They declared him crazy, but Halenaar Dimitri is still building his own circus

Sint Truiden

This week Circus Inaya landed in Sint-Truiden. Never heard of it you say? That is possible, because Inaya is a completely new circus, even the only one in Limburg, just founded by Halenaar Dimitri Nollet (36). “Family and friends thought I was crazy, but it’s a childhood dream come true.”

Ringmaster Dimitri hosts the show, but he also does the box office before the show.© Sven Dillen

There was a time when it was quite an experience, colorful posters on almost all poles announced it: the circus is coming to the village! It seems like days gone by, but Dimitri Nollet disagrees. “Circus is not dead yet, far from it. Okay, there are fewer groups than before, but when I see that our place is filling up nicely, I still believe in it.” That tent is currently in Sint-Truiden, behind wzc ‘t Meiland.

catering industry

Circuses are traditionally passed down from father to son, not so in the Nollet family. “My father trades in fruit and I had a catering business until 2020. But since childhood I was already fascinated by the circus and entertainment in general. I often played clown at birthday parties, but my own circus was my dream.” De Halenaar sold his catering business, but corona broke out not much later. “Well, then of course I couldn’t do much, so I picked up an old hobby again: magic. After a while I was able to perform again, and so I gradually came into contact with circus people. When I heard that Magic Circus was looking for a buyer in Antwerp, I didn’t hesitate.”

One of the acts of Circus Inaya: juggling with fire.© Sven Dillen


Dimitri finally had his own circus, but the picture was not quite right. “I was working with a name that already existed, but I wanted something that was completely my own. When you work that hard, I think it deserves its own name. Moreover, the tent was rather small, I had the feeling that people did not take the circus seriously.” De Halenaar made the decision and started all over again from scratch. “I bought a bigger tent and started looking for artists. At the end of last year I did the Sintercirque in Halen, where I picked up two artists for this tour. Via Facebook I found a Portuguese carnival family, whose daughters juggle and hula hoop. The father helps with the construction and the attributes.” Circus Inaya was born: “Named after my two daughters: Indi and Anaya. They also participate during the performance, only today they are not there. And of course I’m the clown (laughs).”

Dimitri presents the show as a clown. Here he is folding balloons for a girl in the audience.© Sven Dillen


Family and friends declared him crazy: who will start a completely new circus in 2023? “The harder everyone tried to convince me not to do it, the more courage it gave me to do it anyway. But now that they see that things are going well, they are proud.”The circus director does not want to say that it is always easy. “It is often difficult to find a pitch. A lot of green open space is now fully built up, many municipalities simply no longer have room for a circus. In some places it is also forbidden to work with animals. And yes, we work with dogs. But they don’t sit here all day in a cage and they are very well taken care of. Come and see if they are unhappy here.”

The performance also has an act with four dogs. “In some places it is forbidden to work with animals,” said circus director Dimitri.© Sven Dillen

Last week Circus Inaya premiered in Alken, on Wednesday it was Sint-Truiden’s turn. About 100 visitors – young and old – found their way to the site behind wzc ‘t Meiland for a show of almost two hours. We reviewed: Dimitri as a clown/presenter, a dog act, jugglers, a trapeze act, tightrope walking and so much more.

On Saturday and Sunday you can still see Circus Inaya at work in Sint-Truiden, followed later by Bilzen, Maaskant and the rest of Flanders, among others. The autumn tour will start in September and there will be a Sinterklaas and Christmas circus.

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