Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review

Valentine’s Day tends to polarize people into two groups: those who can’t wait to receive flowers, chocolates and cards from their significant other and bask in the ooey-gooey love that the holiday promotes, and those who despise the forced romanticism fueled by disingenuous greeting cards and pre-packaged roses.

Whatever your feelings about the most lovey-dovey of holidays, “My Circus Valentine,” a Valentine’s Day-themed variety show, offers something for everyone, from the bitter cynics to the hopeless romantics.

The show will be held Feb. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Cirque Lab on 2107 Iron St. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance, and $12 if purchased at the door. Members of the Bellingham Circus Guild, which promotes and supports circus arts in Whatcom County, are performing in the show.

“The show is not bound by the cookie-cutter concepts of Valentine’s Day and will have something for everyone, not just happy couples,” said Anneka Deacon, a founding member of the Bellingham Circus Guild and producer of this year’s show. “It is more than a show; it is an event, an experience.”

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u'Two aerialists performing during the last year's show. Photo courtesy of Jorge Lausell.'

Deacon said that in the first part of the evening, guests are encouraged to mingle with performers and enjoy live music, as well as food and drinks from local vendors. The show itself will include music, dancing, juggling, aerial arts and acts by 15 to 20 performers, many of whom are guild members.

“[The cast members] will be bringing their polished acts to the stage in a rare opportunity to be paid to do what is a labor of love for most of us,” Deacon said.

The show may have a Valentine’s Day theme, but Dream Frohe, an aerialist performing in the show and another founding member of the guild, said that people don’t have to bring a date. She said the show would be fun for couples and singles alike.

“It’s for sweethearts but it’s not necessarily lovey-dovey,” she said. “We’re trying to incorporate whatever people may feel about the holiday. Some of it is bitter and some of it is sweet. We want everyone to feel welcome, date or not.”

Ukoiya Mastin, another aerialist and co-founder, said that the show offers a unique twist on traditional Valentine’s Day festivities. She said the show offers a more personal experience, and can be a great alternative to the standard dinner-and-movie date night.

“You’re not just there to check out from reality, you’re there to experience and share a moment with the people around you,” Mastin said. “It’s not available every day either. You can’t see the performance anytime like you could see a movie in a theater.”

The show is one of many put on by the Bellingham Circus Guild throughout the year. The Guild also hosts a number of workshops for aspiring circus performers. Deacon, Mastin, Frohe and others founded the guild three years ago.

Mastin said that the members of the guild have close relationships with one another, and people must be recommended to the guild and voted in by other members before being allowed to join. Members are encouraged to attend weekly meetings and have access to practice space to perfect their craft.

Frohe said that before the Bellingham Circus Guild, it was difficult to find a place to practice that could accommodate aerial acrobatics.

“We were always scrambling looking for practice places in the winter, especially the aerialists,” Frohe said. “It’s been awesome for my growth as a performer to be able to have free range of a place like that.”

Frohe said that she enjoys working with her fellow performers, and that every guild member brings their unique talent and energy to guild productions.

“It’s taken a long time to get organized and to get to where we are now,” she said. “The people are what make the guild. I’m so lucky to know all these talented folks.”