An upcoming circus performance will explore the emotional toll of COVID-19 through fire dancing, high-flying acrobatics and electric violins.

NorthFIRE circus, an Ontario-based group of performers, is displaying “Theatre on Fire: from chaos to calm” at Abbey Gardens July 16-18.

Isabella Hoops, a performer and the show’s producer, said the upcoming act was created to move viewers through the seven stages of grief.

“I started thinking about how much this pandemic has effected all of us – we’ve all gone through these stages of grief,” Hoops said.

From shock to denial to acceptance and hope, Hoops and her fellow fire dancers and musicians will showcase their skills in choreographed sets that correspond to feelings and emotions they’ve dealt with during COVID-19.


Aerial acrobats will perform on 22-foothigh silks – using the fabric to perform spins and flips and electric violinist Dr. Draw will accompany the show’s exploration of processing a post-COVID world.

“With each stage [of grief] – we spent many hours just finding different movements that reflected how we feel during that stage,” Hoops said.

That’s not to say the performance is all COVID-induced gloom – acceptance and hope are prominent themes in the stages of grief and the Circus act.

“It’s joyful,” Hoops said. “It’s letting go of what we’ve been through, enjoying and rejoicing in what we have to look forward to.”

Hoops said the name of the show is also a nod to how the pandemic impacted performing arts. “So many of us artists just really went from chaos to calm,” she said.

Audience members will sit in physicallydistanced circles, and are encouraged to bring their own pillows, blankets and lawn chairs.

For tickets, visit

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