Friday, May 11, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth


Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus
The XL Center

It seems to be becoming tradition that when that circus train rolls into Hartford, my good friend Sue packs up her boys, picks me up and we head to the XL Center for an evening of big animals, high flying acrobats, cotton candy and this year… fire breathing dragons!
For the first time, we all got their early and headed down to the lower level to see the animals up close before the show started.  Lions rolling on their backs in hay, horsed saddled for show, elephants only seven feet away – it is a great part of the experience.  Then it is back up to find our seats then down to the floor of the arena to watch an elephant paint a picture and dance with the performers, there was even a huge bouncy house.  As I am not much the fan of crowds so I watched from above as hundreds of families watched horses perform and visit with clowns.  The birds-eye view is a great place to be.

The show unfolds with our National Anthem sung while a stunning woman waves a US flag riding an elephant.  Then it’s full steam ahead with clowns, motorcycles, dancers, aerialists and a booming Ring Master (a CT native to boot!)  While the trainer was showcasing the awesome personalities of the lions and tigers, one had a bit of sass and attitude and threatened him.  He assured the audience it was part of the act, I was not so convinced of that.  Motorcycles on a highwire, and ladies suspended from the ceiling in plastic orbs filled the upper tiers while men with swords bend steel.  What circus would be complete without someone diving through fire (blindfold… and lined with swords!)  All of that before intermission.

Attendants bring around cotton candy, programs, snow cones and lemonade – all over priced but in some kind of cool souvenir container.   Lots of loud music designed to get you up and moving starts the second act that leads to high flying aerials, men flipping through the air while wearing stilts and a huge crowd favorite, motorcycles in a small cage driving fast and upside down.  This year they had 8 cyclists.  (Sue’s son informed me that it was one more than they had last year!)

The theme of this year’s circus was “The year of the Dragon” and the dragons did not disappoint.  From smaller wheeled ones brought through the hall, to lighting effects (gobos for your techie types), a reminder that with Wisdom, Courage, Strength and Heart – the real dragon would show itself, and that it did, a huge green fire breathing dragon ended the show.  One of my favorite aspects of this show is the live music that is played, right there in the area for each and every act.  A full package deal.

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