VestaFire fundraising for SPARK at Victoria International Busking Festival 2013


VF_promo_20130127_114_printpicture: VestaFire is raising money for Burmese Refugees at Victoria Busking Festival

Nanaimo’s contemporary circus and fire performance troupe VestaFire is performing at the Victoria International Buskers Festival, July 19-29th.  As the festival’s featured fire troupe, VestaFire offers a spectacular evening fire show to dazzle audiences, with breathtaking choreography and elaborate costumes designed by local artisans. During the day, VestaFire will be performing a more traditional comedic circus show, complete with machete-juggling, a strait-jacket escape and death-defying acrobatics. This family troupe will be performing three times every day, so be sure to keep an eye out for them on the program.

VestaFire will be using this festival to fund raise for another trip to the Burmese Refugee camps. Performer Katlan Irvine is travelling to Thailand with SPARK! Circus ( in January 2014, where he will be teaching circus arts and performing fire shows in Burmese refugee camps, orphanages and hospitals. Troupe co-ordinator Karina Strong, her 9-year-old daughter Jenna Strong, and performer Quinn Beasley have all done tours with SPARK! and now they are helping Irvine raise the money needed to attend and bring joy and play to the children of these camps.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing a culture that is entirely different from my own,” says Irvine, “Play is an essential part of a child’s life and development, and something that can be heavily neglected in a refugee camp. I hope to bring joy and wonder to these war ravaged children.”

SPARK! reaches over 4,000 children each year with circus-style fire shows, playshops and donations of toys, art supplies, and creative tools.  Their goal is to lighten the children’s days with magic, wonder, laughter and smiles.  SPARK! is completely volunteer based through Performers Without Borders, so make sure to throw a couple extra dollars in Vesta Entertainment’s hat so that they can bring a smile to disadvantaged children.
More information can be found on their website

VestaFire presentation on 2012SparkCircus Tour!

Circus entertainers brighten lives of refugee children


VestaFire Entertainment has been delighting Vancouver Island audiences with striking circus performances since the group formed two years ago.

Brilliant fire displays, beautiful costumes, stilt-walking dancers and feats of juggling with multi-coloured hoops have attracted rave reviews.

But there’s more to VestaFire than just entertainment, as founder Karina Strong showed last year when she spent two months in Thailand as part of Spark Circus.

This international group of circus performers comes together to bring joy to disadvantaged children in refugee camps, migrant schools, hospitals and orphanages along the Burmese border.

What made the trip even more special was that Strong was joined by her husband Kevin, and children Jenna, eight, who also performed, and Caden, three.

On Jan. 13, the Strongs will share their stories of this mission and the impact it had on their family in a multi-media presentation at the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo.

The presentation is part of the regular Sunday service beginning at 11 a.m. in the Unitarian Hall, 595 Townsite Rd. All are welcome.

“It was an amazing trip, full of challenges, but also so incredible, with so many memories,” said Karina. “We had so many touching exchanges with children. Our being there let them know they have worth, and that their happiness is important.”

Home Again!

We are back from our 2 month trip to Thailand with , teaching circus and performing in the Burmese Refugee Camps, orphanages, hospitals, and schools! It was an amazing trip, full of challenges, but also so incredible!  Our kids (3 and 8) took everything in stride, and Jenna was one of our Star Performers! We were not able to post as frequently as we would have liked, as we were so busy!

So many incredible memories:

– Performing our spectacular fire show at the Temple Opening Ceremony, in front of a sea of monks and the entire village!

– the chaos of running circus workshops for 500 children!

– the amazing SPARKCircus team- every one of them!

– our beautiful group acts, and my duet with Garret Flowers!

– Performing on centre field of the football stadium for the city of Mae Sot!

– 2 days at Nu Po Refugee camp- the amazing children and people, and performing on the 50 ft  stage for 3-4 thousand people!

– Being part of the small team that went to the Special Needs school and played and performed for 12 wonderful, loving children.

– Mae Tao Clinic- bringing joy to the maternity, childrens’, amputee, and HIV buildings.

– Agape Orphanage for HIV children-being sung to by the whole school- singing and dancing to the Burmese Hokey Pokey

– Visiting the Migrant School (past the cow farm!) and seeing their incredible bamboo dance

– pulling in after a long 2 hour drive over a long, windy, dark road, to find over 1000 people waiting for us to perform- apparently nobody had performed there for the past two years, and our willingness to do so was cause of an entire community festival!

– so many touching one on one exchanges with children, and knowing that our being there let them know that they have worth, and that their happiness is important!

We are all still reeling from our experiences, and are finding reverse culture shock to be almost as challenging! We all have so MUCH here.. We are settling back into some of our routines, and Jenna is happy to get back to school again. Integrating our experience and making meaning of all that we have seen is going to take some time. We have over 1000 pictures and video that we will be using to create a presentation on our trip. Stay tuned to find out when and where!

Thank you to all who have been following our journey!

Karina, Kevin, Caden and Jenna



Jenna’s Blog #5

The next school
Today I performed at another school. I had a lot of fun! The kids there are very kind. There are about 100 to 200 kids there. When we were leaving the kids went outside the school and sang “a ram sam sam” to us. That was my favourite part I think. My bubbles spilled all over me and I did not perform for the second show.

My Day Off
Today I had a day off! I went to a swimming pool with my dad and Keith and Alita and Jerina and Petra and Lukas. The big pool was 3 meters! It started out as 1 meter then it got deeper. I tried to touch the bottom but I only went half of the way. Lukas picked me up upside down in the water and I started to scream! I was a really fun day today. There was a baby pool there and it was warmer than the big pool. Bye Bye!

The Mae Tow Clinic
Today I went to a hospital. I saw some new born babies! They were so very cute! Jo said she saw a girl who could almost not breathe so Jo tied a friendship bracelet on her. One baby that I saw had trouble breathing and when he took a breath it sounded really bad, I tied on friendship bracelets for all the babies I saw. I put stickers on the grownups at the clinic. They all loved our show. Bye Bye!

My School work in Thailand
My dad is teaching me how to do fractions, learn about plants, the community and role models.Right now lets talk about fractions! I learned how to do fractions on the Ipad! Like, 1/1 makes one! The denominator is the bottom number of the fraction, the numerator is the top number of the fraction. The bottom number means how many pieces make up a whole, and the top number is how many you’ve colored.

The Plants (my school work in Thailand)
Today we talked about plants. I looked outside and I saw a big difference. The bushes are way different, and the trees, even the grass. In Thailand the plants grow in winter because it rains too much in the summer, but at home in Canada they grow in the spring and summer because it is too cold in the winter because it snows and mostly rains.

Jenna’s blog #4

The Shelter/Orphanage Future Light Friday Feb 3 2012
Today I went to an orphanage. There were 37 kids there. I performed my “Raise Your Glass” routine. My mom was sick for the show but it still worked well. I did not do my “Honey Bee” dance. The children’s home used to be made out of bamboo sticks and the roof out of leaves. But now it is made out of pavement for the walls and metal for the roof. The people from Help Without Frontiers helped them get a better building. When we were about to leave the kids put on a show for US! They sang wonderful songs for us and when we left I almost cried because I was sad to leave all the kids. 😦

The Days that I eat Thai Food. Sunday Feb 5 2012
Today my Dad told me that on the days that start with the days S and T I have to eat Thai food. All the other days I can eat regular food. Today it is Sunday so for dinner I have to eat Thai food. When I first tried Thai food I did not like it, but now I love it! Yesterday I ate a big platter of Thai food and it was very good. My favorite thing to eat here is pineapple Fried Rice. It sometimes comes in a half of a pineapple! We scoop out the insides and it’s REALLY good. We brought home some food but by accident I tripped over it and it spilled all over the floor of our guesthouse. I cleaned it all up. The end.

The Waterfall Feb 6 2012
Today we did not have to work so the whole troupe went to a big waterfall. It was VERY pretty- it was very cool because I climbed all the way to the top of the waterfall. I also took some underwater videos with my camera. I saw some fish in the shallow water. They were mostly brown but some of them were yellow. I stood under one of the little waterfalls and I got very wet. Thomas and Keith and Jessie Q helped me climbed the waterfall. Those people are my firends from spark. My brother and I did Acro Yoga. AcroYoga is yoga that you do cool moves on top of people. There was this one move called the Bird where I lifted Caden up on my feet and he pretended to fly. Ariel (one of my friends from spark) she pretended to fly me! It was awesome! Bye Bye.

The School One Dream One World Feb 7 2012
I went to a school today with the troupe. The kids at the school were street kids, and street kids are kids that live on the streets. Some kids slept under bridges, some in alleyways and more. The schools name is “one dream one world” and there are 100 kids there. My favourite moment was when one kid hugged me goodbye about 16 times. I almost cried. It felt like I hugged about 100 kids goodbye!

Jenna’s Blog #3

My Acts:
I have two acts that I perform. My day show act is called Honey Bee and my friend Jewelz helps me with it. We dance around and are dressed like cute bees. My friend Missy showed me the honey bee dance from back home. The kids here really like it.
My other act is my hoop act “raise your glass”. I have been getting better at hooping and have learned some new tricks.
I also can do the group act Americano if we are not using fire- the troupe uses palm candles and you light palmcandles on fire. I do not like using fire unless it’s on a hoop. I don’t do my hoop act on fire though because I can’t do my tricks with fire.
My LED act went really well because I did everything right. I did not mess up. I did a new trick in my act, I call it the hoop can can. It is when you put your leg up when you are doing around the world.

Jenna’s posts #2

The Jumping Squirrel
Sat Jan 14
Today I met a nice jumping squirrel. It was so cute! It was really furry too, it was a small as my hand. I got to hold it and he liked me. His claws were sharp and he had little stripes on his tail. His head was furry too and he almost crawled up my sleeve!

The Cute Puppy and Koh Samui Dogs
Sunday Jan 15
In my hotel there was a cute little puppy. He was only one week old, and he was black. I got to feed him because his mom got killed by a car. The puppy’s name was Mummy and he could barely walk. There are many stray dogs on Koh Samui, and even if they have owners they are still very skinny and don’t have collars. They run around in the roads and often get hit by cars. We saw a couple that were limping from injuries.

The Bungalows
Monday Jan 16
Today my family and I stayed in a bungalow. A bungalow is a type of old hotel in thailand. We changed bungalows the next day and now we’re in a better one. Our old bungalow had holes in the roof, holes in the bathroom, and holes in the floor. One time when I opened the bathroom door , a huge cockroach jumped out and it was really big! But then it flew out the front door. It was very scary. Our new bungalow is much better. Our bungalow is close to the ocean. There are lots of waves in the ocean. Our troupe leader Andrea lives in the bungalow beside us.

First Workshops and Kids’ show!

My first workshop day went really well. I taught some kids how to hoop, and it was very fun. I taught at a school. The school had all sorts of buildings but they were all classrooms. The kids at the workshops were very kind. We also did a kids show at the school. I did my Honey Bee act for it. My mom was sick for the day so she did not come with us, but my dad came so it still worked.

LED and Fire Shows

Sometimes we do fire shows and sometimes we do LED. I perform my number with LED all the time. If it is an LED show I am mostly first. In the fire shows I’m usually second as we do a group number with fire first. I don’t do the group numbers unless we are using LED. It is called “Americano” and we are all on stage at once.

Fire and LED, Oh My!

We arrived at Bangara resort to perform for the evening, and I was impressed- I think we all were! this is a 5000 bht a night resort- very posh and beautiful. We set up in our beautiful green room and then saw our performance space- right on the beach, on beautiful soft but packed white sand beach. We had planned for fire and were all decked out in our classy black n reds. However as we were preparing the ocean breeze started picking up, and Jo decided that it was too windy for fire. No problem, we were also prepared to do our spectacular LED show. Quick costume change into our whites and we were ready to perform. It was a bit of a challenge for all of us to perform in the wind, and as well on the steep slope of the beach, but we pressed on and put on a really great show for the hotel guests. I’m so proud of the whole troupe- each act is amazing and we have worked so hard on creating the opening and finale group numbers. Co-ordinating 15-20 performers on stage at once is no mean feat- props to Jo, Andrea, and Ariel for choreographing the group numbers!
The next evening we went to the partner resort, and it was even nicer! We were all fed an amazing buffet and then performed roving entertainment for the function’s guests in our whites. This was a special fundraiser evening for spark, with a silent auction, fire show, and dignitaries. The ‘who’s who’ of Samui ex-pats it seemed, with lots of children present, which was fabulous. The troupe interacted and schmoozed for about an hour, and then changed back to blacks to perform our fire show. Once again, the Sparkles shined! Our fire show lasted about an hour and each act was spectacular. The stage was beautiful soft grass, with the audience seated around the outside in a half circle. This allowed for some great audience connection- my favorite moment of the evening was during my staff performance: I was able to meet the gaze of an audience member, and hold it, until he smiled. It was one of ‘those moments’ that creates the performer’s rush- moments like that are why I keep taking the stage. It’s an amazing feeling to connect with the audience and share the magic and joy! 🙂
Both shows raised about 100000 baht for spark- an incredible amount that will purchase a huge amount of supplies for the kids!!
Next, the hustle and bustle of Bangkok!

Jenna’s Blog #1

Jenna’s Blogs:
Friday Jan 13, 2012
The Elephants!
Today my family and I rode Elephants! It was very very very fun! My elephant’s name was Jumbo. I saw a baby elephant named Popeye. He was SO cute! I got to sit on him. When I rode Jumbo, it was very bumpy. I sat on Jumbo’s head and I drove him. Popeye played with the toroflux and he thought that it was food. Now THAT’S funny! Jumbo was very very very hairy. It’s been my favourite part of the trip so far. Another couple were riding on Jumbo’s mom elephant. It was cool. So that’s the end of my elephant story. Bye bye!

Friday jan 13 2012
The Big Buddha
Today my family went exploring the Big Buddha. It is a giant statue on the top of a mountain. It is a giant statue made out of white marble. Buddha was a prince who lived in a palace a long time ago. He became a holy man because he saw the suffering in the world. The Buddhists worship Buddha in temples and Shrines. Shrines are little houses like doll houses that have little statues of buddha, flowers and incense. The Buddhists sit still and try not to think when they are meditating. They believe that they will be reborn when they die and that they are Wanting peace.

Friday Jan 13 2012
Cats and Dogs
Today I met a nice stray cat. I named it Flicker because his ear always flicked. I met another nice stray cat who I named Tiger because he looked like a tiger. They lived by the Big Buddha and were very tame. Lots of tourists were petting them and they were sleeping in the sun. I saw a couple of stray dogs too. My mom did not let me take any pictures of them. Our taxi driver almost ran over a stray dog but he did not. The dogs are all over the place in the streets. There are lots of stray cats and dogs in Thailand. One of the stray dogs was spotty so I named it Spot. Bye Bye!