Our Team

Our Team2020-09-17T22:04:24-07:00

 Our Team

The CircusWest team is a tight-knit community of artists, administrative staff, coaches, and more. Find out more about the people who run our Big Top.
ALICE BONACINA
ALICE BONACINACoach
Alice joined Circus West’s team in 2018. She coaches the Primary program, pre-Performance programs and aerial arts sessionals. She has a background in dance and visual arts, and she is passionate about aerial dance and teaching.
She can eat an impressive amount of food for her size.
SAGE CARLSON
SAGE CARLSONCoach
Sage has been coaching circus for all ages and skill levels since 2016, specializing in trampoline. After over a decade of circus training, Sage is also proficient in aerial silks, hoop, and trapeze, as well as prop manipulation.
FRASER COPLAND
FRASER COPLANDCoach
Fraser is a new coach at CircusWest. He has trained as a CirKid since 2005 and is now training with the Performance Troupe. He started with coaching camps, and is now coaching unicycling to Ringmasters during the year as a junior coach. He enjoys challenging himself because the reward of overcoming obstacles is exhilarating.
JULIA DOUGHERTY
JULIA DOUGHERTYCoach
Julia coaches ariels, handstands and pyramids at CircusWest. She has been training at CircusWest since 2014 and joined the coaching team in 2017. She also instructs children’s and adult yoga classes. Julia spends a lot of time climbing trees as well, as she is an arborist here in Vancouver.
SYLVAIN DROLET
SYLVAIN DROLETRigging & Tools Coordinator
Sylvain specializes in coaching handstands, main a main, and act development. A graduate of the National Circus School, Sylvain has toured internationally and continues to perform all over BC as a member of CircusWest’s professional troupe, Avatar Circus Project.
JONEL EARL
JONEL EARLPerformance Program Coordinator
Jonel grew up with horses and later found a natural fit with the equine-based circus Voltige, which ultimately became Cavalia. During her time on the project, Jonel built a proficiency with whips that ultimately led to 7 years as a featured performer in the Las Vegas show Zumanity, by Cirque du Soleil.
CAMERON FRASER
CAMERON FRASERProduction Manager
Our production manager, Cameron also focuses on acrobatics instruction, stage design, and acrobatic choreography. A CirKid from 1992 to 2006, Cameron runs his own circus company (Break|Contemporary Circus), as well as a design/digital media company and two clothing lines.​​
SARAH HIGGINS
SARAH HIGGINSProgram Assistant
Sarah is CircusWest’s program assistant (circa 2016). She handles registrations and payments, liaises with the public, writes the newsletter and gets to decorate the entrance space. A theatre artist and writer with an MFA in Creative Writing, Sarah’s previous admin experience is in the non-profit realm.
AMÉLIE HORNBURG
AMÉLIE HORNBURGCoach
Amélie joined circus in 2014, and recently joined the CircusWest team as a coach. She is currently in the Apprentice program. Outside of CircusWest she is part of her school’s jazz band.
KATLAN IRVINE
KATLAN IRVINECoach
Kat specializes in juggling and prop manipulation. He began juggling when he was 14 after his father promised him $100 to learn the skill. Kat currently works with several performance companies in Vancouver and is earning a degree in mechanical engineering.
VIRPI KANGAS
VIRPI KANGASManaging Director, Programs & Operations
Virpi manages the operations and programs of the CircusWest school. She’s been a member of the CircusWest team since 2009. Outside CircusWest, she does handicrafts and enjoys scuba diving.
DEBORA LEITE DE OLIVEIRA
DEBORA LEITE DE OLIVEIRACoach
MICHAEL LOCKE
MICHAEL LOCKECoach
As a CircusWest coach, Michael specializes in swing trapeze, double trapeze, and partner acro. Michael has several years’ experience performing partner acro.
EMILY MATCHETTE
EMILY MATCHETTECoach
KAIA NIELSEN-ROINE
KAIA NIELSEN-ROINECoach
Kaia’s been a coach at CircusWest since 2015, specializing in general aerials with the younger programs. A CirKid since 2006, Kaia is a member of the CirKids Performance group, concentrating on aerial silks. Her circus performances include the May Show with CircusWest and other events.
ALICIA NIEMANN
ALICIA NIEMANNCoach
JAY NUNNS
JAY NUNNSArtistic & Community Development Director
Jay was one of the original CirKids in 1985, and he’s been the artistic director since 1996. Jay has written, directed, and produced most of CircusWest’s productions. Jay also spearheaded the development of the professional troupe in 2007.
LIA PAQUIN
LIA PAQUINCoach
ANNABEL RAWSON
ANNABEL RAWSONPrimary Program Coordinator
IIONA RAWSON
IIONA RAWSONCoach
BRIAN ROBERTSON
BRIAN ROBERTSONSafety & Facility Coordinator, School Groups & Camps Coordinator
Brian coaches unicycle and trampoline, purchases equipment, and addresses any building concerns. He also coordinates School groups and Camps. In 1985 Brian was a founding member of Cirkids. In his early 20s he taught in America with Circus of the Kids a traveling circus school. He then came back as a coach to Cirkids in 1993 and the rest is history.
MICHELE ROGER
MICHELE ROGERProduction Coordinator
Michele is responsible for marketing, promoting, and coordinating our community events, corporate gigs, and theatrical circus productions. Her passion in dance, gymnastics and health and human performance in her formative years, makes her a perfect fit for the circus world. Michele is also an accomplished seamstress and you can often find her in the sewing room designing and constructing circus costumes.
LARISSA SCHMIDT
LARISSA SCHMIDTCoach
MARK SCHUETTChief Executive Officer
LEYNA SHNIER
LEYNA SHNIERCoach
Leyna’s been coaching aerials to Ringmasters, Ensemble, Centre Stage, and Performance groups at CircusWest since 2016. Trained at Monica’s Danz Gym in aerials for 10 years, and contortion and hand balance, Leyna now trains and perform with The Underground Circus.
YUKI UEDA
YUKI UEDACoach
Yuki teaches juggling, which he stared learning in 2006. He’s juggled on streets and in festivals around the world, taught workshops internationally and is a member of Cause & Effect Circus in Vancouver. He’s been at CircusWest since 2011.
ALISON WU
ALISON WUCoach
Alison joined the CircusWest team in 2016. She coaches tumbling, and does some performing with CircusWest’s Verve performance troupe. When not at circus, she has a great time playing with her dog.