The Moscow International Circus came in for a weekend, bringing its high-flying, huge-energy, heart-pounding acts to Honolulu audiences. I had the honor of being a guest ringmaster at one of the performances!
Me as guest ringmaster!
I showed up an hour early to make sure I was in place and knew where and when to walk. I had a little script that I memorized, including the exact wording of the all-important roll cue "on with the show," so that the director knew when to dim the lights.
I was allowed to mingle backstage with the glamorous performers, which was definitely a highlight. I sat in the ladies' dressing room for half an hour learning a little more about their backgrounds and their passions for the circus.
Olessya from Kazkstan, Olena from Ukraine, Ana from Brazil.
Ana, who hangs by her hair, among other acts.
There's Ana from Brazil, who hangs by her hair and swings around in the air. "It is very painful. You learn to tolerate it but never get used to it," she revealed.
Ana, flying in the air!
There's Olena, the hula hoop master from Ukraine.
The gorgeous Mongolian Angels trapeze duo Oyungerel Davaatseren and Davaasuken Altantsetseg
They were Olivia's favorite act!
There's the Mongolian Angels, a trapeze duo who started touring with the circus at age 14. They train and workout a few hours every day.
Oyungerel relaxing before the show
I was amazed to learn many of the performers are born into the business and are family acts, but those that aren't often start training very young (pre-puberty) and are ready to tour by their early teens. Such a thing exists as circus college, where one can learn balance, gymnastics, acrobatics, high wire, trapeze, gymnastics, and other skills for this industry.
Susanna Seafire, from Maui.
Me with two Hawaii residents!
Many of them have been doing this work for a couple of decades.
The Amazing Raymond, another local.
They tour for about 10 months a year so they become each other's ohana. "I love these people. I don't have a wife and children and these people are everything to me," affirmed Cornell "Tuffy" Nicholas, the show producer, a lifer in the biz.
The youngest performer is age four. She has so much stage presence and charisma! As a mother, I fully realize now that one is either born with it or not. This little girl just went out and wowed the crowd.
I appreciate the joy and laughter these hard-working folks bring to audiences around the world, and a tiny part of me was tempted to want to run away and join the circus too, because it looks like fun. However, I could not imagine touring for 90 percent of the year.
Some of these people have children at home waiting for them. That part would break my heart. This is certainly not a job, but a lifestyle.
My walk from backstage to the ring.
When it was time to open the show, I donned a sequined jacket and walked down a long carpet into the ring as announcer Al Waterson introduced me. My job was to get the audience excited. I had a very short script that presented the show and the real ringmasters. It was brief but so much fun!
The show itself was amazing. To be clear, no animals were in the show. This circus is more like the Cirque acts in Las Vegas, than the flaming-hoop-jumping-tiger deals of yesteryear.
For most of the two hours, I literally had my mouth agape with wonder, fear, or a little bit of both, as the acrobats executed the most precise and incredible acts. Sometimes it was, *gasp* Is he going to fall? Is she going to catch her trapeze partner? Sometimes it was, How does she do that?!
My daughter loved the clown acts interspersed in the show. At seven years of age, her sense of silly is at its ripest.
There was also a high-stakes balancing act, an illusionist, a contortionist, jugglers, and much more.
My daughter was thrilled to attend. Before we went, she was expecting the traditional circus that her storybooks illustrate - you know, Dumbo and the like. After we left, she exclaimed, "I loved it! Can we go back?"
I'm dreaming of the circus...
The circus has packed up and left for now, but the next time it's in town, I know where we're going!