Ignite the Night – A Toronto Circus Night Benefits Street Children in Cusco

“Tonight a dream has come true”, said G.A.P Adventures CEO and founder Bruce Poon Tip. About a year ago he and a few of his team members at the Planeterra Foundation, G.A.P’s non-profit organization, sat together and brainstormed about a big fundraising event until someone said “Let’s throw a circus”.

Well, and a circus they threw last night….. Zero Gravity Circus provided 2.5 hours of jaw-dropping colorful and amazing entertainment, the more-than-capacity crowd at the Hall at Toronto’s downtown Steamwhistle Brewery was in absolute awe and cheering wildly.

When I got there at 7 pm things were a little more sedate. The stage was still being set up, and the bar area where the silent auction was going to be held had been set up already and a few G.A.P employees were around, finishing last-minute touches. The Silent Auction include a variety of fabulous items:

– G.A.P Adventures trips to Costa Rica & Peru

– A round trip air ticket Toronto to Lisbon with Air Transat

– A Stratford Theatre Get A Way – 2 tickets to the Stratford Theatre & overnight stay at Bentley’s

– Professional Chef services – a gourmet 4 course dinner for 4 in your home by Vanessa Yeung (Bistro at Home)

– A Fuji film digital camera -S3000

– A gift Certificate for a pair of Blunstone boots

– A framed Guatemalan Market Photo – by Paul Teolis

– Diesel Fitness Memberships

– Personal Training by Tranz4m Inc.

– Platinum Seats to an upcoming ACC event

– Hand Crafted Jewellery by Tanya Tkachenko

– Peruvian Woven Table linen made by The women of the Ccaccaccollo Community, weaving book &aArt piece by JJ Nicol

– A manicure & pedicure at the Beauty Exchange

– A Sky Dive from SWOOP – Independant Jump

– Dinner for 6 at the Bright Pearl Restaurant

– Dinner for 2 at Thuet Restaurant

– Dinner at Focaccia Restaurant

From about 8 pm onwards people started rolling in and the steady stream of onlookers didn’t stop. A violinist on stilts and two other colourful elevated characters were entertaining the pre-show crowd.

And when the show got going at about 9 pm, every seat in the house was full and people were standing on the sides and in the back of the theatre. In his welcome speech, Bruce even tried to persuade members of his staff to give up their chairs in return for a free beer at the Steamwhistle Brewery, that’ s how full the theatre was.

Bruce Poon Tip welcomes the crowd

Bruce is certainly an icon in Toronto. One of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, he came from humble beginnings as a child of a Chinese-Trinidadian immigrant family who settled in Calgary. Blessed with a keen sense of adventure and entrepreneurial talent he left for the greener pastures of Toronto and in his early twenties he started G.A.P Adventures, now one of the world’s leaders in small group adventure travel and a company dedicated to social causes and environmentally sustainable travel. Bruce has won many prestigious awards for his entrepreneurial achievements and his dedication to social and environmental causes. No doubt he is a charismatic figure and the media’s extensive coverage of him attests to Bruce Poon Tip’s ability to fascinate a crowd.

A street kid in Peru shares his story

After Bruce’s introductory words, we saw a just released film on the big screen about Planeterra’s initiatives in Cusco. The local director of the drop-in centre in Cusco spoke about the street children and images graphically illustrated the poverty of these children and the fact that this organization makes such a difference in these children’s lives by housing, feeding, educating and providing them with psychological support.

Then the big event was ready to kick off and the MCs, Foo and Feso, two theatrical clowns from Zero Gravity Circus, came out to welcome the crowd. Throughout the entire performance Feso never spoke while Foo talked a mixture of French and extraterrestrial gibberish, with the odd comprehensible English word thrown in to help the crowd get her point. Foo mainly relied on voice inflection, facial expressions, gestures and body language to make herself understood and the two provided a wonderful humoristic duo guiding the audience throughout the show.

Foo and Feso, MCing the event

At one point Foo called for a volunteer from the audience and a young man with a t-shirt saying “Bite Me’ got up on stage and joined the two MCs for a trick with a spinning plate on a stick. At various times during the show Feso juggled or did fire tricks and at some point he even included a running chain saw in his juggling act.

An audience member masters the spinning plate technique

The first official act in the show was a Hula Hoop Act featuring a beautiful Oriental woman who at some point had in excess of 6 hula hoops twisting around her body at the same time. Her lithe body contorted itself in all sorts of virtually impossible shapes while she kept the hula hoops spinning, always with an angelic smile on her face.

Hula hoop act

Fire artists were next: 2 young women with lit fire boxes on wires were twirling their illuminated tools according to their choreography and came together in perfect unison. An aerial rope artist came out next and performed unbelieavable stunts, often suspended in the air by only one foot. A duo of plate spinners then had the crowd in awe when at some point they had 6 plates spinning on sticks that were mounted on a table, and 6 additional plates spinning on the table’s surface in between. Every few seconds they had to go back and re-spin the plates to make sure they wouln’t drop.

2 fire artists

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