Circus Bella debuts in Snowmass |

Circus Bella debuts in Snowmass

A performer entertains the crowd during Circus Bella on Friday in Snowmass Base Village.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Hula-hoop twirling. Tightrope walking. Juggling balls and tables and even people.

These were just a few of the skills dozens of ticket-holders saw over the weekend at the Circus Bella company’s “Kaleidoscope” performances in Snowmass.

Although Snowmass has hosted circuses before, this was the first time the giant Circus Bella red-and-white striped tent stood in the Base Village, and the first time the circus had ever been on tour outside of California.

“We at Circus Bella believe circus belongs to the people,” Abigail Munn, founder of Circus Bella, said to the crowd gathered Sunday for the company’s last performance. Munn asked everyone to say hello to the people around them.

“I want you to laugh, to clap and to have a great time!” Munn said.

And with that, the two-hour series of unique tricks and skills displayed by a variety of performers, including Munn, kicked off.

Since she was 9 years old, Munn has been a circus performer, specializing in trapeze artistry. She started traveling with other circuses, but decided to start her own company over 11 years ago.

“I felt the need to reinvent and rethink the one-ring circus,” Munn said, looking back on what led her to start Circus Bella.

This reinvention started as free shows in parks and open spaces around the San Francisco Bay area, and then evolved into tent performances, which Munn and her company started last year.

There are no animals at the Circus Bella shows and no pre-recorded music — just people performing everything live and in the round.

“I love that the circus is a moment for everyone to sit down and experience something as a community,” Munn said. “To me, circus has a place for everyone and celebrates everyone’s unique gifts.”

As Munn and the other 24 performers put on their individual and group acts Sunday, the audience watched intently, including each member of the five-piece Circus Bella All-Star Band.

When the performers accomplished an amazing feat or did something goofy, the live jazz-like pep band aimed to match its melodies to the mood of the moment.

Jonathan Seiberlich, the tuba player for Circus Bella, said being a part of the band is unlike any other musical performance experience he’s ever had before.

“It’s really scary sometimes. You can’t watch too much or else you’ll lose your place in the music and get distracted,” Seiberlich said. “No other band is required to have this much spatial awareness.”

Seiberlich explained that there are a lot of subtleties to playing during each Circus Bella performance, including improvising during each act and feeding off the people inside and outside of the ring.

He said these subtleties are part of what make each Circus Bella performance unique and engaging, and why Seiberlich plans to stick with the band as long as he can.

“Through our music we are able to create beautiful moments that would never happen if someone just pushed play,” Seiberlich said of the live Circus Bella band. “It’s amazing and we are so lucky to have someone like Abigail leading (the circus). I feel very fortunate to be here.”