Living the Life of a Composer, Songwriter and Producer: Kevin Saunders Hayes

Vox Lumiere is a soul-pumping concert, dance, and theatrical live production that combines the power of an epic rock concert with the beauty of classic silent films. A captivating, one-of-a-kind experience where musicians, singers, and dancers perform an original score and new songs that propel you forward through a story seamlessly synchronized with the movie.”

Combine silent films telling familiar stories such as “Phantom of the Opera” and  “Peter Pan”, rock concert electricity with an innovative new vision backed by creator Kevin Saunders Hayes and prepare yourself for a firecracker experience.  Watch the video below to get a taste of the experience!

I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at the neighborhood café Paper or Plastik where we started off our discussion about dreams.  His multifaceted career includes composing, songwriting and producing.  Vox Lumiere’s, “Voices of Light” daring show concept intrigued me into finding out the vision behind such a project and what was coming up next.

What about your dreams and journey? I know you have worn many hats in life.

We all have to wear many hats. It continues to be an interesting journey. I started from a love of music and then the journey has taken me to crazy places. I went and played with lots of bands, traveled around the world, gone to school to study music, lived in New York for years, wrote commercials and jingles for television, moved out to LA and scored films and then thought of this crazy idea for this show that has let me again travel around the world.

Trifecta of Doing Art

I get to write music and create something and people pay me to let me perform my music for them and they to seem to really enjoy it. It is a trifecta of doing art. It is not all easy but it is the trade-off. It is a blessing and incredible joy to get to do that. That is the encapsulated version but that is sort of where I am right now and I want to do more of it. It is fun to get on a plane or bus to go someplace new, meet new people and play music.

Inception of Vox Lumiere?

I was living in New York, writing jingles and scores for television and I was doing a lot of commercial paid work. I have a passion for creating my own things so I had been doing a lot of 99 seat theater or guerilla theater as we called it. We would come up with an idea with friends, write a show, find some space, cast our friends in it and find things on the street to make our set and props and do it all for no money. I was doing a lot of that and it was fun and working on as much film work as I could but there was not a lot in New York at that time.

I had this idea of what if I could write these themes for a movie and characters so instead of it being a popular song of the time that they might drop in, what if I took some of the themes that I was writing and put lyrics with them that were appropriate to the scene? My hope was that at the end of the film you would create even more emotional impact and another layer of storytelling. I thought that this was a great idea but no director in his right mind would let me do this so it was one of those ideas that I thought maybe one day.

Discovery

It took one day going to rehearsal and the need for new underwear. So I went into a store stacked to the ceiling with tons of things you don’t need looking for the cheapest underwear. I was wandering around and saw this bin of silent movies for one dollar and I stopped and stared. This idea pops up that since they are silent movies there is no dialogue, nobody owns them and all these people are dead so they can’t get mad at me. So instead of underwear I went home with 5 silent movies. After rehearsal I went home and popped one of these tapes in and I was completely mesmerized and blown away by these movies. They were perfect for what I wanted to do. So I started writing and doing it.

To Los Angeles

In the meantime things brought me to Los Angeles. I found or I felt like I had more free time to work on my own projects and didn’t feel the same pressure I felt in New York. I involved my friends like I always do and they started to ask me what we are doing because it is very cool but strange so I told them.

It begins..

What happened was that through a friend of a friend I got a call about a film festival and if I wanted to perform this silent movie show there. I did not know what he was talking about because I didn’t even think that I had a show. I was told that it won’t be paid but we would be flown out with lodging. I thought that it would be cool and asked “where is the film festival?” The answer was in Avignon, France.

I asked friends if they wanted to go to France for a week even though they would not be paid and we did rehearsals here in town. We never really done it and sure enough we went off and it worked. People really responded to it and we were at the Avignon Opera House which is spectacular and an incredible way to begin a project.

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Come Back Next Year

The head of the opera house said that was great, we loved it and what are you doing for us next year? I was thinking about the other tapes I had and thought that we could do the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I had no idea that I said exactly the right thing because the Hunchback to Parisians, there is no American equivalent in culture, is a national character that goes back hundreds of years with meaning. We went back again the next year and I got some other calls from people that had seen us there. After three or four years of having fun doing that-my lovely wife brought up that people really respond to what I do and I should think about doing something with it.

Next Part of the Journey

How could we do more of this and expand the art form?  It has been an interesting journey of wanting to do something with telling stories better and then have it open up to this whole world of opportunity. You think your life is going in one direction and then you end up somewhere else. I came out here thinking I was going to be the next John Williams in scoring films which I have done plenty of, but now I look where I am where I get to do my music. If it ends tomorrow I am so blessed and how lucky am I? I am not done yet and there is always another chapter or opportunity.

What is the next chapter?

In the past five or six years we have had a great experience and learned a lot about what works or doesn’t. Every time you get more ideas on what you could do creatively they then become possible. It is such a new and different art form and the music doesn’t follow a traditional format with the beginning, middle and end, big clap to next number. We asked if the performers can catch these cues. Creatively there is a never-ending list of possibilities to try and expanding on the art form. It is the process over and over again of thinking something is the hardest thing ever to having something be doable and exciting. We want to keep on exploring.

Show’s Potential

We think that the show has the potential of Cirque de Soleil, Stomp or Blue Man Group with a really strong concept. We already have five different shows. Like Cirque, they have amazing production values, tell stories using circus skills. Vox Lumiere is completely different but we have a theme and a way we tell stories that we can apply to different movies and shows.

Focused Approach: Building and Uniting the Tribe

Touring has introduced the show to a lot of people, but the hard part is uniting the pockets of our tribe and to create momentum and traction out of it. We want to do local shows in Los Angeles maybe once a month and build our local tribe. We would love to become that show in Los Angeles that you can’t get in to see.

When is your first LA based show?

We are looking at December and we believe we will be at a venue called the King King which is on Hollywood Blvd. We hope it will be our home and we are probably going to start with “Phantom.” It is a very cool, sexy, fun production in the space.

Beyond LA

Our next goal is to take the momentum and within 12-18 months to put the show off-Broadway. The goals are not completely egotistically driven. We think off-Broadway is the best way to introduce the most amount of people to the show and to brand it allowing us the opportunity then to branch off again to tour.

What inspires you as an artist?

That is a tough one for an artist because it is always different things. There are so many wonderful and talented artists in LA and New York. My friends are wonderfully talented artists so that serves as inspiration. I am inspired by extraordinary work. It does not matter what it is, it could be something completely not related to what you are doing. I can call and say thank you for creating something that helped me take my brain in that direction for exploration.

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Is there a special moment in your career that really sticks out to you?

I have a lot of memories that fall into different categories. Getting to perform and enjoy being a part of the audience of sitting in back of a theater-movie or performing arts. You get to hear people’s response and how they react to what you have created. It is an incredible feeling to hear the audience laugh at the same thing you thought to be funny. It is really gratifying and nice to know that you set out to tell a story and that people are appreciating it and it is affecting them. Hopefully it causes them to feel and to be inspired to do something extraordinary in whatever it is you do. You don’t have to be in the arts to go and create.

Any advice?

Safe sucks and I don’t mean that in a belligerent or ugly way. Don’t stop creating—keep on making, doing and exploring.

Being an artist is a really hard road to go down because we are compelled to do this. A lot of people don’t understand it. At the same time, we have to make a living out of it. It is two different parts of our world with creating art and then the commerce side.

Whoever hires me always gets 100% where I create what they want and need. There is what you want to create and then what people are buying that could make you money. That is what I have a hard time with. I understand being hired to do your craft, but our jobs as artists are to show people this is what is being explored where there is risk.

It is one thing if something is making you money and people are responding to it, but there is always that area to see if you are challenging your audience at all or challenging yourself? Give your absolute best. Don’t be afraid to try whatever it is because you will never try if you take the safe route. Push the envelope and have the opportunity to make something better even for your client. Don’t get discouraged. Any art form is the toughest thing to get into. Just get up and try it again.

voxlumiereThank you Kevin for being a shining inspiration! I was reminded that everyday tasks like helping someone move can be an adventure.  We are blessed to be alive in a world with so much beauty and opportunity for inspiration!

I hope you fall in love with how Vox Lumiere tells stories and become a member of their tribe! For more information visit their website by clicking here.  Find them on Facebook here!  Find some of their music here! Find more information about Kevin here.

“Ways to Live Forever” Movie

“Ways to Live Forever” is coming to select theaters starting July 19.


The film “Ways to Live Forever” is a poignant look of living with terminal cancer seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Sam played by actor Robbie Kay who chooses to live forever by recording his story.  Sam possesses an inquisitive and courageous soul to face the unknown with openness and honesty.

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Alex Etel as Felix and Robbie Kay as Sam

Joining Sam on his quest to find answers and peace despite a ticking time table is his best friend Felix played by actor Alex Etel.  Their camaraderie and adventures shine light through a spectrum that breaks apart the potentially dark unknown future from what is positively attainable in the present.  Together they are able to start to accomplish Sam’s wishes that include going up down escalators and breaking a world record.

The film mentions the impact of recording your story where experiences can “lodge themselves into people’s hearts” like works of art that are left behind.  What is temporary and what is eternal?  Sam’s character is tested by life’s temporary assignment.

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Robbie Kay as Sam and Ben Chaplin as the father

It is the relationships that enrich the film.  Look out for Sam’s evolving relationship with his father played by actor Ben Chaplin.  There is a turning point of acceptance and understanding.

What could be a cancer battlefield just laden with fear, depression and sadness is a battlefield fought with humor, joy, connection to reality and who matters most.  The movie has moments that will endear the story of Sam and his family to you that can be watched over and over again.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Hancock, the CEO of the Worldwide Motion Picture Corporation.  Since 1977 the WWMPC has been a boutique distributing company that acquires high end independent films from around the world and prepares them for theatrical releases in the United States.

How did the WWMPC get involved with “Ways to Live Forever?”

Our selection process is based on several different criteria.  Primarily it is the scope and feel of the film and if the film has a good sense of a theatrical release.  When you go to see a film in the theater there is a different texture to the film verses a DVD release or something on cable.  We are looking for something that has a big presence with some sort of message or sort of feel.  We are a little bit different in the sense of we don’t cater to the big stars as the studios do but we do have a list of things we look for which can include how the story plays out, cinematography, script, dialogue and acting at a certain caliber.  All of these things sort of blend together and apply to “Ways to Live Forever.”  It didn’t have any major actors but a lot of very good actors that have been in a lot of things over the years that is reflected on screen to form a unique and special motion picture.

The message the film has for pediatric cancer has been fantastic.  It has been really great with the families around the United States who have seen screenings and have just loved it.  The other interesting thing is that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that rates all films called me personally. They told me that when they were rating the film they thought that it was one of the best independent films they had seen in many years and it would be an artifact film.  In other words, it is a film that people can hang on to and keep in their libraries for years to come.

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Robbie Kay as Sam and Ella Purnell as Kayleigh

What do you hope audiences take away from the film?

It is the sense that death is not a permanent situation and that even though one may leave this world their soul if you will or presence on earth with their family continues on and doesn’t evaporate.  The film eloquently expresses even though you may pass away you’re not necessarily going to be forgotten.  That feeling if you really think it through is very powerful and equating that to families that are going through this cancer ordeal with their kids—they want to have that special feeling that even though their child may pass away the child’s memory can be retained for many years to come.  There is a comfort in that.

What is your hope for the film beyond the initial release?

These cities are the initial kickoff and then it will widen out to other cities in the US for the remainder of the year.  Next year we will have a nice DVD release of the film, go to the cable television networks and it will go through the normal process of being released out.  Most importantly, I am happy that our supporters around the United States get to see the film for their own personal use.  It is a film that you can watch over and over again.

Can you explain the partnerships with the various cancer related organizations?

The relationships that we have with these organizations are based on essentially two tiers.  One tier is an official contracted relationship that involves participation on a revenue basis.  Some of the box office money that is received for the film goes back to their research departments to help find cures and help families and they in turn help support the film through their supporters such as John Hopkins in Baltimore, CHOC in Orange County and CHLA in Los Angeles. The second tier are organizations that wanted to be involved who support the film’s story and have become even more supportive as time goes by and get the word out.

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Robbie Kay as Sam and Ben Chaplin as the father

Favorite moments or scenes that stand out to you?

One of the most powerful scenes is with Sam and his father.  Sam is suffering from a seizure of sorts and the father is called to action to try to find some pills in order to get Sam to relax.  It is a poignant moment because the father after finding and giving the pills to Sam expresses that he is panicked.  Sam is the one who remains calm and helps his dad find the pills.  The father then asks who is the son and who is the father?  This moment expresses so many things about the process that people go through in a crisis where people can fall apart sometimes.  Everyone needs to come together to make daily life possible.

Do you have any interesting stories in the making or distributing of this film?

It is all relative to the partnerships of the hospitals, organizations and foundations around the country.  It is the first time that we have ever partnered with organizations on the philanthropic basis.  It is an interesting process partly because it is not done that much in the film industry.  We are sort of blazing a trail in that regard.  It has been very fulfilling in that respect and frustrating in others due to the bureaucracies involved.  Generally speaking it has been very unique.  What we are doing essentially is carving out a specialized audience for the film who are touched by cancer.

Is there anything you want people to know about this film?

The most important thing for people to know is that the film although on the surface may seem like it would be depressing is in reality an uplifting  and positive film.  The film leaves the viewer with a sense of how things really work through families and the disease.  I guarantee you that if you give it a chance you will like the film.

I know you have over three decades worth of experience invested in the film industry.  What inspires you to do what you do?

It has been really a cathartic experience for me over the years.  I originally got into the business in order to experience what it would be like to follow through with a film including the process and how film affects people and the world.  It has been a real unique thing to see the differences that have occurred with the various genres that have played into the film industry, how the film industry affects our society, how media is affected by film and vice versa.  The film industry really has a profound effect on society.  It has been interesting for me to try to bring high quality films to the US that are basically foreign based that audiences in the US may not get a chance to see.

Don’t miss the film “Ways to Live Forever” and catch the film during the initial release beginning July 19, 2013 at the following locations:

 

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AMC Burbank 8 – Burbank, CA
AMC Orange 30 – Orange, CA
AMC Empire 25 – New York, NY
AMC Cherry Hill 24 – Cherry Hill, NJ
AMC Valley View 16 – Dallas, TX
AMC Streets of Woodfield 20 – Chicago, IL
AMC Hampton 24 – Norfolk, VA
AMC Owings Mills 17 – Baltimore, MD

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Main Website: http://waystoliveforevermovie.com/home/

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The Jubilee Project-“Doing Good is Contagious”

The Jubilee Project was founded by three self-proclaimed ordinary guys doing the extraordinary coming from backgrounds including graduating from Ivy League schools, making six figures, working closely with President Obama and pursuing medical school.

Oh, and one more thing—Jason Lee, Eddie Lee, and Eric Lu left all of that—the jobs, money, medical school etc. to pursue being ambassadors of good in dedicating their full time to the Jubilee Project.  What makes their work and labor of love extraordinary goes far behind their worldly accomplishments and right into their willing hearts to make a positive difference.

What is the Jubilee Project and who are these guys that took the giant leap of faith in going all in to solidly back the idea that “doing good is contagious?”

I had the pleasure to sit down with Eddie Lee, one of the co-founders to learn more about Jubilee Project in turning a hobby into a passionate full-time endeavor.

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January 12, 2010 was both Jason’s birthday and the day of the Haiti earthquake.  In addition, this date marked the inception of what would develop into a nonprofit that harnesses the power of film, story and media to reach audiences on important issues dominating the world.  According to the website, “Jubilee Project has produced over 60 videos, supported 15 different causes and organizations, and raised over $30,000” maintaining the mission to inspire others into action.

What began out of Jason’s desire to raise $100 for the Haiti Earthquake relief and one YouTube video of an experience has grown into more films evoking responsive actions from followers or the jubileevers.

“We have found that by telling more stories that are effective, inspirational, filled with hope and joy that we can make a bigger impact not only for the needs of the world but for the kingdom and sharing God’ light to the world,” said Eddie.

quotejbEddie grew to love filmmaking through his experience first interning while in college back in 2007 than putting his school on hold to work for the Obama campaign and the White House.  He was able to capture the growth of what was then a small grassroots campaign and utilize the potential of social media to reach an audience.

“It was an amazing journey to follow Barack Obama around to see him in different situations and post YouTube videos for a year and a half.  I got to know him and see him as a man, father and husband.  I got to learn how to make videos by making a lot of documentaries, human interest and recap videos for the campaign.  After he won I went back to Harvard to finish my degree and just stayed in touch with him and his staff.  I was then asked to come on board and help them in the Department of Education and then the White House.”

However, in August 2012 Eddie and Jason left their jobs and Eric left medical school to move out to Irvine upon a conviction and calling to pursue Jubilee Project full time.  Eddie recalls his departure meeting with the president.  Instead of taking his parents who had already met the president and didn’t want to fly out he took Jason, Eric and Eric’s girlfriend as his family.

“I got to thank him for the opportunity to work for him and he gave us his blessing in terms of moving on.  It was daunting because we were leaving our jobs to pursue something that was very unconventional with no salary, stability or infrastructure at the time.  We thought we had an opportunity that we did not want to miss.  There is no better time to take a big leap of faith than when you are young and are able to do it.  It has been a scary process for us, but it is probably the most fulfilling experience.”

Jubilee Project’s presence has certainly grown and the three guys have their fingers in numerous projects including their very first fellowship program inviting 13 filmmakers to live with them in a rented Newport Beach house for ten days.

“Actors, directors, inspirational leaders and coaches are coming in to talk to them and investing into these filmmakers who we see as the future of YouTube and filmmaking.  We are going to start pouring all the stuff we learned into them.  The fellows are going to work on their own films focusing on Hepatitis B, family reconciliation and on LGBT awareness.  It is an incredible blessing to us that we get to inspire the next generation of filmmakers.  We have a couple of documentaries coming up, short films and more powerful films that we are writing.  We are growing our team and hiring staff to become this institution.  To see it go from this small idea to this huge thing is remarkable.”

Some of the documentaries and films he is referring to cover sex trafficking, ending AIDS in 2015, the story of the “Prodigal Son” coming out in August, epilepsy coming out in July and a narrative story on political activism focusing on the first Asian American presidential candidate.

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How do you choose the topics of your projects?

“A lot of it happens very organically where stories have been inspired by our own past stories. Now, nonprofits are reaching out to us to make films.  It is both us coming to a place where we feel very passionate about certain issues so we want to push the envelope on that and nonprofits coming to us.  It is only three of us right now so there is a limited capacity but the more we grow the more we will be able to take on.  We want to be able to touch almost every issue out there.”

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What are your favorite type of stories to tell?

“You will find that all three of us has own stories we like to tell.  Jason is interested in love stories.  He wrote “Love Language,” “Fireflies, ”and “Picture Perfect.”  Eric is really into real stories so he is behind the “50 people 1 Question” or “Master Chef” based on a true story.  I am really into gritty or darker films such as the “Back to Innocence” or this prodigal son story showing the son’s evolution of experience going into homelessness, prostitution and all that.  We all are different but balance each other out.”

What is your overall vision moving into the future?

“We want to become a production company that makes films that change the world and spark a revolution to change people’s lives.  When you think about films like “Blood Diamond” and “Slumdog Millionaire” and what they did for conflict diamonds and the slums that is what we want to do.  If you look at the trajectory in how we are growing you will start to see not only are we getting better at our skills but our dreams are getting bigger.  We think that there is no any real limit on how much we can grow and there is no reason why we cannot aspire to have a Hollywood film or a documentary that will break through and have millions of people watching.  We want to create content that will touch people at their deepest levels and inspire them to action.”

 

jbprojectEddie was able to share with me golden nuggets of wisdom when asked what he would like JP’s audience to know.  I gleaned from his message that you cannot sacrifice the potential for a life filled with happiness for a comfortable compliance with the status quo and a world’s definition of success.

“It was only when we dropped everything and surrendered it all by coming out here and living on someone’s couch with no salary or health insurance despite thinking that it doesn’t feel secure that we have been the most happy.  I know it sounds cliché, but we found that when you are finally willing to surrender pride including your grasp on what the future holds and what people tell you need to have—success, reputation, money, stability, status, relationships and instead be secure with who you are— what God made you to be—there is nothing more satisfying than being in that place.  That is what we are striving to move towards.  Obviously no one is there, but the closer that we get to that point we are no longer enslaved and are free to be what we were meant to be.  We try to convey freedom in our stories.  Don’t feel like your life has to be dictated because if you do you are fooling yourself.  Freedom and joy can only be found in God alone.”

For more information on how to support and get connected with the Jubilee Project visit, subscribe and follow them on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and their blog.  Ordinary people can do extraordinary things where doing good is contagious.

Living the Life of a Circus Performer-Jon Weiss from Circus Vargas

“Magikaria, A Fantastical Magical Experience!” presented by Circus Vargas has the thrilling elements of mystery, magic, and music.  The show showcases top notch industry professionals with family focused familiarity of fun and personal connection under the big-top now at the Irvine Spectrum from May 30 – June 10, 2013.

clownsPrint_0569In a world where people can get lost in technology generated entertainment or eight hour jobs it is refreshing to have the senses be triggered into producing contagious laughter or eye popping astonishment as you spend time with the Circus Vargas family and your own.

The show includes flying trapeze artists, jugglers, dancers and acrobats that all move with a riveting vibrancy of motion locking audience gazes as they defy gravity and master tricks.  In addition, the show features a ringmaster with Broadway singing and clown antics that are never scary but endearingly comical.  Don’t miss the motorcycle globe daredevil family or the human rocket where a performer is fired “75 feet in less than 4 seconds.”  The elaborate illusions will awaken your imagination and leave you wanting more.  The performers come from all over the world to share well-honed performing and technical artistry, their life and their love with you.

I had the opportunity to chat with Jon Weiss, circus extraordinaire who shared with me some of his experience of living life in the unique context of the circus.  Jon’s superstar career of being shot out of cannons, balancing objects and clowning around is made richer because of the love he shares for his job, community and family.  His multitalented based career and life including an impressive finish on season four of “The Amazing Race” and numerous television appearances spanning decades has made history, but he never loses site of making memories with his family.  Along with his wife Laura, they serve as hosts for the pre-show and Jon demonstrates mind-boggling balance using his “iron chin.”  Below Jon shared with me highlights from his career and living life with Circus Vargas.

What is the pre-show?

Basically we are inviting you into our home.  The pre-show that I do starts 30 minutes before the show so kids get to come in the ring with their parents and we teach them how to do circus stuff and expose them to what it is like in the ring.  After you try some of the balancing and juggling you will see the professionals actually perform it in the show.  You get a different feel for what it is like to do what they do.  I think it is also good in regards to being able to try different things.  When performers perform they make things look easy because they are highly trained and they make it look effortless.  For the pre-show we also bring our kids out there to do magic and stuff, it’s cool.

How is the show made affordable for everyone?

Here at Circus Vargas everyone wears many different hats.  Like on Monday night when we tear down the big top we all do it.  We make going to see our show affordable and efficient by running our business efficiently.  You will see the girls in the box office are also the trapeze artists and dancers in the show.  Our juggler works at the concessions.  When you see us set it up we all look like a bunch of laborers setting up a construction site so you don’t know who is who.  The funny thing is that if you get to meet us on a set up or a tear down you will think that we look familiar-that might have been the juggler or the daredevil or the clown because we all do it.

Does Circus Vargas feature magic every year?

The magic is unique to our show this year.  Magikaria means that there is an air of magic inside the big top whether it is the magic of the circus itself, the illusions that we present, we just say there is an air of magic.

What makes performing for you in Circus Vargas special?

For me performing in Circus Vargas is very intimate.  It is about creating that experience or that memory.  When everything is said and done in our lives it is the experiences and memories that we keep with us.  I think that is extremely important and for me to know that when I perform and work that I will be a part of someone’s memory is incredible.  The first show is no different than the last show with high energy.  No matter if there are 100 people out there or 1,000 people out there it does not make a difference.  They all expect a great show!

How has the circus experience evolved over the years?

The experience is different now from when I was a kid.  When I was a kid and went to the circus with my family we sat in the nosebleeds that were very far away and saw little specks on the floor because we were in the big arena environment like Madison Square Garden.  Now, you get to meet and talk to performers, get pictures and autographs and that is an experience that goes a long way.  I never lose sight of that when I work or perform and I want to make the experience memorable and great for everyone.  I think that is what we do really well here at Circus Vargas.

Do you have a circus memory that you can share ?

Talking about Madison Square Garden, it was 1986 May 2nd prior to a circus performance with over 5,000 people in the audience that day and it was the day I got married to my wife.  I was in full clown makeup and my wife was a dancer at the time.  I arrived in a clown car, the ring bearer was a bear, the bridesmaids were elephants and we rode off on an elephant.  We renewed our vows two more times after that.  We have been together since 1980, met in high school then I ran away to the circus, went to clown college and then she joined the following year as a dancer.  We never thought that we would make a career or life out of it and here we are over thirty years now enjoying the lifestyle with our kids and other families.

Can you describe the circus lifestyle and family?

To us as circus performers we travel with our families and kids.  It is a lifestyle, we don’t even think twice of it—going out there shooting out of a cannon or balancing a heavy object on your chin—it’s just our job and what we do.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously—it’s very important.

JonBalancingLife goes by very fast so the important thing is that you are able to share these memories and do things with your family.  I have the utmost respect for the people that have been doing this for years or generations.  I am only the first generation and was a civilian for 18 years before I joined the circus.  My three kids are already the second generation.  I fell in love with the lifestyle and the people and I was meant to be a real circus performer.  Anybody can put a costume on or clown makeup on but what do you really bring to the table?  Are you here for the right reasons?  It is about being in the circus and giving 100% and being part of this community?  I think what Circus Vargas does very well is that it is getting the right people for the right job.  They may know 50% of the business but the other 50% is their people skills, their ability to communicate and work together.

What makes a good performer?

The thing about a real good performer is that certain things you can teach and certain things you can’t teach—you have to have it from within.  That is how I got involved with the circus because I naturally have the ability to balance things that was molded into being a circus performer.  A lot of the circus people do the same thing but it is how it is presented.  How can you present something where you bring the audience into your act, make eye contact or do something special?  A lot of people do the triple somersault on the trapeze but it is not presented how it is presented here.  As a performer you have to look at it as how can I do it better, more consistent and how can I bring the audience in to enjoy the experience?  That’s a lot of fun when you can do that.

Besides being home-schooled, do the circus kids get to learn circus skills?

One of the great things about the circus is that you have some of the best people here in the business such as Olympian athletes or people trained in dance and acrobatics.  We do have classes where the kids take strength and training, gymnastics, and dance after school in the big-top which is great where we don’t have to drive them anywhere.  This is our community.  As you can see we have it setup with a fence and our back lot.  The location changes but the way we live our life stays the same which is unique.  The kids know they can’t go outside the compound and we have a lot of pairs of eyes around here.  Everyone looks out for everyone.

Can you share a Circus Vargas tradition?

We have a block party every Saturday night.  Tonight after the last show we all convene here in the midway where we have a big party.  We barbecue, socialize and bring a dish.  The great thing is that we have people from all different countries and nationalities where everyone brings a different dish.  It is an international buffet, German, Bulgaria, Kenya, Peru and the Argentinians who own the show bring all the meat.  We want to keep these traditional things alive because the kids and adults look forward to it.

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Thank you to Nelson and Katya Quiroga-Tabares with Tabares Entertainment, Inc. who are the circus owners and impresarios that continue to bring a unique live show to a city near you.  I am humbled by the circus camaraderie and community that work together as a collaborative ensemble and family.

Bring your family and friends to be entertained by the Circus Vargas family at “Magikaria, A Fantastical Magical Experience!”  Don’t miss sharing memories that will last a life time.  The show will run from May 30 – June 10 at the Irvine Spectrum (115 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618) and will travel to Woodland Hills and Santa Barbara.  Please check-out show times and purchase tickets by clicking here or in person at the box office.  Look for the blue and yellow big-top!

The show is two hours with a 15 minute intermission allowing time to buy and enjoy tasty concessions including popcorn, cotton candy and cool drinks to take in with you.  Don’t forget to buy a program where the performers will sign it after the show and take pictures with you.