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Daredevil Circus Company Performs at Amway Family Fireworks on July 5 [Video]

Daredevil Circus Company performed for the Amway Family Fireworks last year in Grand Rapids, and is making another appearance for the Independence Day weekend celebration at 8 p.m. Saturday in Ah-Nab-Awen Park. (Photo: Daredevil Circus Company/Anthony Nowack)

A homegrown Grand Rapids circus troupe is performing Saturday in a return show for the Amway Family Fireworks celebration.

Daredevil Circus Company brings its Cirque du Soleil-style show to the Amway Family Fireworks at 8 p.m. July 5 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids.

Daredevil Circus Company/Jon Clay Photo

“I kind of brought the circus to Grand Rapids and I’m working to keep it alive,” said Cassie Truskowski, the thirtysomething founder and president of Daredevil Circus. “I’m proud of what we started here.”

Daredevil Circus does shows across West Michigan and the U.S., including at Amway Family Fireworks last year, ArtPrize in 2011, Founders Fest and Electric Forest Festival, she said.

Its repertoire ranges from fire breathing and juggling to aerials, acrobatics and contortions. Its schedule, with performances at primarily festivals and corporate events, is heavy many weekends from May through October; with other dates including birthday parties, Halloween, as angels for churches around Christmas and private gatherings.

The troupe has five core members — aerialist-strongman Phil Glovick, aerialist Monique Devillier, contortionist-aerialist Kaeslynn Fisher, juggler Will Oltman and aerialist-pyro professional Truskowski. It augments with other performers, depending on the show.

Daredevil Circus is being accompanied for the Amway Family Fireworks performance by Danger Damsels, a performance and dance troupe with a half dozen or so members which Truskowski also founded and leads.

It’s all about being the focus and entertaining audiences, said the West Catholic High School graduate, who’s been professionally performing as an aerialist, dancer, actress and fire breather for more than a decade. “Being a dancer and a gymnast (growing up), it all just started flowing for me.”

The entertainer appeared on the third season of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2008. In addition to leading Daredevil Circus and Danger Damsels, she also teaches aerial arts and gymnastics at For the Kidz Gymnastics in Wyoming and the Grand Rapids Circus. She does all this while caring for a young daughter, Katarina, born in January to she and Ryan VanderVeen, her spouse and “resident pack mule.”

“I’m hoping she’ll love doing all the things I do, but she will be her own person,” Truskowski said. “I just love teaching, kids’ classes; adult classes.”

But while she loves teaching, she truly enjoys performing — like the other members of Daredevil Circus and Danger Damsels.

“We really love doing big Grand Rapids events; just being part of the city,” Truskowski said.

For the Saturday performance, Danger Damsels’ USO-style ’50s-inspired doo-wop show is to include singer Angie Brown performing “America the Beautiful” and Truskowski figures on doing some fire-breathing with Daredevil Circus.

“It should be a nice variety show; a family-friendly show,” she said.

Amway Family Fireworks
Amway Family Fireworks for 2014 starts mid-afternoon Saturday at Ah-Nab-Awen Park next to Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on the west side of the Grand River.

The event includes family fun activities, games, food trucks, vendors exhibits, music and entertainment and runs through the fireworks display, which begins about 10:30 p.m. EST.

The music and entertainment runs in the evening, starting at 6 p.m. EST. Besides Daredevil Circus Company, the line-up of performances includes:

Re/Max of Grand Rapids is sponsoring the Family Fun Zone from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. EST at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The family-fun activities include old-fashioned games, a photo booth and more. Starting at 5:45 p.m. EST, Re/Max’s signature 72-foot tall hot air balloon visits.

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