ROTTERDAM – Kerstcircus Ahoy has pretty much everything fans expect to find in a circus, from trapeze artists and acrobats to jugglers and clowns, including the disarmingly charming Austrian clown, Don Christian. But this popular wintertime event, which has been captivating audiences for over a half-century, doesn’t stop there.
Drawing unique acts from across the world, Kerstcircus Ahoy, which recently completed its 51st season of joy, served up performances that totally surprised anyone who entered Ahoy arena expecting to see typical circus fare. From “Space Elements,” the human pyramid builders from Ukraine to RCC Aruba and their stunning Caribbean-inspired springboard act, to the gravity-defying young Austrian Stefan Dvorak, this circus featured entertainment that went “above and beyond” (often quite literally) to exceed all expectations.
Supporting these performances and adding to the excitement of the circus was a colorful, and sometimes dramatic, lighting design by Ricky Bouckenhove of Live Systems that featured 70 CHAUVET Professional fixtures.
Bouckenhove, who has been lighting the renowned circus for 24 years, relied on a mainly blue and white color palette to highlight its 12 different acts, which featured performers from 16 different nations.
At the circus’ center ring, he hung 24 Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures on the 19-meter circular truss. Drawing on the 440W light cannon’s 16-bit dimming, he was able to have smooth fades at the conclusion of acts. Moreover, the fixture’s tight zoom allowed him to focus light where he wanted it without spill over.
Bouckenhove also arranged 14 Maverick MK2 Wash fixtures on the floor around the edges of the circular ring. These units lit aerial acts, while also colorizing the track itself. An additional 20 MK2 Wash fixtures enhanced the circus’ magical ambience by backlighting the area. At selected points during the circus, the wash fixtures were also used to create a dramatic effect by silhouetting the performers.
There were also 12 Color STRIKE M motorized strobe-washes in Bouckenhove’s rig. He used these versatile fixtures to light the stands and to underscore high-impact moments with strobe effects.
Speaking of his lighting system for the circus, Bouckenhove noted: “Since the acrobats regularly needed target points, it was important that these points were programmed in the correct position and that the moving lights maintained the correct pan and tilt values.”
Given Bouckenhove’s high degree of planning, and the reliability of his rig, the lighting for Kerstcircus Ahoy came off smoothly. There were, he says, “no surprises” during the circus.
That is, of course, how it should be. In a circus, the delightful surprises should take place in the performance areas, while reliable “no-surprise” lighting supports the show with the precision of the best acrobatic artist.