Street performer Paz, from the Major League Circus show, along with his son Nicholas Danchenko (known in entertainment circles as Nik the Violin Kid) are among several artists taking part in the Sault’s inaugural Fringe North International Theatre Festival, being held from Aug. 10 to 20.
The two are based in Toronto, with Paz originally from Los Angeles, Nik originally from Maryland.
“I perform the only baseball tribute show in the world,” Paz told SooToday Tuesday.
“The whole show is a baseball theme and it gets people involved with some of the great traditions and fun things of the game and I end by juggling flaming baseball bats.”
Paz said he’s had a few close calls with those flaming baseball bats, and had his left hand bandaged Tuesday after spraining his thumb.
“They’re monsters when you catch them wrong,” he said with a good-natured smile.
“I play classical and popular music, including Antonio Vivaldi pieces. It’s family friendly,” said Nik, 11, who is playing his second festival.
It’s the first time in the Sault for both performers.
“It’s been fantastic. I can’t say enough amazing things about the organizers of this festival. It’s the first year, and I really think in the next five years this is going to be an amazing festival and a destination where a lot of artists are going to want to come,” Paz said.
“We heard there was a Fringe festival starting up here. Canada has such a rich Fringe culture, we just thought we’d be a part of it,” said Paz, who also does a hockey-themed show.
Street performing is Paz’s full-time job, working and travelling 42 weeks out of every year.
“It’s great when Nicholas can come with me and we get to share in the adventure (when not attending school in Toronto).”
Nicholas’ mother is also a performer, while his grandfather, Victor Danchenko, is a well-known professional solo violinist who teaches at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.
“As an entertainer, I’m there for people. If I can just take someone out of their troubles, whether it be a family member with cancer or a divorce or whatever, if I can make them forget about their troubles for half an hour, then I feel I’ve done my job,” Paz said.
“I enjoy it, I love music a lot. I’m there for the people as well. I just want to bring joy to everyone, I just want to make people happy. That’s why I do what I do,” Nicholas said.
Sydney MacDonald and Kyle Hicks, also both from Toronto, known professionally as Karl and the Prodigy, are two other artists in the festival.
The pair juggle a variety of sharp and dangerous objects, such as flaming torches, knives and chainsaws, with Hicks on a unicycle exchanging objects and banter with MacDonald as they perform.
MacDonald, who teaches music and juggling, is taking a year off from his postsecondary studies in chemistry at the University of Waterloo.
Hicks will be attending Sault College’s aviation program in the fall.
Efforts to start up a Fringe festival in the Sault date back to 2010, but now that dream has become a reality.
“Fringe festivals are 70 years old, they started in Edinburgh. The principles of Fringes are that 100 per cent of the box office proceeds goes to the artists. There’s a lot of artistic freedom, there’s no jury deciding who’s good and who isn’t it,” said Peter Rowe, Fringe North International Theatre Festival general manager.
The festival, which includes buskers, musicians, theatre productions and art displays, takes place at several venues in the Sault, including Roberta Bondar Park and Pavilion (where there are refreshments provided by various local vendors), Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site and Holiday Inn Express at 320 Bay Street.
Complete information on the festival can be found on Fringe North’s website