Windsor Circus School Presents
IN THE RING
A Blog Series by
Student Services Coordinator
Welcome back to In The Ring, the monthly Monday blog delivered to you fresh from the front desk of the Windsor Circus School. Our goal with today’s post is to help you forget that summer sun is slowly being replaced with textbooks and office lighting with the help of some pretty amazing people: Buskers. From street musicians to fire jugglers, there’s something about a talented busker that allows people to reminisce their carefree youth and return to that bewildered wide-eyed child in all of us. We at the Windsor Circus School and our friends at the Walkerville Brewery, LiUNA! 625, Good Neighbour restaurant, Blackburn Radio and some other amazing sponsors, are very proud to present this years Buskerville Festival happening August 10-12 in Walkerville. Three days of local, travelling, and most importantly extremely talented buskers paired with the teaching talents of your school truel is sure to entertain and surprise. Check out some more info on the event here and we hope to see you all there!
In preparation of Buskerville, we’re going to discuss some history of busking, because frankly anything with this much politics, hard work and life or death is always a good story.
Busking and street performance dates as far back as we have records, almost 5000 years. Travellers from Rome brought the word Busking to England, however every major culture in the world has some sort of street performing history dating back to the beginning. It was an extremely common job for musicians, especially in medieval France, known as Troubadours, German buskers as Minnesingers, Mariachis in Mexico and Chindonya in Japan, and has transformed into spectacles such as in today’s Bangladesh, children as young as 8 pay for their schooling through street performance break dancing. Wherever there is someone making money, there is a law about how it can be done, and buskers were and are no exception.
The first record of laws specific to buskers was in 462 BC in Ancient Rome, the Law of Twelve Tables. This law made it so that performing a public musical or theatrical parody of the government and its officials was punishable by death. 1530 marks the year performance licencing was first initiated by Henry the VIII, similar to laws that are still active today, without all of the, you know, death penalties.
Fast forward to the 1970s. A young traveler by the name of Guy Laliberté had just quit college in Canada to travel Europe. Laliberté travelled as a busking folk musician and by his return to Canada in 1979 having learned the art of fire breathing. Returning home to Quebec meant real work, so leaving busking behind he started work at a hydroelectric power plant. Three days later the plant went on strike. Instead of returning to work, with the help of his friends Daniel Gauthier and Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy’s unemployment insurance, the busking festival "La Fête Foraine" was created. After two runs of the annual event, the Quebec government gave Laliberté a $1.5 million grant.
This grant was for Guy to host a production for Quebec's 450th anniversary celebration of the French explorer Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. This grant allowed Guy to create his production masterpiece, "Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil". Cirque du Soleil is now the largest theatrical production in the world.
Busking is an always evolving spectacle, needing to keep up with changing times and technological advances. Street musicians are now no longer limited to acoustic instruments with portable amplifiers, and circus act equipment is now regulated and produced in standard sizing with safety in mind. With all of these improvements, there is still so much to be said for classic acts. Fire eating started as a spiritual tradition in india, taking your already intense act and adding a contortion element is not an easy feat, and there is always something heavier, more awkward, or more dangerous to juggle. With that being said, we hope you are excited to join us for the Buskerville celebration. The performers for this event are full-time buskers with thousands of hours of training underneath their hats. They love tips, compliments, large crowds and the truly honest bewildered wide-eyed child to come out in all of us.
For more information visit www.buskervillefest.com, next months post will have all of the updates and photos. See if you can pick yourself out of the crowd!