Cirque-It @ Circus North

Anna Crooke Photography


This past week the Distillery District has been taking over by a circus extravaganza courtesy of Circus North. Performances, workshops and parades showcasing talent from Toronto and the rest of Canada have been on display for the public. Circus North also hosted a unique event as part of their week’s line-up with Cirque-It, an evening of circus performances featuring wearable technology created by Toronto fashion designers and makers.

Wendy Ng, designer of Dystropolis, was one of the Toronto designers who participated in the event. Dystropolis is a line best known for its future-forward thinking, so marrying wearable technology with fashion is a fitting match for this innovative designer.

“I’ve always been interested in wearable tech and anything that is bio-mechanic, android and stuff like that,” Wendy told us.


Anna Crooke Photography
Behind stands a model wearing a Dystropolis piece from the latest collection. From L to R: Eric Boyd of Sensebridge, Wendy Ng (designer, Dystropolis), Rhonda Lucy, Meaghan of Fashion Savage, model wearing a piece from Dystroplis. In the front is Victoria Ellingham wearing the jellyfish dress by Dystropolis


She created two pieces for the event. One was a dress which we saw premiere at Fashion Art Toronto (FAT). A light based piece, the dress is inspired by the bio-luminescence of jellyfish. The dress illuminates and surrounds the wearer with a terrarium halo. Victoria Ellingham created a modern dance performance to show off this piece, with the lighting on the dress running on a programmed loop. The piece was a collaboration between Eric Boyd of Sensebridge and Ng of Dystropolis.

The second piece was one that Wendy Ng specifically created for Cirque-It in collaboration with Breq Labs and Wave DNA. The piece was created for a Rhonda Lucy, a performance artist and dancer, who created a Native-inspired dance representing Raven the Trickster. Wendy Ng created a garment that encapsulated the performer’s ideas, complete with lighting wired by Breq Labs. But it was the exo-glove that was created in collaboration with Breq Labs and Wave DNA that was the highlight. Breq Labs’ smart glove worked in harmonious conjunction with Wave DNA composition software to allow Rhonda Lucy to control the music using her hands as she performed. “Depending on where her hand is in space and which two fingers she touches together, the music you will…hear over the speakers [will] change,” said Saro Migirdicyan (Wave DNA).

Throughout the evening, we were treated to performances where wearable technology highlighted and was controlled by the circus athletes. Many of the tech and fashion collaborations at the event were light-based, controlled by touch sensitivity and movement. Some, like The Raven, were sound based.

“These sensational performances will have you thinking about art in tech, and how wearable tech is changing how we express ourselves and how we entertain ourselves. It’s not just about notifications and fitness,” Tom Emrich of We Are Wearables said as he opened the evening.

Wearable technology is so much more than smart watches and fitness bands. The potential for creating smart textiles and garments is limitless, and we are excited to see how this growing facet of the industry will grow.

We loved Wendy Ng of Dystropolis’ statement on wearable technology and fashion: “I just think it’s totally limitless and imaginative. I can create something I never thought possible.”

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