With the upcoming CIMAC (International Congress of Juggling and Circus Arts) this September, the juggling and circus world in Chile is bracing for an international infusion of creators even while it prepares to share the unique nature and spirit of Chilean circus and juggling. Even as far back as back as 2004, Chile’s contribution to the juggling world has been well-established and was recognized by The Washington Post with their article They Took Juggling Balls and Ran With Them.
One of the forces behind this major congress of juggling and circus is Javier Morales, circus artist himself (clown and juggling). Morales is the director of the circus company Malabicirco and also director of CIMAC. His company Malabicirco is the oldest contemporary circus company in Valparaíso, Chile, made up of 10 grassroots members who “love the circus, the performing arts, independence and freedom”. We spoke with Morales about the plans for CIMAC in 2021 and the types of adaptations they have made to assure the event not only survives but thrives during the pandemic.
Kim Campbell: What is CIMACs mission?
Javier Morales: To produce joy, amazement and knowledge around the circus for the Chilean family and artists from South America.
KC: When and how long will CIMAC be this year?
JM: CIMAC 2021 will be performed in September from Thursday the 2nd to Sunday the 12th. This year CIMAC will be in online format for a big percentage of the time. There will be fewer activities in person so there is no open call this year, but there will be more public acts like a wireman crossing two big buildings to surprise people in transit, and visiting some neighborhoods in Valparaíso with a circus truck.
KC: Can you tell us some confirmed performers at CIMAC? Will there be a headliner? Are there keynote speakers?
JM: This year we’re going to have a four-hour master class by Gandini Juggling. Craig Quat will be giving a fifteen-hour seminar about functional juggling and Bartolomé Silva who is the founder of Circo del Mundo Chile (Cirque du Monde) will be participating with an eight-hour seminar on staging for circus artists. In addition to this, there will be the Gala Show with the best Chilean circus artists.
KC: What edition is it of CIMAC ?
JM: This edition will be the 12th version–we started with the first in 2009. We had to stop in 2018 because of some strikes on the building where we celebrate CIMAC. There was an occupation by some people in that place.
KC: Javier, tell us about yourself and your circus background.
JM: I started to enjoy and train circus at the age of 16, first as a hobby. At the age of 18 I went to theUniversidad de Playa Ancha (UPLA) to study Translation and Interpretation English- Spanish. During the process of that career (five years) I started to take some workshops and seminars about circus and theatre in Chile and Argentina. My disciplines were in circus are juggling and clowning. Then in the process of teaching circus to children and teenagers, I decided to get a graduate degree in education. And in 2020 I planned to travel to Zaragoza, Spain, because I got a scholarship to study my master’s degree in live Shows, but because of the pandemic situation I have to study online. Now I have a master’s degree in live shows from San Jorge University. Since 2007 I’ve been the artistic director of Malabicirco Circus Company, the oldest circus company in Valparaíso City. I have written and directed nine creations. Since 2009, I have been the general director of CIMAC.
It is a big culture–you can see sport juggling, street juggling and stage juggling in Chile. We have really good jugglers in our country.
KC: How many people work on your team and are planning CIMAC as a year-round job?
JM: Sixteen people compose the principal CIMAC team (production, communication, audiovisual, and artistic areas). Then during the activities, for this year, it is almost 70 people including artists, technicians and others taking part in the event.
KC: Do you get support from the government and local businesses to organize the festival?
JM: Over the 12th years of the event we have gotten support from the government three times 2017, 2019 and 2021. In Chile, you have to apply for the financing and wait and pray a lot. Local businesses are not too involved with artistic events.
KC: How did you get the idea to produce this festival originally?
JM: This idea arose with the goal of celebrating World Juggling Day (in June). Then we modified the title of the event to CIMAC because of the characteristics of the activities (we added other circus disciplines) and we looked for other dates for the celebration, because in June it it rains a lot in Chile, and it is winter. From 2019 we started to celebrate it in August. During the process of the event (2009-2021) we looked for moments in circus to discuss disciplines, teaching, learning, showing and creating.
KC: How important is juggling in Chile?
JM: Juggling is the massive discipline of circus in Chile, partly because the most immediate circus discipline that you have for learning is juggling. It is a big culture–you can see sport juggling, street juggling and stage juggling in Chile. We have really good jugglers in our country.
KC: What types of shows will there be in this edition?
JM: The Gala event at CIMAC will be performed by artists of traditional and contemporary circus, from different disciplines like juggling, unicycles, ball balance, trapeze, acrobats and more.
Then we will present Eureka — a show created in collaboration with Malabicirco (contemporary circus) and Golden Circus (traditional circus). The world of classical clown routines has disappeared, replaced by the dramaturgy of the show.
We’re going to have two vehicles that will go to the different neighborhoods of the city. The first one is the truck of circus called Circo a tu Ventana (Circus to Your Window) and the second one is Comando RIE that is directed by Tuga, a well-known Chilean mime.
To the public, we will be presenting the performance of Crossing Lives. A man on wire will cross the wire from one building to another. At 20 meters tall this will be a test for this really risk circus act.
KC: Do you notice any circus trends emerging in Chile and do they affect the tone and content of your events?
JM: Contemporary and traditional are the trends that lead the circus process in Chile. We’re the unique event in Chile that invites these two lines of circus to participate in CIMAC, and the experience of having all together has been absolutely great, with just positive results.
The general impression is very good since the event has congress characteristics and has a high pedagogical approach, not only for circus artists but also for non-circus children and families.
KC: What types of workshops will there be this year and who are they for?
JM: We have three seminars for professional circus artists, Staging for Circus Artists (Bartolome Silva), Functional Juggling (Craig Quat) and Juggling and Movement (Gandini Juggling).
We have five workshops for people and families; Slapstick and Clown (Malabicirco), Magic (Samyr Dorado), Juggling (Alvaro Palominos), Bubbles (Dirck Pajares) and Puppets. Besides we’re going to have a first aid workshop for artists and the general audience.
KC: People come from around the world to attend–do they leave with a better understanding of the importance of circus in Chile?
JM: People from different countries come to participate in CIMAC activities. The general impression is very good since the event has congress characteristics and has a high pedagogical approach, not only for circus artists but also for non-circus children and families. Conversations, talks, and conferences are generated that also bring the circus closer to the academic world. In this way, the topics covered are very varied and of general interest. Foreign artists are surprised with the level of production of the event, and obviously, this cross between traditional and contemporary circus artists draws their attention.
The guests and attendees are able to visualize the great traditional circus culture that exists in Chile, since the traditional circus is an intangible heritage in our country. The contemporary circus has burst into full force in the last thirty years in our country, with many companies in different regions and a great background in social work.
All photos provided by CIMAC.