Ringling Bros. Is Built to Amaze But Could Use Some Work
I skipped the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus last year, but did have a chance to check out Fully Charged the year before. In the two years since then, there have been some improvements made in the latest tour, Built to Amaze, but not necessarily enough to justify a ticket to those hoping for a whole new experience.
Photo by Lynda Rouner
One thing that was definitely changed for the worse was the music. Circus music is usually made up heavily of tunes that are more or less knockoffs of pop songs, but whereas Fully Charged felt like it pulled from more timeless melodies like Abba's "Mamma Mia," Built to Amaze seemed to try over-hard to tap into modern, drill-team-ready pop songs. They even busted out "Gangnam Style," which at this point is a pop culture crime.
Music aside, it's a brighter show than in previous years, trading mystery for bald performance. These included some really inventive highlights.
The King Charles Troupe played a Harlem Globetrotters-esque game of basketball, except that the Globetrotters don't do the whole thing on freakin' unicycles. Have you ever seen someone dunk from a unicycle? I have, and it's way more amazing that anything I've ever seen on a conventional basketball court. Every minute of the well-choreographed exhibition was moment after moment of amazement and excitement. You literally can't stop smiling while watching it.
Jef With One F
Another unbeatable act was the tests of flexibility and strength put on by Duo Solys and Duo Fusion. I've never seen anything like it. Both acts are married couples that do hand-standing and other feats of strength while posed on their partners. What sets the two apart, though is that the women serve as the bases, not the men.
It's incredible to watch these women pull amazing feats like full backbends while a full-grown man performs a hand-stand on their bellies. I personally know a 90-pound girl who can dead lift 230 pounds, but even that was nothing compared to watching the core of might that was exhibited by the two duos. Even in the world of circus performance it was a unique sight to see.
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