My two seven-year-olds have been wanting to go to the circus for forever. We always seem to miss it when it comes to town. Well, last night we made it, and the kids were thrilled!
It was the Jordan World Circus, and it’s amazing. It was held inside our local ice arena. We walk in the door, and the three women taking tickets are dazzling in their costumes and makeup and they speak with a thick Russian Accent. My kids’ eyes widen, and my daughter says, “Do you speak Spanish?” “No, no,” the woman taking our tickets says.
We walk through the door into the arena area with its three rings, and instead of the usual dusty or wet nonsmell, there’s the fecund smell of animals and of cotton candy and nachos. We were right on time, but it looks like we’re early because all the performers and hands are focused and rushing here and there setting things up and taking things down. As it turns out, it’s this way throughout the performance. Everything is in transition, in a flurry of being torn down or being constructed off in the shadows to the side of the spotlight. We didn’t arrive early ~ we arrived in the midst. Everyone not in costume is wearing black, but not just black pants and t-shirt. No, the black they wear is a costume too and reminds me of old-world Europe with the flare of South America. Everyone also walks with purpose and pride ~ they know their jobs and do them well.
We buy some cotton candy and some popcorn and find our seats. The first act to come out are the tigers. They have something like eight tigers, three of them white tigers. They are pulled out by stage hands in a long train of cages, two animals per cage. A circular arena with pedestals has been erected, and the animals are let two by two into the arena. The tamer is the only one who comes in with them, though there is someone along the side to poke the reluctant white tiger with a long stick. The tigers do cool things like walk backwards twice across the ring, roll over in unison, and jump through a flaming hoop. They don’t seem dangerous, bored more than anything, except for a time or two where one or another seems irritated. As I sit there, I wonder two things: 1) How dangerous is it really? They look well-fed. 2) I’m sitting yards away from eight tigers. What if they decide they don’t wnat to take it any more? We’re nothing more than mice to them. (Ever seen a cat play with a mouse?)
Next was an amazing bicyclist doing tricks. He was gravity-defying and did a double flip and landed on his wheels. There were skate tricks and in-the-air hoop dancers and juggling and hula hoops and contortionist and a guy balancing on a chair. There were beautiful majestic elephants standing on each other’s backs and spinning in circles and a woman riding on one’s back and trunk. There were two hilarious father-and-son clowns who each tried to get the crowd on his side. From the website, I see the performers are from all over the world ~ Russia, Hungary, Columbia, Costa Rica, and the United States. The circus itself is out of Las Vegas.
I particularly loved the women. They were what women should be. They looked like superheroes. They were oh-so-strong and curvaceous and so physically brave and proud that you wanted to stand and cheer just looking at them.
I’ll give the circus this: they are masters of separating you from your cash. Which is the point, for them, after all ~ they have to make a living. It isn’t cheap to feed elephants and tigers, I’m sure. The community hands out free tickets for kids, but that’s how they suck you in. Adult tickets are $18, most food or drink is $5, the elephant or pony rides are $5, and it quickly adds up to a bundle. However, you don’t mind a bit, except when you run out of money and the kids are begging for more.
The kids loved it. They sat wide-eyed and kept saying, “That is amazing!” I was so happy to hear that. In this age of movie effects and unreal reality shows, we get desensitized to how dangerous these things really are, and how impossible they are. I really felt the danger. And the wonder, which is what a circus is all about, after all. My favorite was the elephants. Just standing there looking at them. Their eyes are wells of time ~ you can just lose yourself in them. One of them had this beautiful fuzz of black hair all over, and their bodies are miracles of Mother Nature’s engineering.
We’re looking to see when Barnum & Bailey comes to Denver.