Passing Spectacle Vol. IX, No. 3

Sarasota 2020 Provides Two World Class Acts and Some Others

Nobody would deny that it is tough making a circus performance financially viable these days.  One solution, which seems to be the way Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs have gone with the current production of Circus Sarasota, is to put the bulk of their money on two world-class acts, Dima Shine and the Dandy Trio, and filling out the rest of the program either with familiar acts or younger and therefore less expensive acts. 

Before getting into a description of the acts we should point out a couple of the show’s familiar faces.  Joseph Bauer Jr. as the resplendent ringmaster is, as always, stylish and smooth.  

Renaldo (Al Calienes) as the clown is really more of a summer camp social director, whose main purpose is getting everyone in the audience involved.  First by getting them on their feet, and then leading them in clapping and hand gestures along with some simple dance moves like those associated with the song YMCA. His one major entrée is a somewhat truncated version of a familiar audience participation act involving the making of an old fashioned spaghetti western.

As for the major features, Dima Shine is someone I first saw as a young artist and the top winner of the Cirque Demain competition in Paris and again in New York in Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel.  It was clear even when he first appeared as the juggler Victor Kee’s protégé that he was a special talent and his work on a short Chinese pole or flag pole as he calls it, has gotten even more polished and is now flawless, setting him apart from all such equilibristic acts.

I previously saw the Trio Dandy in Monte Carlo, where they were winners of a silver clown.  There they gave a performance on the Russian Barre that was breathtaking technically and delightfully stylish.  Their repertoire there included a triple somersault with a half pirouette and a triple piked somersault with a half pirouette, a feature unmatched in this discipline.  Unfortunately the trio was unable to work the night I saw the show because of an injury to one of the  porters, a great disappointment, but having seen them in Monte Carlo I am familiar with their dazzling and charmingly nonchalant work.

The Alanian Riders is an act composed of three young women on horseback who appear to be just beginners in their chosen discipline, having mastered only the most elementary aspects of Cossack style riding. 

A juggling act called Get the Shoe never really got very interesting.  While the title of the act suggests something creative and comical, the two young men who work the act are, unfortunately, almost totally lacking in stage presence.  As a result their work comes across as nothing more than sloppy juggling mixed with martial arts

The Dominguez Poodles is a dog act like most dog acts; its one novelty is the breed of the canine troupe.  Otherwise there is nothing new here.  It is just what you might expect and as a result doesn’t disappoint.

The show included two aerial acts.  One was Duo 19, a cradle trapeze act presented by a young man and woman, dressed in rather drab costumes.  The other was Hannah Griffith on the solo trapeze.  Her act began with a lot of swinging prior to launching her tricks.  During that prelude it might help if she could to do something to break up the monotony and engage the audience, perhaps with some flirting.

Both of the last two acts were presented by technically advanced young artists who now need to find a way to connect with the audience.  Sex it up in the first case.  After all it is a couple, so what is their relationship?  Right now they seem more involved with concentrating on grabbing the right hand or ankle rather than suggesting any kind of relationship as a couple.  In the latter case the artist needs to make it more joyful.  Let us see the joy she is taking in swinging so high.