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Carnival of the Animals

“. . . a delightful and unique experience for children (and their grown ups)” – Australian Stage, Australia

The Circa Carnival comes to town with whimsical tales of creatures of land and sea, who tumble, fly, leap and spin their way through the many wondrous worlds of the animal kingdom.

Our zebras juggle and flip. Our kangaroos skip and somersault. We’ve elephants with street-cred and rhythm. And even our dinosaur bones shake, clatter and roll to the music.

Carnival of the Animals whisks you away on a thrilling circus escapade inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns delightful salute to feathers, fur and fins. Circa’s acrobats bring this classical music suite to life for a whole new generation of circus, music and animal lovers.


World premiere Brisbane, Australia 2014
Toured Australia, France, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, South Korea, Austria
Performers 7
Duration 50 minutes


Lynne Lancaster, Sydney Arts Guide, September 21 2015, ‘Circa Presents Carnival of the Animals at the Sydney Opera House’

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

While marketed as part of the Kids at The House season as it is school holidays, this is an enthralling work for all ages. Opening with a tense Comedie Francaise three bangs of the cane from the Ring Mistress , Circa from Brisbane have developed a dazzling show based on Camille Saint- Saens work.

Devised by director Yaron Lifschitz and a highly talented team including lighting designer Jason Organ and the black and white costuming by Libby McDonnell it combines death defying circus stunts, clowning , dance music, circus humour and a great use of multi-media. The amazing cast appear boneless and are full of exuberant energy. Some of the acrobatics are jaw dropping.

All the animals in the original are included, and more! The adjusted score accompanies and melds with every exciting moment on stage ranging from quirky, unexpected live elements to the floating and rolling sounds that take the audience underwater.

The cast is like a troupe of strolling players in their black and white costumes with ruffled collars. Opening their suitcases they morph into the various animals /sea creatures /insects with figurative fur, feathers and fins. They become everything from dry, desiccated dinosaur bones, to bats, fish, penguins, kangaroos and assorted other animals. Lets not forget the butterflies!

Throughout there is lots of tumbling, balancing etc. At one point– for the kangaroos– there is a huge very difficult skipping and balancing section and features a Russell Drysdale like illustration in the background. There are also some exquisite aerial acts, hula hooping and more! In this version the Swan is a male and there are assorted allusions to the traditional ‘’Swan Lake’’. Beautiful use is made of billowing pieces of blue cloth.

Towards the end there is a wonderful sequence with red balloons (lady bugs ?) – several large balloons are floated, passed, caught and tossed through the audience and eventually returned. In another delightful section the young children loved there is a ‘shark attack’ where the cast as sharks (or are they dolphins?) dart through the audience ‘kissing ‘them .

Rap and break dancing segments are also included. Choreographically there are hints of Fosse and ‘Chicago’ as well as Murphy’s ‘Some Rooms ‘. Quincy Grant terrifically blends Camille Saint-Seans’ well known melodies with his own contemporary compositions. Flamenco rhythms as well as cajon, melodica, ukelele, guiro, whistle and didgeridoo are included. The young children in the audience absolutely loved it and so did the adults accompanying them.

A dazzling, delightful performance for all over 3 years old.

Greg Elliott, In Daily Adelaide, May 27 2015, ‘Circa’s Carnival of the Animals’

Is there a more joyous sound than a roomful of children laughing and squealing with delight? Circa’s Carnival of the Animals is inspired by French composer Saint-Saens’ beautiful music, and the acrobatics and animal antics of the performers had the young audience at this Come Out festival performance enthralled from beginning to end.

Circa is a circus company dedicated to creating new and challenging works, and it has had several successful overseas tours. In Carnival of the Animals, circus performers are dressed in black and white and adopt the mannerisms of wildlife on land, in the sky and under the sea.

Colourful large-screen animations provide settings which complement the circus portrayals of various animals. The acrobats constantly somersault, cartwheel, tumble, juggle and dance, as well as occasionally singing and playing instruments.

The children loved seeing chickens laying eggs, a reluctant trapeze artist, a pink elephant, skipping kangaroos, penguins and monkeys. Animated sharks caused a quick fright, then blow-up sharks thrilled the youngsters when they swam into the audience. The performers created a large dog with fleas that was followed by red balloons being thrown into the auditorium, much to the surprise and delight of the excited audience.

Every balancing act had an animal theme, and human bridges provided platforms for a musician to climb. The performers also built an impressive iceberg and a dinosaur. Finally, there was a brief solo water ballet.

Carnival of the Animals is non-stop action that continually stimulates its young audience’s imaginations. Circa offers a marvelous experience for children’s early taste of theatre and it demonstrates the infinite possibilities live theatre performance holds for us all.

This show is fantastic enjoyment for young and old: there is something for everybody in this production.

Kelli Rogers, Australian Stage, July 2 2014, ‘Carnival of the Animals Circa and Out of the Box’

Carnival of the Animals is a delightful and unique circus and visual theatre experience for children (and their grownups) that beautifully uses and is inspired by the music of classic French composer Camille Saint-Saens. It’s a lighthearted and enthralling journey through animated animal habitats from city to sea and beyond that the daring and gifted performers from Circa take the audience on.

What Circa and the team of creative minds (Director Yaron Liftschitz, Video Animation Designer Michaela French and Composer/Sound Designer Quincy Grant) have accomplished, and it is as much an applaudable feat as three circus performers balancing upright upon each other shoulders almost as tall as the theatre lighting, is to hold the attention and inspire the imagination of its very young audience for amesn entire 40 minutes. The fun, frantic, fearsome and fantastical range of wonderful circus choreography that has children calling out ‘shark, butterfly and dinosaur’ as they watch wide eyed in awe is a joy for the whole audience. It’s not only the circus spinning aerials, jumping kangaroo skipping rope feats or the balancing long elephant trunk enjoyment that will enthrall but also the stunning visuals. A fabulous array of animated visuals are the larger- than-life story book moving backdrop to the animal and circus antics of the Circa performers.

The Circa performers move and interact with the animations making the performers pop larger than life, in their black and white clown’esque costumes, like living, breathing 3D pages from a picture book. The music frames and compliments each new and exciting moment on the stage from the rolling and floating sounds that take us under the ocean to the quirky live musical elements that randomly appear and disappear on stage.

There is definitely something for the whole family in this performance. Carnival of the Animals will live long in the minds and animal inspired dreams (and perhaps the back yard flights of fancy from bouncing on a trampoline or climbing a tree) of the children and adults who come to view the awesome world created by this wonderful collaboration between QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival and Circa.

Brisbane Kids, June 30 2014, Carnival of the Animals – Out of the Box 2014 Review

Are you looking for a WOW moment for your Brisbane Kid? Or an event they will remember and treasure as one of their fondest childhood memories? The Out of the Box Children’s Festival 2014 presents the world premiere of Carnival of the Animals; a spellbinding and mesmerising performance from the Brisbane based Circa company.

Carnival of the Animals takes you on a wild ride around the world visiting various countries and exciting animals with a back drop of stunning digital animations and beautiful music. This acrobatic marvel is a spectacle not to be missed.

As the lights dimmed and the music started, a lone clown wanders onto the stage, commanding the audience’s attention before a whirlwind of acrobatic feats draw you in and have you sitting on the edge of your seat one minute and roaring with laughter the next. The little voices around us filled the darkness with “oohhs” and “aahhs” and many “wow’s!” As the performers twisted and contorted, sprang and leapt across the stage, the audience followed a huge variety of animals in their habitats across the world. From the Polar Regions to the depths of the oceans, and the tops of the trees down to the desserts, and even into a circus arena, Carnival of the Animals takes you into the amazing world of animals. As the lights returned and the performance ended the whispers of excited children started again. “That was magic!” “Another one mummy, can we see it again?!” “Wow awesome…”.

Carnival of the Animals is about wild imagination, explosions of magic and comical humour that speaks to everyone, especially children. There are fun audience participation moments contrasted with sombre beauty and then rollicking humour. Carnival of the Animals is one of those has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed type performances. It is so incredibly special and unique it will be a huge hit with the entire family… A WOW moment to live in their hearts forever.


Created by Yaron Lifschitz with the Circa Ensemble
A production by Circa and QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival

Director Yaron Lifschitz
Technical Director/Lighting Designer Jason Organ
Video Design Michaela French
Sound Designer/ Composer Quincy Grant
Set Design Yaron Lifschitz, Jason Organ, Libby McDonnell and Michaela French,
Costume Design Libby McDonnell

International Representation
Wolfgang Hoffmann / Aurora Nova (Worldwide, except territories below)
David Lieberman / David Lieberman Artists’ Representatives (USA, South America, Canada)
Danielle Kellie / Circa (Australia / New Zealand)
Yaron Lifschitz / Circa (New Creations / Collaborations / Big Dreams)

Circa acknowledges the assistance of the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. This project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Ministry for the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund. 

Tour Dates

Past Dates

Date City Venue
24th February 2018 Pittsburgh, USA Byham Theater
10th March 2018 Blacksburg, USA Moss Arts Centre
14th - 15th March 2018 Richmond, USA Modlin Centre for the Arts, University of Richmond
21st April 2018 Iowa, USA Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa
4th November 2018 Urbana, USA Krannert Center
18th November 2018 Purchase, USA The Performing Arts Centre

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