Performers with IGNIO rehearsed the final scene in their upcoming show “Bend or Break” (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria circus company brings international performers to a local stage

IGNIO’s ‘Bend or Break’ will run from May 30 to June 2

Professional circus performers tucked into a small local studio have been practicing their flips and lifts in anticipation of an upcoming show.

IGNIO Circus Company is a Victoria-based performance troupe that aims to bring stars from mammoth companies like Cirque du Soleil and The 7 Fingers to a local stage.

For weeks the group, comprised of seven people from Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, have choreographed a new comedic show called Bend or Break, an acrobatic show that focuses on different perspectives.

“Often when we think of circus we think of lions and tigers and this traditional circus world, whereas there’s this whole other realm of circus that exists as a mix of acrobatics, theatre and dance,” said Kaeyln Shmitt, director of IGNIO, which she founded two years ago. “The goal is to make circus here and make it accessible to Vancouver Island.”

The show will work with hand-held lights and raincoats as part of the props in a 75-minute performance that includes hand balancing, contortion, hula hoops, partner acrobatics, pendulum poles and aerial silks.

“It’s not all sparkles and glitters and spandex in terms of circus, it’s very human and very pedestrian and the performers are all super talented,” Schmitt said.

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The performers do more than go through the motions, they are active in designing the show too.

“For bigger companies you get less and less of a say as the size increases, but there’s seven of us and that’s it,” said Nathan Price, a performer with IGNIO. “We each have this equal opportunity to have our say and throw our ideas in.”

Mandi Orozco, also a performer, believes Schmitt’s decision to choose performers from around the world really makes this show stand out.

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“She chose to take a high-class level of circus artists from the other side of the world to here to expose Victoria to contemporary circus,” Orozco said. “It’s a huge undertaking that people could easily underestimate how much work and time and money goes into a production that’s only here for five shows, and that in itself is worth Victoria coming and checking it out. “

Bend or Break will run from May 30 to June 2 at the Metro Studio Theatre at 1411 Quadra St.

For more information or to purchase tickets, you can visit

Tickets range in price from $28-$36.

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