The Passing Spectacle Vol. VIII, No. 3


Circus Sarasota Features Acts First Time in America

The name Circus Sarasota, suggests a certain parochialism, but this year’s production more than dispels any such suggestion of hometown heroism. The program features several American debuts, thus bringing world class circus acts to the increasingly savvy and sophisticated Sarasota audience.  This year’s show was  a very strong and varied program with several highlights, the most sensational of which was the Kolev Sisters, a hand to hand balancing act that easily and dazzlingly matched the work of any masculine purveyors of this skill.

The sisters, who hail from Italy work their way through a strenuous display of strength and balance, and they do so without so much as a hint of exertion or sweat. Not only beautiful physically, the two young women are the epitome of grace and agility. The act reminded me of a song from Annie Get Your Gun,  “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”

The Sons Company, an act consisting of two young men doesn’t look like any circus act you may have seen in recent years.  They work in casual clothes and sport odd hair style as they work off the  Korean plank, which is a version of a teeterboard in which two men, one of either side of the board, take turns catapulting each other high into the air where they execute a variety of flips and twists.  Unlike other such acts they use no spotters so their work is even more dangerous than usual.  They have also incorporated a variety of novel landings and recoveries into their routine, which adds even more interest to their already breathtaking  work.

Another first time in America comes in the form of Valerie Inertir’s presentation  on the Cyr wheel.  A talented dancer, her moves are always balletic, giving her performance an extra sense of grace and beauty. As the first female Cyr wheel soloist, she has had the advantage of being  trained by Daniel Cyr the creator of the Cyr wheel, adding greater depth and intricacy to her work

Cesar Dias is not the typical American clown. He wears no exaggerated makeup or costume, so he might more rightfully be called a physical comedian.   One of his bits, however, involves more sound effects (which he himself creates) than physical comedy.  In it he selects a partner from the audience who is asked to duplicate his pantomimed action as a gunslinger with imaginary pistols.  His best work, is an extended sketch in which he does a take-off on Frank Sinatra singing “My Way.”  His way, it turns out , is a complete disaster  as he becomes increasingly the victim of his microphone cable and other paraphernalia.

Victor Krachinox is a young and increasingly frantic juggler, who is impressively adept at timing his catches to his musical accompaniment.  Adding to the sense of frenzy is his head of longish, untamed hair, his rather ungainly movement (he is hardly ever still), and his numerous drops.

Augmenting these debuts are several internationally acclaimed performers such as Hans Klose  and his dogs.  This ensemble of canines is made up of a variety of breeds: white poodles, several terriers, and a Pekingese  who provides the comic relief from this hyper-active display of dogs who can hardly wait to show off what they can do.  The act concludes with a conga line that is quite a sight to see, given the variety of dogs involved.

Providing the necessary allotment of thrills are the Carrillos who leap about the high wire with abandon. Pedro is joined on the high wire by his new partner  Luis Acosta, as well as his wife Tatjana.  Adding little to the act is a swinging ball on which they hang and sail out over the wire.  Pedro also twice attempted a backward somersault to his feet but failed to complete the trick on the night I caught the show.

One act that has played just about every likely circus venue in the world is the Curatola Bros. They perform an amusing comedy acrobatic routine that includes a good bit of flirting with the audience.  Their acrobatic work  involves some clever and original lifts, making their rather short appearance fly by pleasantly.

And finally there are also some performers who are in fact hometown heroes. Ambra Andrine, Sylvia Zerbini’s daughter has inherited both her mother’s act and her stylish showmanship. She begins her act on the aerial lyra until she is eventually joined by six horses.  That is her cue to descend and put them through their well-schooled paces.  Once the horses have had their moment in the spotlight she returns to the air and performs a more intricate routine on the lyra.

Ambra’s father Joseph Bauer, Jr. in addition to serving as an especially resplendent ringmaster, concludes the performance by climbing aboard the wheel of destiny on which he gamely  tests the course of his destiny.  Although the heavy equipment involved in this kind of act inevitably places it at the end of the program, it does seem a bit anti -climactic after the Kolev sisters.  Both acts brought the audience to their feet, the sisters for their artistry, Bauer for his audaciousness, creating a jubilant mood that carried one happily home.



Cirque Ma’Ceo Puts The Emphasis Back on the Horse.

Cirque Ma’Ceo is an odd blend of daring equestrians and a mixed bag of acrobatic and aerial acts presented by young , developing artists and some older, more experienced pros, many of whom seem to have come and gone during the Sarasota engagement depending upon their availability.

Before the performance proper begins two of the young women in the company greet audience members as they arrive. They are mounted on very patient and amazingly calm horses who willingly submit to being patted and petted.  It was a nice way to introduce the audience to the low-keyed nature of the performance.

The core of the show was made up of two Italian families: the Zoppes and the Zamperlas.  The creators say they wanted to re-create the roots of gypsy circus.  Mainly the show has been designed to highlight various feats of equestrianism, and as it turns out, those acts that include equine participants are the most interesting and even on occasion the most beautiful of the program.  Most notable of these presentations was offered  by Olissio Zoppe, who is also the show’s director.  He worked in the ring with his stunningly handsome black Friesian star, even more beautiful than usual working as he did at liberty.

Other equestrians included Gino Zoppe in a display of bareback and Cossack style riding. Joining him for more Cossack style riding, the most exciting portion of the show, were Mercedes Pages and Ermes  Zamperla.  Eliza Puleo joined the troupe of riders aboard a pair of Percherons.

The clown Olexandr Kartukov killed some time with some audience participation, and provided some truly pleasant  diversion with a miniature horse with which he cavorted about entertainingly.

Several non-horse acts helped fill out the performance. These included  silks and hand balancing by Ekaterina Borzikova,  a  chandelier aerial with Eliza Puleo, who also does some posing on a horse,  straps by Maxim Panteleenko, hula hoops by Olena Deshko, and fire eating and twirling by Nouila Neetane.

The big, final trick attempted by Gino and Olissio Zoppe was something I have never seen attempted by anyone before. This included neither of the world’s top bareback riding troupes, the Richters  and the Gruss family, both of whom I have seen in performance several times.   The trick starts with Gino on Olissio’s shoulders standing on a bareback mount.  This horse is followed by a second riderless horse.  Once ready Gino attempts a back flip hoping to land upright on the trailing horse.  On his first attempt he bounced off the second horse and landed in a heap in the dirt of the ring.  Apparently not too badly injured he rose to his feet and  attempted the trick again…and again, coming no closer to completing it than he had on the first try and succeeding only in horrifying the audience.

I don’t understand why anyone in any art or artistic discipline would put before an audience a trick or action he must have known he has not mastered and is not ready to be shown to the public. While audiences always hope for unexpected  thrills, I don’t think they want to be witness to a disaster of any kind.

I’m not sure where the Cavallo Equestrian Arts, the organization that staged this show at Kay Rosaire’s Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota, Florida, hopes to take this show, but it needs more polishing and greater confidence to go any further.