.

I hadn’t been to a real circus before, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Q wondered if there were going to be elephants and tigers, and was a bit bummed when I told him there wasn’t, but was totally cool. I’ve seen a number of Cirque de Soleil shows, but I know that they are not what one would exactly call a circus.

I did a bit of research beforehand, but not too much, because I wanted to be surprised in the moment by each act as they entered the ring. When we arrived, we, and a group of other people, contest winners mostly, were taken on a behind the scenes tour. We got to the the Big Top before anyone else was able to enter, and learned that each time the circus travels to a new city, it takes the crew two days to erect the Big Top tent and get everything set up. The tent itself is over 30 feet tall, and inside it tools pretty much exactly as you’d imagine a circus tent to look. All the performances take place in (and above) the circus ring, as they have for generations, and audience members sit around the ring. We saw the trapeze, the lyra (hoop) and the high wire.

Next, we were taken back through the curtain into the backstage area, to see where the performers wait before their turn. We also saw the outside area, where the stables were and where the performers lived. As it is a traveling show, the performers and their families live in their own RV’s, where they can cook and eat, get ready with costumes and makeup, and have their own space for privacy. This beats the old days of the traveling circus on trains or wagons in my mind!

Most of the performers in the Royal Canadian Circus come from circus families, going back two, five, even as many as twelve generations. Can you imagine? From what I could gather, circus is in their blood. The performers come from all over the world as well, from countries such as Mexico, China, Portugal, Peru and Romania, just to name a few.

Q and I were seated ringside, in special plush seats. We were so close that at one point during the equestrianact, I was hit with horse slobber! Seriously though, they were incredible seats. We were able to see every detail, every wonder and every thrill up close and personal.

Q’s favourite act were the Chinese acrobats. He loved seeing gymnastics moves used in different ways and though the feats of skill were so cool.

I loved all the aerialists, and the strap duo. Both acts were graceful and beautiful, displaying fantastic technical moves with big, showy ones in between.

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