HE has spent two decades plying his trade around the world, from Las Vegas to the Arctic Circle.
Now, diabolo juggler Donald Grant has returned to his roots, entertaining crowds in the Capital as part of the inaugural Edinburgh International Circus Festival – and he’s been honoured for his unusual skills.
The former performer with Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil was awarded the Edinburgh Bronze Star by a judging panel consisting of Steve Cardownie, pictured right – Deputy Lord Provost and the city’s festivals and events champion – among others.
Donald, 40, who always performs in a kilt, said: “I don’t do this for awards but it’s always nice when people say you have done something well. There are lots of good things in the show – there’s comedy, skilful and dangerous things, so I was very happy to get the Bronze Star.”
Donald, who trained at the world-famous Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal and lives in Colinsburgh, Fife, has performed everywhere from New Zealand to Kenya. He taught himself to juggle around the age of 15 during a summer job checking tickets at a golf course.
Donald added: “I usually get a spot for one or two shows at the Edinburgh Festival so it’s really nice to play for the whole circus festival.”
Carol Gandey, executive producer of the festival, said: “We had so many world class acts, the judges faced a really tough choice to pick a winner.”
Two Bulgarian circus artistes performing one of the most dangerous acts in the world won the top award. Daredevil duo Sifolini received the Edinburgh Gold Star after thrilling 1200 people at Ocean Terminal Big Top with a breathtaking routine on the wheel of death – a giant metal arm rotating through 360 degrees, suspended 30 metres above the ground.
The judging panel awarded the Edinburgh Silver Star to the Ukrainian comedy trio Equivokee.
Before judging got underway, Councillor Cardownie welcomed the introduction of a circus festival to the myriad of cultural events at the Fringe.
He said: “We gave the acts marks out of ten and the judges who were involved in the circus industry gave them marks out of 20, because they have more technical knowledge. Every single one of the acts was absolutely fantastic.
“I thought Donald was great, I couldn’t believe the things he was doing.”
Although the circus jury made their choices last week, there is still one final award to be made on Sunday after the circus festival’s last performance.
At the end of each daily show, the audience is given the chance to vote for their favourite act. The performer with the most votes will win The People’s Choice award.