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  • 20180405 Livingcircle Zirkus33

    The greatest show on earth

    Piccolo Circo at the Castello del Sole

  • 20180405 Livingcircle Zirkus36

    The greatest show on earth

    Piccolo Circo at the Castello del Sole

  • 20180405 Livingcircle Zirkus38

    The greatest show on earth

    Piccolo Circo at the Castello del Sole

  • 20180405 Livingcircle Zirkus40

    The greatest show on earth

    Piccolo Circo at the Castello del Sole

At Piccolo Circo, dreams can come true. A world where children become courageous lions and tigers, learn clowning and perform acrobatics. Expert help is on hand for the little ones from Sarah Lerch, Master in Physical Theatre at the Accademia Teatro Dimitri.

It started so well. The circus director? A consummate professional. The artists? World class! The dress rehearsal? Seamless. And then, at the last moment, everything threatens to go wrong. Because of the buttons. Because without buttons they can’t do anything, without buttons Mia and Anna Stella can’t issue any entry tickets. The two girls are artists and cashiers at once. 

The first calls from the queue in front of the tent are already audible, the circus fans are growing impatient. At last the darned buttons turn up. Circus stars Mia, Carlotta, Tea, Ella, Matilda and Anna Stella — all between three and seven years old — break into smiles again. Director Sarah Lerch strikes a pose and cries to the crowd “Roll up, ladies and gentlemen, roll up!”

It would have been a real shame if the performance of the Piccolo Circo, the best circus from Ascona to America, had fallen through. The audience would have missed a sensational performance and all the hard work would have been for nothing. “For three days we worked hard, learning acrobatics numbers, practicing juggling and clowning”, says the circus director. Sarah Lerch, a natural with her young performers, has what it takes to be a great circus director. She studied at the Accademia Teatro Dimitri in Verscio, near Ascona, founded many years ago and managed for a long time by one of the greatest Swiss clowns, Dimitri (1935 – 2016). Afterwards she put on many of her own theatre and dance productions, performed across Europe with the Company Continuo Theater. In 2014, she completed her Masters in Physical Theatre at the Accademia Teatro Dimitri and regularly teaches children acrobatics, dance and movement theatre. And when one of the little artists needs some extra help ... Sarah knows exactly what to do: She is a mother herself and thinks children are “the absolute best”.

The affection is obviously mutual; the children are devoted to her. The world could end outside the circus tent and Ella, Matilda and the others wouldn’t notice. Nothing can disturb them when they are clowning about, they are completely in the moment. When they laugh it comes straight from their hearts. At this moment, happiness has a name: Circus. As an adult, you stand by and find yourself asking: where, when, and why did I lose that feeling of complete joy?

The big moment inches closer and closer. Matilda chases away a couple of boys who are peering through a gap in the tent: don’t bother us now! Because the performance is about to start. Sarah and her troop do a few warm-up exercises, clasp each other by the shoulders, are silent for a minute and then let out a kind of primal scream to release their tension and stage fright. The main show can begin. The girls are now acrobats, clowns who make the audience scream with laughter, or tigresses jumping through burning tires. Well, the burning is not real, the Piccolo Circo is also fantasy. However, what the children are doing is not child’s play. If you don’t believe it, stand on one foot and try juggling a ball with the other!

For the grand finale, the children form human pyramids. While the girls struggle with balance and gravity, a father with the beginnings of a paunch whispers: “I hope my daughter never demands that of me — I couldn’t do that anymore!” The final applause in the garden of the Castello del Sole is never-ending. Again and again, the artists have to return to bow. Finally the performance is over. But soon the director will be practicing again with more children, and soon it will be time to say once more “Roll up! Roll up!”

Text: Franz Bamert
Photos: Claudio Bader

The Living Circle

The Living Circle – is a hand-picked collection of first-class hotels and restaurants in incomparably beautiful locations, run by dedicated hosts. Rice, vegetables, fruit and a whole array of exquisite products – including wine, of course – is whisked fresh from our own farms directly to your table. That is how we define luxury. That is The Living Circle – luxury hotels fed by nature.