FYI Vol. III, No. 4


A red-hot tip from our West Coast correspondent Judy Finelli

If you are near or in San Francisco for much of June, I highly recommend an engaging, multimedia circus called Tree of Smoke from Circus Automatic with some of the best and brightest circus artists around. This show is conceived and handmade by the artists themselves & will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through June 28 at 8 PM. Great Star Theater, 630 Jackson St. (Chinatown near Kearny), San Francisco. High level artistry, sobering message, quirky humor, touching, ingenuous and wise.”


Bello Takes Times Square

Bello recently spent eight hours on a high wire above Times Square, New York City.  The stunt, produced by Mandt Bros. Productions was seen on a live stream.  The stunt kicks off the “Summer of Bello” which will culminate on August 30, when Bello will up the ante in the most high-risk, multi-Part stunt ever devised.  He will attempt to perform fifteen death defying stunts–or die trying–in a live streaming digit event to take place in Las Vegas.  To find out more and to keep updated go to


Cirque du Soleil adjusting to recent financial problems


James Cameron is teaming up with Cirque du Soleil to create an arena show based on his film Avatar.  It is expected to open in late 2015, before the first of three film sequels hits movie theatres.  The Cirque’s live version will tour globally.  Cirque du Soleil had previously collaborated with Cameron on the 2012 film Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away,  a 3-D feature that featured acts from some of the company’s most popular live productions.

Speaking of Cirque du Soleil, its founder and “guide” Guy Laliberte recently admiited that the company had over reached, especially in its investment in Dubai.  As an example of either the company’s hubris or over optimism, it expected a growth spurt that never materialized, causing some financial difficulties that eventually resulted in 400 layoffs.  Speaking to a Canadian journalist Laliberte also admitted that some of the company’s shows that failed also added to the financial woes.  To make matters worse some of the more successful recent productions have been so costly that they are not earning the kinds of profit other shows have earned.  The falling profits were described as “a wake-up call” for management.  As a result the company has been restructured to give it a tighter control of production costs. (Although it certainly doesn’t show in its most recent new production Kurio reviewed elsewhere here.)  To reduce future financial risk Laliberte is now seeking outside investors in the way that Broadway shows are financed.


Circus and symphony orchestras continue their collaboration

This past May the Boston Pops orchestra combined with Cirque de la Symphonie to create an evening of circus and music in the hallowed Symphony Hall of Boston.   The circus artists performed in the area of the stage just in front of the orchestra.  Circus artists who contributed included harlequin juggler Vladimir Tsarkov and aerialist Aloysia Gavre.  A reporter for the Boston Globe noted that conductor Keith Lockhart was moved to turn away from his musicians at times to watch the circus acts.


Feld Entertainment wins $15.75 million settlement against animal rights advocates

The settlement brought to a close 14 years of litigation against the Humane Society of the United States and their co-defendants resulting from a lawsuit brought against Ringling Bros over the care of their Asian elephants, which the U.S. District Court ruled was “frivolous, vexatious, groundless and unreasonable from its inception.”  The current settlement brought the total costs recovered By Feld Entertainment to more than $25 million in legal fees and expenses.  Additional info on this settlement and the litigation can be found at


 New broom gets to work at Circus World Museum

To commemorate the 130th anniversary of Ringling Brothers Circus, Circus World recently opened its first major permanent exhibit since 1988.  Titled “Caught in the Act” the exhibit housed in the Irvin Feld Exhibit Hall features old circus posters, three circus wagons and floats, a collection of circus musical instruments, costumes and other unusual memorabilia from the museums voluminous archives.   Several sections of the exhibit are interactive including a side show booth where the occupant is transformed into a gorilla, a motorcycle in front of a video shot from inside the Globe of Death, and a high wire trapeze.  The question for the museum posed by its new executive director Scott O’Donell is “how do we remain relevant?”

Also new to the museum is a set of dioramas on display in the old Ringling railroad car shop, and in one of the animal barns there is an HO scale model of the 1947 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train on display.  The nine dioramas depict the history of the Ringling Brothers Circus,  and the train model consists of 108 railroad cars.