Circus performers come to Keystone for Wine in the Pines |

Circus performers come to Keystone for Wine in the Pines

Krista Driscoll
The annual Wine in the Pines fundraiser for Ability Connection Colorado this year will include entertainment from Imagination Circus Arts, a circus skills school on the Front Range north of Denver.
Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: Wine in the Pines

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18

Where: Keystone Conference Center, 0633 Tennis Club Road, Dillon

Cost: $125 in advance or $150 at the door

More information: Dress is black tie or cocktail attire. For more information on Wine in the Pines or to purchase tickets, visit Tickets are also available at Dillon Ridge Liquors. To learn more about Ability Connection Colorado, visit

The annual Wine in the Pines fundraiser, which this year benefits Ability Connection Colorado, will include entertainment from Imagination Circus Arts, a circus skills school on the Front Range north of Denver.

“We heard through one of our clients about them and how awesome this particular group was and that they had done a performance for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, so we decided to try them and they were so generous to help us,” said Terri Armstrong, special events director for Ability Connection Colorado.


Imagination Circus Arts is the culmination of 19 years of experience of Marcy Gallardo, owner and founder, and the aerial arts curriculum trains students for ensemble performances with the school’s Circus Factory at corporate events and fundraisers like Wine in the Pines. Most of the performers who will be coming to the Keystone Conference Center on Saturday, Oct. 18, are adults, but a few younger students will also be participating.

“They’re training to be part of the events we do and learn how to become professional performers,” Gallardo said. “They intern real-time into actual performances, so when the professional Circus Factory is doing an event, they will have two to however many feature acts. In between those acts, there will be stuff called atmosphere, moving art. That’s what the training program does: get experience in front of a crowd in lights with costumes and without mats and learn how to really perform.”

In addition to the students providing atmosphere for the event, eight Circus Factory company members will perform 10 feature acts, two during the cocktail hour from 6 to 9 p.m. and eight more, one after another, following the live auction at 10 p.m. Gallardo said that rather than cirque performances, which typically have a loose storyline that runs through the acts with an odd and ambiguous focal character, the Wine in the Pines show will be “just circus.”

The three ground acts will include fire, a hula-hoop performer with hoops all over his body and a balancing equilibrium act where performers will stack things in impossible-looking configurations. The remaining five aerial acts will all be upbeat, she said.

“We’ve created acts on a contraption, a weird trapeze that’s all connected together, and a triangle similar to a trapeze,” Gallardo said, adding that the other aerial acts incorporate a triple trapeze, hanging tissues, an aerial cube and aerial spans. “We took the thing that you hang apparatus from in the ceiling — it’s a piece of cable with a casing on it — and we’re performing on those.”


By day, Gabriella Mayne, of Boulder, is a paralegal, but she’s also the longest-running member of the Circus Factory, Gallardo said. Mayne got into the circus arts when she was 19 and a camp counselor in Pennsylvania.

“I had done dance and gymnastics, so they hired me for the circus department,” she said, adding that Gallardo had also been a counselor at the same camp. “She had worked there for about 12 years and had run the circus stuff. When I came back (to Colorado) at about 20 years old, I got in touch with Marcy and started training with her and performing and haven’t left since.”

Mayne said circus performing, though not run-of-the-mill, is something that just kind of hooks you — possibly due to the inverted nature of the acts.

“I always loved movement and I liked dance, but something about it all combined into an apparatus that’s up in the air and it’s kind of scary but it’s also every piece of your body,” she said. “It’s mental, it’s physical and it’s really cool when it all comes together.”

Mayne said one of the highlights of the show would probably be the contraption act, which is presented on an invention of Gallardo’s that resembles a tic-tac-toe board. The contraption is approximately 10 feet long, with four corners of welded steel and pegs and ropes extending from each corner.

“There’s four women that perform on it; it’s a super fast routine,” Mayne said. “The equipment moves and the weight and the counterbalance in keeping it even — most people won’t notice, although intuitively they get that. Our movement in unison is key; otherwise it becomes somewhat unstable and dangerous.”

Movements on the contraption involve two partners sitting with two hanging below supporting one another by their legs.

“That’s it. There’s no nets, just us squeezing like hell and trusting their lives when they are thrown,” Mayne said. “It takes a lot of coordination and trust in your teammates because you’re moving and trusting your teammates and bodies and coordination 100 percent.”


Gallardo said each performance is mapped out to fit whatever style of gala Imagination Circus Arts attends, and the Circus Factory really enjoys working at fundraisers because the group likes doing things that are meaningful. She said the company would help inject some energy into Wine in the Pines.

“Our patterning is really free-flow, so it works really, really well where people want to mingle,” she said. “They don’t have to sit in a specific spot facing a stage. It infuses a neat energy because you don’t know where the next one is going to be and you are literally so close to what’s going on that, as an audience member, it’s really exciting.”

Aside from having a good time and supporting a good cause, Mayne said the Circus Factory is meant to be entertaining and she hopes that people enjoy watching the performances and all of the hard work that goes into them. The show is engaging for a number of reasons, she said.

“I think just the raw strength of seeing people climbing, body movements that everybody can identify that takes some strength,” Mayne said. “The coordination and choreography — it’s not just Barnum & Bailey; there’s artistic coordination that goes into it so you’re seeing a whole presentation. You’re kind of swept into it, at least that’s our intention.”

Gallardo said the entertainment value of the performance is just as important as the novelty of people swinging in the air, and the company members take pride in the athletic feats they accomplish through their many acts.

“There’s a lot of excitement, people are really wondering what they are going to be doing,” Armstrong said.

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