ABIGAIL MUNN | Director | Trapeze »

An accomplished dancer, choreographer, and aerialist, Abigail holds a BFA in Modern Dance from UC Santa Barbara. She made her first appearance in the ring as a child with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. She has since performed with Lone Star Circus, Zoppé Italian Family Circus, New Pickle Circus, Cabaret Verdelet, Circus Cabaret, Tease-O-Rama, Va Va Voom Room, The Velvet Hammer Burlesque, and of course, Circus Bella. Abigail was featured in the New York Times for Alma Esperanza Cunningham’s work “Princess”. She also co-directs the nouveau-vaudeville troupe Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, three-time “Best of the Bay” award winner: Internationally recognized, the Kitties have been very influential in the modern Burlesque resurgence. Co-Founder and Executive Director of Circus Bella, she has conceived and directed most of its productions for the past ten years.

STEVE SMITH | Head Jester »

Steve began his career as a clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1971 and went on to become that circus’s Goodwill Ambassador. He later was Dean of the Ringling Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College, a position he held for ten years, and also served as director for the 123rd edition of “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Steve’s work with circus has been a constant theme throughout his career. From 2005 to 2010 he served as co-creator and director of four original productions for New York’s Big Apple Circus (with which, in 2010, he was featured in the 6-hour television documentary “CIRCUS,” which aired nationally on PBS), led the Krooze Komic Physical Clown program for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for nine years, and conceived and directed two original circus-themed shows for Chicago’s Goodman School of Drama Children’s Theatre. Before moving to San Francisco in 2014, Smith was Creative Director at the Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota, Florida. As a teacher, he has served on the faculty of The Theatre School at DePaul University and the Ringling School of Art & Design. Smith has conducted master classes in Physical Comedy around the world from Moscow to Australia, Japan to Spain, and Finland to Mexico, as well as at major universities and festivals throughout the United States. He is Creative Director of San Francisco’s Circus Center and teaches there at the Clown Conservatory, which he represented, teaching and speaking, at the 50th Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Steve is a five-time Emmy Award winner for his work in children’s television and a 1993 inductee into the Clown Hall of Fame. He has worked as a director and creative consultant for numerous clients, including Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, McDonald’s, Verizon Wireless, Walt Disney World, Chuck Jones Film Productions, The Reduced Shakespeare Co., Princess Cruise Lines, NBC-TV, CBS-TV, and many Off-Broadway theatre, cabaret, theme park, and film projects.

SARA MOORE | Clown. »

Sara Moore is a beloved award-winning clown, actor, director and filmmaker. As the director of San Francisco Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory, she effusively trains the gifted students who, she says, are “the future of funny.” With over three decades of experience as a performer, director, teacher, and writer, her substantial body of creative work covers the full spectrum of clowning and spans multiple media, including the big top, casinos, film, off-Broadway, and regional theater. She has created work for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Krofft Puppets, Six Flags, and Merv Griffin’s Resorts where Griffin affectionately dubbed her “The new Fanny Brice.” She is always devising one of her trademark Human Cartoon productions, which have included her ecstatically-reviewed one-woman show, “Show Ho,” and “Wunderworld,” her fully-pantomimed retelling of the Alice’s adventures. Hailed by critics as a “21st century Pagliacci,” Sara continues to challenge our culture by reclaiming and defining clowning as the poetry of otherness, equal parts tenderness and hilarity, oopsiness and grace—humanity in high relief! Her newest production, “The Supers,” is being produced by Circus Center and will open at Z Space in San Francisco in the winter of 2020. She is excited and proud to be a part of Circus Bella!

CALVIN KU | Clown »

Born in Maspeth, Queens, New York, Calvin moved to California before he had time to realize where he was, and later trained in circus arts and clowning at UC Santa Cruz with Patty Gallagher, at San Francisco’s Circus Center and at the latter’s Clown Conservatory, and at Francine Côté Clown and Comedy School in Montreal. From performing at the International WuQiao Circus Festival in China to clowning in “Cirque De La Mer” at Sea World, he continues to bring laughter to audiences wherever he goes. Through the culmination of his many talents, Calvin performs his unique theatrical comedy for various companies all over the Bay Area, such as World Entertainment Services, Cedar Fairs, and in hospitals for the Medical Clown Project, of which he is the Artistic Director. Calvin has been a Circus Bella regular for several years.

MANUEL ACOSTA | Adagio | Chinese Pole »

Born in Havana, Cuba, Manuel began his career in sports and show business at the tender age of five, when he joined a children’s theater project called Barquito de Papel, under the direction of Cuban actor Enrique Almirante, and started studying martial arts at the same time! Five years later, an artistic gymnastics coach, impressed by Manuel’s abilities, suggested that he trained in gymnastics. Manuel felt that gymnastics and acting were a perfect combination that could lead to circus arts. In 2007, at age 16, he applied for Cuba’s National Circus School and was one of the only 22 students that were accepted that year. He graduated in 2011 and garnered several awards at the Pista Joven Festival, Cuba’s festival of young circus artists that showcases the Circus School’s new graduates. Manuel has since been featured at Carson & Barnes Circus, Roncalli’s Apollo Varieté in Düsseldorf, Germany, Circus Nock in Switzerland, Circus Ramos, and many more circus and variety venues here and abroad.

VERONICA BLAIR | Aerial Straps »

Veronica started her circus career at age 14 with San Francisco’s MakeACircus and trained in Chinese Acrobatics under Master Lu Yi at San Francisco’s Circus Center. She has since studied with some of the most celebrated and prominent artists in the circus field, including trapeze legend La Norma-Fox, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s first African-American Aerialist, Pa-Mela Hernandez, and the renowned “Godfather of the Tissu,” Gérard Fasoli of the French Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC). Selected by Cedric Walker, the founder of Universoul Circus, to work as a single trapeze artist, Veronica was resident aerialist of this highly successful show for 5 years. She has since performed with several prominent groups and productions around the globe, among which AntiGravity, Universal Studios Japan, and Warner Bros. Music. She has been a part of Germany’s hit circus show, “AFRIKA! AFRIKA!” and was the lead aerialist in KAMAU’s “BooDha” music video, with over 100k views on YouTube. Expanding her portfolio beyond performing, Veronica launched the development of “The Uncle Junior Project” in 2010. The ongoing documentary shines a light on the careers of African-American circus performers, including Emanual “Uncle Junior” Ruffin who, until after his death, remained largely uncredited for his contributions to American Circus.

DWOIRA GALILEA | Contortion »

A native of Coney Island, New York, Dwoira trained in rhythmic gymnastics at an early age and graduated from Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music, Arts and Performing Arts in New York City as a theater major. She also trained in circus arts with various coaches at the same time, before studying at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattelboro, Vermont and moving to the Bay Area, where she finished her training at San Francisco’s Circus Center. Dwoira is a contortionist and an aerialist and, besides many appearances with Circus Bella in the Bay Area, she has performed internationally in traditional and contemporary circuses, cruise ships, nightclubs, and corporate events.

CARLO GENTILE | Foot Juggling/Risley »

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Carlo has been teaching, directing, and performing circus for the past 15 years. He is a graduate of the San Francisco Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory and has trained in China, where he and his wife, Orlene, went to perfect their foot juggling act. Carlo has performed with the Royal Lichtenstein Circus as a clown, juggler, unicyclist, and diabolo artist, with St. Louis’ celebrated Circus Flora, has toured extensively with the Zoppé Italian Family Circus, and has appeared several times with Circus Bella’s “Circus in The Parks.” He and Orlene have served as Artistic Directors of CircEsteem and the Chicago Youth Circus.

ORLENE GENTILE | Foot Juggling »

Born in Los Angeles, Orlene has been singing and dancing since age three. She cut her teeth as a variety entertainer on the streets of India, Vietnam, and the backwoods of Thailand. Orlene is a graduate of the San Francisco Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory and has trained multiple times in China where she and her husband, Carlo, perfected their foot juggling act. Orlene has performed with Zoppé Italian Family Circus, Circus Monti in Switzerland, and at the Krystallpalast Varieté in Leipzig, Germany. With Carlo, she has served as Artistic Director of CircEsteem and the Chicago Youth Circus.

GIANLUCA “GIANNI MAGI” GENTILE | Risley »

Conceived in China and born in Woodland Hills, California. Gianluca, now twelve years old, is a clown and acrobat. He is inspired by the long history of acrobatic clown performers, including Fumagalli and the Fuma Boys. He has studied trapeze, Chinese pole, tap, and ballet. Performance credits include the Zoppé Family Circus, Circus Bella, El Circo Cheapo, CircEsteem, and the Chicago Youth Circus.

GIULIA “TRIXIE LOVE” GENTILE | Risley »

Conceived in Switzerland and born in Tucson, Arizona, Giulia, age 10, is an acrobat and aerialist. She has performed with the Zoppé Italian Family Circus, Circus Bella, and other shows. Most recently she completed a training program for trapeze and other general circus arts at CircEsteem in Chicago. She enjoys painting, dancing, and spinning carpets.

GIOIA MEI “TATLO” GENTILE | Risley »

Conceived in Germany and born in Chicago, Gioia, age 7, appeared for the first time in a circus ring when she was eight-week-old, with the Zoppé Italian Family Circus. She’s had a love of performing ever since… Currently she’s training as a Risley flyer and developing her headstands and handstands.

GIUSEPPINA "GUISI" GENTILE | Risley »

Born in Gilbert, Arizona, Giusi, age 2, is just starting out!

RUSLAN KHUSINOV |Chair Balancing »

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Ruslan is third-generation circus artist. His parents, Madiyar and Liliya performed acrobatics on camels before creating an acrobatic group with which they have toured the world presenting a basket acrobatics act. With his parents, or with his brother (in a hand-to-hand acrobatic act), or (eventually) as a soloist, Ruslan has performed in Russia, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, India, the Middle East and North and South America. In the United States, he has been featured in several prestigious venues in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, including in the hit show “Absinthe” at Caesar Palace Hotel & Casino. Most recently, he has appeared in the Tommy Bartlett’s Show at the Wisconsin Dells and has toured with Cirque Musica, a spectacular circus production that performs with various symphony orchestras all around the country.

WILLEM MCGOWEN | Diabolo Juggler »

Willem graduated from the École de Cirque de Québec, in Quebec City, Canada in 2017. Since then, he has performed with Chicago's Midnight Circus, Strut & Fret Production House, and the famous Circus Monti in Switzerland. He is very excited to be a part of Circus Bella's first ever winter spectacular! His high-risk and cross disciplinary act will wow jugglers, diaboloists, and dancers alike: in a world where so many diabolo acts tend to look alike, Willem's performance brings a true breath of fresh air to the specialty.

ILENAY PEÑA | Adagio | Chinese Pole »

Ilenay was born in the city of Havana, Cuba. Since early childhood she had been fascinated by Rhythmic Gymnastics, a sport she started practicing at the tender age of four with her mother’s unremitting support. She eventually developed very good skills and at age 10, she began training at Cuba’s National Gymnastics School and participated with Cuba’s National Team in national and international competitions. Rhythmic Gymnastics is an excellent gateway for circus arts, and in 2007, at age 16, Ilenay joined Cuba’s National Circus School, where she specialized as a contortionist. She ended four years later as the Grand Prize winner at her graduation show. She went on to perform internationally, adding, aerial silks, hand-to-hand and Chinese pole to her repertoire. She performs the latter two specialties with her partner, Manuel Acosta.

PAUL RESELL | High Wire »

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Paul trained in circus arts at the award-winning Circus Juventas, his hometown’s celebrated circus school. For over 20 years now, he has been involved in the circus and entertainment business, performing, rigging and coaching. His performing credits as a wire walker include the hit show “Absinthe” (currently in Las Vegas) in Australia, “Circus of Wonders” at Knott’s Berry Farm, corporate events and many more. He has worked on “Amaluna,” “The Beatles LOVE,” Totem,” and “O” for Cirque du Soleil, both in Las Vegas and around the world, and is an Instructor/Mentor for Cirque du Monde. Paul has done stunt rigging for film (with movies by James Cameron and Andrew Adamson), television and music videos (notably for the American hip-hop duo, Atmosphere), and has been an Instructor at Circus Juventas. His passion for circus has led him to Circus Bella for its first season under the big top.


Production Team:

KURT LANDISMAN | Lighting Design »

Kurt is happy to make his debut with Circus Bella at the beginning of this holiday tradition in the making. His previous work includes many years lighting the Pickle Family Circus and the New Pickle Circus, as well as two years designing the lighting for the Moscow Circus in Tokyo. His Designs have been seen throughout the Bay Area for many decades, including work for Berkeley Rep, ACT, San Jose Rep, Marin Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre, Center Rep, SF Playhouse, and many others. Nationally, his work has been seen at regional opera companies and theatres across the nation, as well as Sam Shepard’s premieres not only here in the Bay Area, but off-Broadway as well. He first met Abigail Munn at the offices of the San Francisco Opera, where he assisted Lighting Designer and Art Director, Thomas Munn, for many years ⎯ many years ago!

THOMAS J. MUNN | Scenic Design Consultant »

Thomas J. Munn, an internationally recognized Theatrical Designer, Consultant and Professor Emeritus (UC Davis) has designed for theater, opera, ballet, television, videos and industrials. A graduate of Boston University, he made his Broadway debut in 1974, designing scenery for “Brightower” by Dore Schary. In New York, as a member of USA 829, he was an active Scenic Artist as well as a Scenic and Lighting Designer. Local lighting credits include scenery and lighting for “Grapes of Wrath,” UC Davis, “She Loves Me” and “A Christmas Story” for San Francisco Playhouse, and lighting for the David Hockney production of “Turandot” that opened the 2017 San Francisco Opera season. He served as Lighting Designer for San Francisco Opera from 1976 through 2000, creating the lighting and special effects for over 200 productions, including the Emmy-nominated televised world premiere of “A Streetcar Named Desire” (Projection Design and Lighting) the Emmy Award-winning “La Gioconda,” and lighting design for “Meistersinger von Nuremberg,” “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” (San Francisco Opera and New York City Opera), “The Tsar’s Bride,” “Don Carlo” and “Semele.” Munn’s credits as Lighting Director for television include “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Samson et Dalila,” “La Bohème,” “Aida,” “Orlando Furioso,” “L’Africaine,” “Capriccio” and “Turandot.” Scenery and Lighting designs for San Francisco Opera include productions of “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” “Roberto Devereux,” “Pelleas et Melisande,” “Nabucco,” and “Billy Budd.” Other designs of note include lighting for “Mefistofele,” Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy; “Lulu,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Macbeth,” Netherlands Opera; and designs for Pittsburgh Opera, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera; “Candide,” Whitman College; “Julius Caesar,” “Beauty and The Beast,” Pioneer Theatre Company; “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Urinetown,” “Bluebeard’s Castle,” UC Davis. Ballet and Dance works for the Mary Anthony Dance Theatre in New York City; “The Nutcracker” and “Coppelia” for the Hartford Ballet and Ballet Arizona. As a Lighting Consultant he has worked on prestigious projects such as the renovated War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, Het Musiktheatre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Saint Marks Church renovation and the Napa Valley Opera House.

ROB REICH | Composer | Musical Director »

As one of the city’s stalwart underground artists, Rob Reich is quintessentially what makes the San Francisco music scene a vibrant and vital mecca for independent music. Reich started studying piano at age three. After graduating with a degree in Music Composition from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, he moved to the Bay Area, where he discovered the accordion, now his primary instrument. He is best known for his work with Tin Hat, Gaucho, and Circus Bella. His recent album “Shadowbox” was described by Downbeat Magazine as “an elegant quintet date that moves effortlessly between post-bop, jazz Manouche, and chamber-rock.” Andy Gilbert of East Bay Express writes, “Whatever context he’s in, Reich transforms it into a creative hothouse where thousands of musical flowers bloom.”

Christina Weiland | Costume Designer »

Christina began costuming as a circus aerialist, creating her own costumes for performance, and teaching herself the fundamentals of pattern making so that she could create whatever she imagined. Soon, other circus artists began commissioning her to make their costumes. Since then, she has been led down various paths, including musical theater, ballroom dance, ballet, opera, and even science, collaborating with the Academy of Sciences to provide costumes and props for their educational programs. She has furthered her education by studying pattern-making at Apparel Arts and has been learning about all aspects of the fashion industry. She has worked in the professional costume shops of Teatro ZinZanni, A.C.T, and Berkeley Rep, and she is also part of Berkeley Rep’s wardrobe crew. Christina is constantly seeking new challenges to grow as an artist and is delighted to return to her roots with Circus Bella.

Suzanne Santos | Production Director »

Suzanne Santos has been performing in theaters and circuses for 20 years. As an actor, Suzanne toured internationally with the award winning production of Corpus Christi. As a clown, her credits include Circus Couture, The Pickle Family Circus School Tour, The New York Clown Festival, Clowns Without Borders, El Circo Cheapo Cabaret, and Le Carnaval Carmagnole. She has also had the privilege of writing, creating, and directing for Dell'Arte Youth Academy, Prescott Circus, CircEsteem, SANCA, Aloft, and Circus Smirkus' Road Show in Vermont. She has worked for Equestre Zoppé with The Zoppé Family Circus as a member of the horse department. She has also worked as an administrator, supervisor, and production manager with many of these organizations. She is delighted to be working back in San Francisco with Circus Bella!