MEET THE CREW
Wini McKay, Founder/ Director of the LA Circus, a presentation of the Los Angeles Foundation for the Circus Arts, is a native of Los Angeles. She knows the city and has a true love for it’s culture and arts. Graduated in the LA School system including college at LA Trade Tech studying dance and management. She took her dance ability on the road with a traveling circus learning a single trapeze act from the famous circus performer, Dorothy Herbert under the watchful eye of Big John Strong and creating her own original round trapeze.
In 1986, she was honored by being accepted into the Guinness Book of World Records. After twenty years of circus experience she returned to LA to start her own entertainment consulting firm with clients such as Disney, Circus of the Stars, Yoshimoto, Kogyo Toyota, Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Dentsu to name a few. In the process of starting her own business, she realized that Los Angeles had a great need for a Circus Arts Foundation. At that time, the LA Circus was born. In the past 21 years, the LA Circus has reached international acclaim. Acts from the LA Circus have won medals in Circus Festivals around the world. The Los Angeles Foundation for Circus Arts solely credits Ms McKay for this progress.
Wini and Chester now run a successful prop house and circus/carnival research facility.
Celebrating his 65th year in Show Business, Chester has proven some things truly get better with age. He first acquired a position in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1981 and in 1999, he beat his own personal record to secure this prestigious award.
Chester has literally performed his way around the World, Asia, Europe, Canada, South America, Australia and every state in the USA.
He is a native of Pennsylvania, where he learned his art from a famous circus performer who happened to be his neighbor. At 17, he ran off to join the exciting life of show business. Travelling with some of the grandest circuses in America, Ringling Brothers, Emmett Kelly Circus, John Strong Circus, Great London and many others. Chester was the featured act with the famous Harlem Globe Trotters for over 7 years.
He is the only performer balancing and juggling huge heavy items such as a refrigerator, sumo wrestlers, couches and of course, what he is most famous for, the CABLE TABLE. This table is 10 feet long weighing over 130 pounds. Seeing is Believing.
Chester now lives in Los Angeles, CA. He performs on American TV frequently and is quite well known. Chester is involved in teaching children his incredible skill at the LA Circus Workshops.
Along with being a circus performer, Chester is a crafted tent master, tent maker and instructor, that is why Chester was chosen to be the tent master from many other candidates for the Water for Elephants film. He has set up tents around the United States, Canada and Japan. He is also knowledgeable about rigging, electrical and ground and wind resistance. His wide source of knowledge has trained several tent masters that now work with Cirque du Soliel and many other circuses around the world.
He plans to retire at 99. MAYBE!!!
From ballerinas to elephants to trapeze artists, Kiyomi creates costumes with the greatest of ease. Throughout her 20-plus-year career as a costume designer, Kiyomi has worked with LA’s top dance companies and recording artists like Justin Bieber, T-Pain, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilear, OutKast, and Koda Kumi. Along with the challenge of creating eye-catching dance costumes, much of her work demands familiarity with aerial, acrobatic and circus movement. Yet she wouldn’t have it any other way, “Circus-style costumes are very bold and flashy. The old styles are coming back-vibrant looks with sequins, rhinestones and bright colors. It allows me to be more creative”.
Kiyomi has been blessed with the talent about costume and wardrobe design from her mother. At the age of 3, Kiyomi started dancing and her mother designed and constructed her costumes until she went off to college. In Seattle, Kiyomi still was dancing and performing but also started designing costumes for various dance and theatre groups, film and photographers.
In 1990, Kiyomi moved to Los Angeles and has designed costumes and wardrobe throughout United States, Japan and Europe.
Kiyomi was nominated for Best Costume by the NAACP Theatre Awards.
Kiyomi can design and construct costumes from original concept or from a picture with ease and within your budget and time frame.
Kiyomi currently works with Justin Bieber, LA Circus, Myo Dance Production, Donna Sternberg Dancers, Bentia Bike’s DanceArt Company, Scott Rhea, Stephen Seimen and Bud & Cynthia Yorkin to name a few.
Kiyomi’s vintage costume design will be seen in the wonderful photos from Wayne Schoenfeld’s “Circus of the Past and Psychodrama of the Circus” international premier exhibit at Cirque du Soliel Montreal headquarters October 2007 and the short film “The Butterfly Circus”.
Some other of Kiyomi’s creative looks can be seen on the Superbowl Budweiser commercial, “Bones”, Christina Aguilear’s “Hurt” video, John C. Reilly GQ Jan 2008 issue, BET Awards 2008 T-Pain Hip Hop Weekly to name a few.
LAFCA Secretary/Treasurer, and L.A. Circus Director, holds a degree in journalism from the University of California, which he puts to use in promoting the various shows and workshops presented by the LA Circus. Writing is only one of his talents. He is also a juggling instructor, teaching the art of juggling to LA Circus workshop attendees, and as an member of the international Jugglers Association teaches children in parks and schools throughout the West. Tom’s roots in show business go back many generations. His father was a showman and charter member of L.A.’s famous Magic Castle and from him, Tom has acquired one of the finest collections of antique magic in the country. Tom is also an inventor of original magic effects that have appeared in magic journals and books. Tom not only passes on the great traditions of the circus through his work with LAFCA, he actively teaches magic to juniors, promoting the art of magic to future generations.