August 31, 2007

Online Review of Cirque Imaginings Show

After returning home from a busy 12 day tour with Cirque Imaginings, writer/producer/clown friend Randy sent me this online review he found. It is only part of a much bigger newsletter, "The Clown Newsletter", put out by Toby Kid, from Iowa (the RED highlighted words refer to the acts I was involved with. -DonB!):

Item #2) Cirque Imaginings Show

On Tuesday 8/21, I [Toby Kid] took three of my four kids to a wonderful show. Here is what they thought of it.

Gertie age 6: My favorite part was when he rode the little bike and the little unicycle. My other favorite part was when the bad guy came out and made the fire. I really liked the part when they juggled, both balls and clubs.

Frodo age 13: I really like the part when the Clown got up on the really big unicycle. It was really cool when they juggled and they juggled together and took the balls from each other. I also liked the when the clown did the Diablo. The cowboy was really talented, when he used the ropes and jumped through them and stuff.

Smudgie age 8: My favorite part was when Emily asked about all the games and then uncle said everything about the playground being a playstation and when they juggled and took the ball away from each other and when the uncle climbed on the chairs and juggled the clubs it was awesome. I liked the part of the evil magic because I liked the sword trick and I liked the one where the uncle gets straps up the bad guy goes around and the uncle ends up closing the curtain and then he opens it and then he closes it up again and talks to Emily. I probably liked the silver stretch bag because I get to use the stretch bag on my clown character.
I also liked the part where he rides around on the big unicycle and the small unicycle and the small bike.

And another review from another audience member

Cirque Imaginings Review
By Vicky “Trixy” Garrett

It was 5:50, on the 21st of August, in D.M., IA, as I pulled into the parking lot of First Assembly of God Church. I wanted to get to “Cirque Imaginings” early to get a good seat. It was to start at 7:00. I needn’t have worried—the parking lot was pretty empty except for the bigger than life traveling bus for the entertainers, there to do their last on-the-road performance out of five.
I slipped into the sanctuary where some last-minute rehearsing was going on—that’s the kind of things we clowns love to see. Don Bursell (a former Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Baily circus clown and Disneyland performer from Mora, MN)and Ben Christensen (a college student in Minneapolis, MN who has been juggling since he was five—see his amazing resume and talent at were rehearsing their dual –juggling scene. I could have watched that all night by itself! Those two are soooo talented! As I marched myself right down to the third row center, one of them (that would be me) yelled out, “Oh good you’re here—now we can start the show!” (They didn’t know me from beans.)

Randy Christensen, from Willmer, MN, who wrote and produced the show, was looking very comfortable and not at all like he was going to be putting on a show in an hour. (It was he, whom I mainly came to see, as I’ve been in one of his classes and knew what a talented, wonderful pastor and performer he was.) “Uh, oh,” he mused, “I don’t have my contacts.” Plans were then made for someone to go get them for him in his motel room. The local pastor then came in and advised me and now some other clown friends, that we needed to wait out in the commons area as they were ready to do a sound check.

But about 10-15 minutes later, here comes Randy Christensen out to greet us (what a nice man) and talk a bit about how the show came about. He said he’d met each of these other nine participants at various conferences around the states and when he decided on this year’s production, he drew on his notes and memory of people he’d met and pulled them all together, including fourth grader Emily Chermak, from Willmar, Minnesota, who was the lead in this year’s production about a girl visiting her grandfather (R. Christensen). After discovering there were no Nintendos, Wiis, or any other electronic equipment around, her grandfather showed her some books to read, but warned her not to read the dark and sinister book. She complied in the beginning, and all that she read came to life in the other characters who rode unicycles, walked around taller than houses (we were on stilts), and some who came in the form of bags with inside appendages stretching the bags here and there and dancing around. Darren & Heather Stevenson (mimes from Rochester, NY who also did much of the choreography for Cirque Imaginings) were great at miming and Don Bursell’s rodeo roping and skipping in and out of the large rope circle he was twirling was a treat to see! Ben Christianson turned his saxophone into a wonderful prop that furnished us with lovely music and magically fit right into the scene at the same time. At one point Randy’s character climbed chairs and piled them one on top of the other up to an extremely scary height where he finally posed on top of them.

Greg Phillips (an associate pastor in Melbourne, FL, a regular performer at Wacky World in Orlando, and has been on Comedy Central and opened for Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld and Gallagher) was mesmerizing with his black costumed magic when Emily dared open the black sinister book. Characters and creatures were coming out of no-where to add to the scene. The show ended with Grandfather talking with his granddaughter about heeding his paternal advice in the future regarding staying away from bad things and showed her the book that would always lead her in the right direction—God’s book. She then treated us to a lovely solo about the “good book.” It was a wonderful show put on for a ch urch full of children and some adults (a number of clowns incognito) sprinkled throughout who were all extremely glad they came!

To read the article in its original format, click HERE

It's nice to see someone saying nice things about the show, and also about the performance bits I do. In a world where compliments are few, I'm glad they appreciated my little part in making the show so memorable for them.

Have a great day. - DonB!

August 28, 2007

August = Very Busy!

It seems like only yesterday that I posted my last update to this newsletter. Then I realized it was way back on August 4th! Life goes by too fast sometimes.

August 5th found me doing a morning program for New Life Church in Woodbury, Minnesota. They were a great group of attentive kids, and with the group being fairly small (about 80 people), I was thankful to be able to talk with them one-to-one following the show.

I left that evening to head to northern Minnesota to help teach circus skills with Cirque du Jour at Kamp Kace, where kids and families that have been affected by cancer had the entire week to learn circus skills, and then put on a show (and it was FABULOUS) at the end of the week for their families. Watching the campers, ranging in age from 6-17, perform at the end of the week, was like being a proud parent, as if it were my own kids putting on the show. Thanks go to Chris Allison for inviting me to help teach for the week. Chris, whom I haven't seen in over 15 years, was my first roommate at Ringling Brothers Clown College way back in 1984. It was great seeing him again, and working in such a successful circus arts program.

I then rushed back home to get my stilts, and headed to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to walk my stilts for Starkey Labs' BIG anniversary party. It was a very hot day, but a lot of fun juggling and doing close-up magic for the employees and their families.

The next day (Sunday), my daughter, Deanna, and I headed over to Willmar, Minnesota, to begin rehearsals for the Cirque Imaginings (CI) tour. Cirque Imaginings is a show that I helped put together back in 2002, and it has taken 5 years to compile the performers for another tour. Randy Christensen wrote the entire show, about a young girl that spends time visiting her old uncle Oxford. Through the exploration of Oxford's many library books, Emily learns to use her imagination. She also learns how the choices she makes can affect her for the good, or the bad. The show featured Randy Christensen (Oxford P. Nutts, juggler, skateboarder, chair balancer, stilt-walker, mime, writer, director), Greg Philips (good magician, bad magician, message-giver), Darren & Heather Stevenson (sound tech, dancer, mime, choreographer), Ben Christensen (juggler, Chinese Yo-Yo-ist), Emily Chermak (lead part, loud laugher), Micah Philips (stage manager, runner, equipment loader), Deanna Bursell (Zig-Zag girl, dancing bag, giggler), Les Chermak (coach driver, workaholic), and me.

We toured Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa (To see a good description of the show, click HERE). It was a very exhausting tour, but worth every minute of time spent with other performers, meeting people after the shows, and hearing the audience respond to the message (I had to listen from backstage) each night. Thanks to all of the folks that made the tour financially possible, and for the churches that hosted the show. It was another BIG success. I only hope we don't have to wait another 5 years to do it again.

When I returned home from the Cirque Imaginings tour, I had a day to get my stuff together, and head to the Twin Cities. I did my first live mannequin gig, on August 24th, at the Minnesota State Fair, for Mannequin in Motion. It was strange how fascinated people are with a person that stands completely still. At least 30 times a minute, I could hear people saying "how does he not blink?!?", or "that is so strange!" A FUNNY STORY: The couple that lives across the street from us in Mora (80 miles from the Fair) were talking to me the next day, and mentioned he saw a "genii robot-guy" at the fair. When I told him that it was me, he ran into his house to tell his wife the strange news. Neither of them even knew it was me behind the costume and make-up. One of my daughter's friends walked right up to me, stared at me for a minute, said, "That's weird!", and walked away. She never even knew it was me. Now THAT'S weird.

Later that night, Deanna & I both were mannequins for an event for Arthur Murray dance studios customer appreciation event. I came to life occasionally and juggled, and Deanna came to life occasionally to do some ribbon dancing. Again, it was a fun way to use my entertainment skills, in a whole new way: standing still for a long time. I never thought I could do it.

On Saturday afternoon, I went back to Calvary Community Church (for the 8th time) and presented my DonB! Variety Show for their community outreach event. Their sanctuary was packed with community people, and I presented my spinning plates routine for the finale, and broke more plates than I ever have in a long time. It's the breaking of the plates that makes the routine so much fun, for me AND for the audience.

I then headed back down to the State Fair for two more hours of mannequin work. The genii I played was a little more interactive this time, performing magic tricks with the tips dropped at my feet. To see more photos, click HERE.

I then packed my show up and headed back to Trout Lake Camp for a show for their family camp. It is the 14th or 15th time I have performed there. James Rock, the program director, requested that I do the spinning plates finale, so I did. I think I only broke about 4 or 5 plates.

Please pray that the rest of this year can be busy, profitable, and offer some good times of ministry through whatever events come our way. May God bless you as much as he has me and my family. Drop me a line anytime at


A Great Unicycle Game

After searching for years to find a "good, playable" online unicycle game, my friends at have come up with one. It is named

Downhill Challenge.

It's easy to learn, easy to play, and it actually is FUN (I made it to Level 4 my first try). Go ahead, play it. Then go to and order your own unicycle. Then try the same tricks that you played in the game. I triple-dog-dare ya.
Click on the picture to play the game.

August 4, 2007

DonB! in Georgia & Alabama

I only have about an hour to compile all of this stuff, so I'll have to keep it short. Here goes...
On July 19th I left to start driving to Georgia to teach and perform at the TNT Christian Clown Retreat. I performed on Wednesday night, and taught 3 or 4 classes throughout the week.

I had the privilege of meeting up with some clown friends from around the country, as well as many folks that I now consider my clown friends, whom I had never met before.
I took many pictures from my vantage point, so you should go and see if you can find yourself. To see the entire album of photos from the trip, click HERE.

After camp, I stayed 2 days in Montgomery, Alabama, and took a couple of trips to Hobby Lobby (why don't we have one of these in the Twin Cities?). While at Hobby Lobby, I ended up showing a family at the other check-out counter a magic trick. As it turned out, when I headed down to Selma, Alabama (about 40 miles away), that same family goes to the church that I was to perform in! It's a small world isn't it?
In Selma, I presented two programs for their family VBS-type event. The first night was the "DonB! Variety Show" with a basic message, and the second night was the "Dr. of Merriment Show" with an evangelistic message. It was two great nights of fun and messages. I've already been invited back for next year!

While in Selma, I wanted to learn the history of the town, so a young man from Selma named Robert, took me around and showed me all of the Selma historical sites. Selma is the historic site of the mass demonstrations of African-Americans trying to achieve the right to vote in 1965. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led protesters across the Edmund Pettus bridge, where they were attacked and beaten by police officers, and caused to turn back and flee over the bridge. This event led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, giving all Selma, and then all people across the United States the right to vote, regardless of race. Selma is a city full of history, and I found it very fascinating to see the sites I had only read about in history books.

As I headed back to Minnesota, I received a phone call from my wife, Debbie, asking me if I had heard the tragic news. As all of you know by now, a main interstate bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, leaving at least 5 dead, 79 injured, and many still missing in the river. Pray for all of the people of Minnesota, that we can use this as a time to draw close as a state, and that the families of those missing or dead will be comforted in this time of tragedy. It is almost surreal when this happens so close to home.

Well, I leave tomorrow to do a show in Woodbury, MN, and then up to northern Minnesota for 5 days to teach at a circus camp. I will return to my office (if only for 2 days) on the afternoon of the 11th, and then 12 days touring with the Cirque Imaginings tour in the Midwest.
I will talk to you all when it starts to settle down around here.

Take care, and may God bless you as much as He has my family & me.