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City The circus comes to town for aspiring young performers; National Circus School auditions local youth as part of nationwide search for new talent Ilana Belfer Ottawa Citizen 607 words 5 November 2012 Ottawa Citizen OTCT Final B5 English Copyright © 2012 Ottawa Citizen About a dozen kids and teens piled into the Kali Andrews Dance Academy on Sunday to tumble, leap and do the splits. Ask them what they want to be when they grow up, and they'll say circus performers. But gone are the days when children had to run away to join the circus. On Sunday, the circus came to them by way of a stop on the National Circus School's annual pre-selection tour.

TD "At dance, they were saying she was really good at the acrobatics," Alison Smerek said, describing her 11-yearold daughter, Ami. "She saw a Cirque du Soleil show and said, 'I'd like to do that.'" On the tour, staff from the Montreal school travel across Canada to scout prospective students aged nine to 17, aspiring circus performers whose specialties can range from juggling to contortion to trampoline. This year, they'll hit 20 cities from Halifax to Vancouver, to test students on things such as flexibility, strength and co-ordination. Students who make the cut will get invited to the final audition: an entrance exam that takes place in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver each February. The school offers high school, college and summer camp programs. Valerie Desormeaux, a recent graduate from Ecole Secondaire publique De La Salle, said she's hoping to make it into their college program. It's her fifth time auditioning for the school. "I was doing rhythmic gymnastics and I just loved it too much, but I didn't want to go into it because all you can do is go to the Olympics," she said. Instead, she opted for circus performance. De-sormeaux specializes in aerial silk, which involves climbing and swinging - without safety lines - from a fabric that's suspended from the ceiling, as well as striking poses on it. It's not crazy for Desormeaux to bank on job opportunities in the circus arts field, according to Laurence Cardin, who does media relations for the school. She said the job rate post-graduation is close to 100 per cent.

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"The circus is really growing right now," said Cardin. "Cirque du Soleil alone hires 1,500 artists on close to 20 touring shows. ... You could say there's a shortage of high-level circus performers because there's not many schools in the world that train circus artists if we compare it to an arts discipline like arts or music." Cardin said the National Circus School is one of two circus schools in North America. To pursue her dreams, Desmoreaux stressed the importance of moving to Montreal, which she considers a circus arts mecca. "Ninety per cent of the circus stuff in Canada is in Montreal, so if you want to become a circus artist that's the place to go," she said. Kali Wegg, who owns the Kali Andrews Dance Academy, offered an explanation: "In Quebec, they see circus as an art, whereas in Ontario they don't," she said. She smiled as she talked about her nephew, Kyle, who auditioned, and his dreams of becoming a clown. It's no surprise. The circus is in his blood. Wegg's sister, his aunt, travelled with Cirque du Soleil's Quidam after graduating from circus school. All four of his aunts are dance instructors. "It's my dream to go to circus school," he said. "(Acrobatics) makes me feel free." The Gatineau audition is set to take place Friday at the Centre Sportif de Gatineau-Unigym. CO IN NS RE PUB AN cirsol : Le Cirque du Soleil Inc i97412 : Theaters/Entertainment Venues | i974121 : Performing Arts Companies | ilea : Leisure/Arts gscho : School | gdabal : Dance/Ballet | gcat : Political/General News | gedu : Education | gent : Arts/Entertainment cana : Canada | caon : Ontario | montre : Montréal | vancv : Vancouver | cabc : British Columbia | caqc : Quebec | namz : North America Ottawa Citizen Document OTCT000020121105e8b50001d

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