When it comes to Circus Sarasota, artistic director Pedro Reis does as fine a balancing act as any of his performers in choosing the mix of talents that will please the public. He does it year after year, and the 2012 version, which runs through Feb. 26 under the Big Top across from Ed Smith Stadium, is no exception.
Award-winning daredevil clown Bello Nock, who lives in Sarasota, is the headliner of this year’s edition, which is titled Bello Mania, and he is indeed all over the show, starting with rolling himself out in a colorful cube from which that famous shock of hair slowly emerges and continuing with several comic acts throughout. He interacts frequently and happily with the audience, particularly when dragging two victims/volunteers out to assist (both a young boy and an attractive woman rose to the challenge on opening night, whether or not they had any forewarning of their roles).
And Bello also stars, with David Martin, in the huge wheel that rotates to the top of the tent with him doing amazing acrobatics inside or outside of it. But he’s not the only highlight of the show.
In fact, the performer who gained the most awed applause on opening night was hand balancer Encho Keryazov, from Bulgaria. Now, hand balancing is an act I always admire rather than really like; something about the tension of watching a superbly muscled human putting his entire weight on one arm and twirling slowly around usually makes me wince in sympathetic pain. But Keryazov really does do some things I’ve never seen a hand balancer do before, and manages to do it with elan despite the stress it must cause every fiber of his being. You can understand why many in the audience gave him a standing ovation.
While Keryazov is new to Circus Sarasota, some more familiar acts also deserve their applause, including Circus co-founder Dolly Jacobs, who never fails to impress with her aerial act with partner Yuri Rjkov; the Muttville Comix with trainer Johnny Peers, where more than a dozen dogs keep things constantly and hilariously moving; and Heidi Herriott, performing gracefully with her horse, Lady Dancer. Alesya Gulevich keeps seemingly dozens of colorful hula hoops spinning for a psychedelic show, and the Shandong Acrobatic Troupe, performers ranging in age from what seems very young to teen and above, entertains despite an occasional wobble in their pyramids.
For approximately two fast-moving hours, this production provides a lot of sheer circus fun. For tickets, call 355-9805 or go to circussarasota.org.
Photos by Ian Dean