More than a balancing act
Everyone remembers when the circus would come to town. Under the big top, performers would wow us with their contortions, trapeze, and mystical feats. As they packed up and left town, the thought of living out a life with the circus was sure to have crossed our minds.
Baton Rouge’s first cirque company is bringing that same mystique to events all around the Capital City. Bayou Cirque was created by the owners of GymFit BR, David Gabel, Eric Otts, Stephanie Lee, John Scott, and Erin Warner, and started in June of last year.
The idea came after Nicole Fearnbach was hired—who performed trapeze for five years and traveled with a flying trapeze group—to teach a trapeze class. Fearnbach was only teaching single trapeze, but trained with Gabel and taught him how to base for doubles.
“Nicole told me to be the second half of a trapeze pair, you have to be strong and you have to have a high pain threshold. And I was pretty sure I qualified for both of those,” Gabel said, who has competed on American Ninja Warrior three times. “I just needed the conditioning. That came rather quickly. So we started with ‘Well, we can do this, so now let’s try this,’ and ‘What else can we do?’ and just put everything together.”
Bayou Cirque has added several other acts alongside the trapeze including contact juggling, standing acrobatics, aerial silks, lyra hoop and circus cube. John Scott, owner and contact juggler, says the cirque has hopes of putting together a full storytelling performance where they can join their fire acts alongside their aerial silks, while hopefully incorporating water entrances and exits.
As for the performers, the cirque has found enthusiasts through the classes they offer. Justin Rayna, a tumbling coach and stunt performer for films, found Bayou Cirque while attending adult tumbling classes. With his background, joining the cirque was a perfect fit while being able to balance it with his everyday life.
“Everyone says they want to run away and join the circus; so it’s nice to know that with two kids, I can still be a part of the circus and be a family man,” said Rayna.
The cirque’s very first performance was for 10/31 Consortium’s Ghostly Gala where the performers wore costumes and created acts around them like a Beauty and the Beast acrobatic performance. Since then they have performed at YelpBR’s Worldly Eats, Love at L’auberge Bridal Expo, Comic-Con in New Orleans, and many others. You can catch their next performance at GymFit Fest on May 26. For more information follow them on Facebook or visit their website bayoucirque.com.
Photos by Sean Gasser