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Interview with circus performer Alain Carabinier

4 July 2013 | Charlie Kenber

Ahead of Timber! at the Southbank Centre we caught up with circus performer – and grandfather – Alain Carabinier…

This month Cirque Alfonse are performing their show Timber! at the Southbank Centre – their UK debut. There is nothing normal about this circus troupe though – the company contains three generations of the family, down from 66-year old Alain to his 2-year old grandson Arthur. Alain’s children, experienced with such companies as Les 7 doigts de la main and Cirque du Soleil created a circus show for him to be in for his 60th birthday, and so he finally got to run away with the circus, as he’d always wanted to. We caught up with Alain ahead of the opening.

London Calling: What is it about the circus that you love so much?

Alain Carabinier: The most special thing for me is to be performing alongside my children and grandchild, and to be able to travel the world with them and experience my little grandson Arthur, who is two, growing up. Also what I love about circus is that audiences can be moved and transported through the performance with little, or no, words or text. It’s really a universal language, it’s magical.

LC: How is it to perform – and indeed to tour – with your family?

AC: When I was young and growing up in Geneva, I loved going to watch Circus Knie (a big traditional circus in Switzerland) and I always wanted to be part of a show like theirs with my family. I watched my children grow up, putting on little shows and then I drove them to all their circus classes and training in Montreal. I was so proud when they toured with big companies like Cirque Eloize and Les 7 doigts de la main, so it’s a wonderful feeling to tour with them now, and actually be in a show with them. It’s been a dream since I was a child to perform one day with my own children and now it is a reality, so it is very special.

LC: Are you looking forward to performing in London?

AC: When I was younger I travelled around the world for 12 years – I even met my wife when I was horse-riding in Ecuador! but I never stayed long enough in London to properly discover the city, so it’s a really great opportunity for me to be here finally. London is one of the biggest "show-cities" in the world, with so many amazing companies from across the world congregating here, so it’s an honour to be able to perform here. Also I’m especially looking forward to the opportunity to improve my English!!!!!!

LC: What do you think people take away from your show?

AC: It’s a real show with no fireworks and no special effects, but with a true feeling of family, friendship, hard work and fun. I hope people will enjoy this authenticity and take away with them the true spirit of our wild Quebec.

LC: What can we look forward to next from Cirque Alfonse?

AC: There is still plenty of Quebecois culture and heritage for Cirque Alfonse to discover, which will inspire our next shows. Circus is a great way to explore history and tradition, so watch this space!

Timber! runs from 10th-31st July, with tickets from £15, available here.

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