Life's A Circus

Marco Baumgartner was only 12 years old when he was first invited to tag along with a circus troupe, led by family friends Dawn & Bruno Spechinger; making his debut as a juggler only a year later. The Swiss native spent most of his youth travelling with various circuses, meeting circus artistes from all across Europe.

Jennifer Gasser during her fabulous hula hoop performance at the Swiss Dream CIrcus - Pix by Kenneth Tan for 9 Inch Tales

His parents remained supportive of his running away to join the circus, an act most parents would prohibit with the wag of a finger and a stern look, “Most parents would never let their children join the circus but my parents didn’t mind at all. From the age of 12, I spent most of my school holidays with the circus, doing everything from helping with props to performing; but my parents did insist that I get a “real job” so I would have something to fall back on.”

After studying and working as a graphic designer, Baumgartner later found himself working as a flight attendant for Swissair in search for a more carefree life that allowed him to travel around the world. It was during his tenure with Swissair that he realized that a career in the circus was truly what he had been longing for, moving on to conceptualizing the idea of building a circus in Asia.

“During my childhood, I travelled with the circus all across Europe, after living in Asia for several years I thought it would be great if I could bring some of the magic I experienced to this side of the world and we did plenty of research and concluded that Singapore would be a good place to start,” he relates, “The first Swiss circus, The Taipan Circus was a huge success in 2000. After 14 years I felt it was time to bring back the magic,”

It was also during his time with Swissair that he met Ismail Stork, the owner of Le Tresor, who was also a flight attendant. Swiss Dream Circus is in Malaysia courtesy Le Tresor Legacy Ventures and they have spared no expense in the production of this magnificent show. From building the Big Top in Mutiara Park from scratch, ensuring the interior environment gives off a circus-esque ambiance to keeping guests cool and comfortable with piped air-conditioning – Le Tresor went the full nine yards to ensure local circus-goers had a good time. That too, at a fairly affordable price.

Ismail and Marco Baumgartner met when they worked together as flight attendants. 

“It’s been a long time since the circus has come to town and I made it my highest priority to ensure that a majority of the locals would be able to afford to bring their whole family to the circus. Initially, I had even set it to a lower price but had to raise it a little more to accommodate the many expenses that came with such a big production – such as building the Big Top, hiring the performers, paying for their accommodation here, sound and lighting, carpeting the tent and hiring chairs,” explains Ismail, whose company is also responsible for the weekend street market at The Curve and two concept stores at The Curve and another in Wangsa Walk Mall.

The Swiss Dream

Like every job there are perks and drawbacks but for the most part, Baumgartner is euphoric he has finally achieved his life-long dream of living the circus life, feeling especially blessed when he sits outside his caravan, sipping on coffee and watching the rest of the world hurry on to their desk jobs, “Moments like these are when I think to myself ‘Wow, I have such an amazing job!’”, shares Baumgartner whose shows back home usually begin at 4pm, “ I fell in love with the circus at first sight, I love the joy and happiness it brings to audiences of all ages. Especially since piloting my own circus, I absolutely love the rush of excitement that is experienced every time I step out in front of the crowd!”

Marco Baumgartner, ring master. 

Although travelling with the circus means he doesn’t get to see his family as much as he would like, Baumgartner isn’t one to complain, “When you’re part of a circus, you’re part of a family who understand each other on a whole different level. Just within the Swiss Dream Circus family, we speak German, English, Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian and Malay but the language never gets in our way.” Most of the performers from Europe speak little to no English but for them it’s enough just to give a simple sign, a special glance or just a word and they immediately understand each other, “We speak the circus language!”, shares Baumgartner with a warm and appreciative laugh.

Duo Kvas,  defying the laws of gravity!

Baumgartner envisions to inspire young and old alike to rekindle their romance with chasing dreams and working towards what their hearts truly desire, “I also love the idea of Swiss Circus! All around the world, Switzerland is known for producing top notch products such as Swiss chocolate and Swiss watches. Just with the word ‘Swiss’ in front, you already know that you’re going to receive quality products. I want to apply the same connotation to the idea of a Swiss circus, too,” says Baumgartner.

From 6th-15th June, Baumgartner, Ismail and his cast of professional international performers wowed a recurrent sold-out circus arena with a two hour spectacle of music, spot lights, rope acts, hand acrobatics, bouncy ball shows, diabolo juggling, antipode acts, BMW bicycle routines and a clown with side-splitting antiques to create an intimate and magical experience.

This article was published on June 27, 2014 in Unreserved.