Tom McKinnon swings back and forth on a double rope. As he gains momentum, hanging from the ceiling of the circus dome, he moves faster and faster. He readies himself and gracefully twirls around the rope, and lowering himself, he breathtakingly swings by his feet, up and down, across and sideways.
McKinnon is just one of a host of acts that as the name of the circus he's featured in denotes, will enchant audiences when the Enchanted Cirque opens its doors for a run of almost two months.
The circus itself is a spectacle to be feasted on, imported from Belgian and crafted and constructed by Belgian tent master Rik Klessens. It's studded with a myriad of reflective mirrors, that refract the light as it pours magically into the ring, creating a wonderland of colour and shining angles.
Brought to Cape Town by Showcasting, the circus is the brainchild of Sebastian Cassie and Michael Carrigan. Cassie, the executive producer, has lived in Sydney for 15 years and switched from being a lawyer to creating this forum for talented acts.
"There's a difference between paid well as a lawyer and leaving one of the parties happy and the other unhappy and and between being creative and seeing the joy and wonder on someone's faces for two hours when they get transported into another world," he says, as we sit in the tent while rehearsals are underway.
"I came back after living in Sydney for all these years, and stepped onto the airport tarmac back home and thought instead of doing something 'same,same', why don't we do something different where we can invest in this country. This is just the beginning."
So he approached the City and procured one of the large parking lots adjacent to the Green Point stadium, where the circus is set up until the end of October. He and partner Carrigan have already been involved in producing a string of circus shows, musical theatre and stage shows (that is after he left his law career) and, says Cassie, have brought in some top international acts, to provide a "wonderful mix of top talent". They plan to establish their head office for their brand of entertainment in this country.
"The philosophy is to get as many performers from as many countries as possible. This is such a beautiful platform and in a world where there's so much strife they can also learn from one another and about each other's culture," he says.
Similar to the old Madame Zingara, under the big top there'll be gourmet sustenance to fuel up audiences as they watch the acts - a VIP bar, an oyster and bubbly booth and Cassie says, they have employed the services of catering company Ginger & Lime who will make a range of sharing platters as well as tapas servings - anything from a "local is lekker" South African plate with biltong, samoosas and a mini potjie to a cheese and charcuterie plate to luxury cured salmon or beef tataki treats. All served by a band of roving waiters who will move between the tables that are currently being set up around the ring.
Aside from McKinnon, I was also treated to a sneak preview by bubble magic man Thomas Favaro. He does amazing things with bubbles blowing them out of a large ring and creating shapes and breaking them up into smaller bubbles and they dance gently in front of him. Mesmerised would be about the right word to use as you watch this simple, deceptively childlike but highly skilled act going on. He also sets light to his bubbles in a dramatic flourish.
The young man and I chat in a mix of broken English and my very basic Italian to understand each other. Favaro comes from a small town near Florence and was trained by one of Italy's first bubble masters nine years ago. "The bubble lives. It feels your pain. You have to create your own personal formula and find your own solution for making it look the way you want. How you blow the ring once you have dipped it into the soapy formula is what determines its shape and size," he explains.
He searched high and low (excuse the pun) for the right formula from which to create his bubbles and eventually had to import it from Italy in concentrated form.
He says the art of entertaining children and adults with bubbles is a growing art and somehow it appeals to audiences who see the beauty and almost mystical quality of it. He tells me there are only about 10 master bubble makers in the whole of Italy and he's one of them.
Favaro is also the circus's laser man. "With the laser I play with light and am looking like a robo cop; with the bubbles I create poetic magic".
Along with this creative, passionate young man, audiences can also look forward a crossbow contortionist, silk artist Orissa Kelly and a heart-stopping knife throwing duo while funny lady Mel Jones and Piky Pokus from Argentina will host the show. And Cassie promises much more.
The show opens on September 7 to mid October on P3 parking in Green Point in front of the Cape Town Stadium. Performances are from Wednesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm and Sunday at 5pm. Tickets cost R250 for entry to the cirque and the show and the after party where a DJ will spin the discs.
To find out more call 074 422 2888 or visit EnchantedCirque.com Doors open at 6.30pm before evening performances and the onsite booking office is open weekdays from 5pm and weekends from 12pm.