Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Greatest Show on Girth

I can't remember the last time I went to the circus. Well, that isn't entirely true, since we've made several trips to the New Victory Theater in Manhattan, which frequently features international acts -- some of them small circuses.

(We once had a high wire walker come right past us while we sat in the balcony!)

What I'm talking about here is a good old-fashioned circus, three-rings and all. A circus with cotton candy and popcorn and $22 plastic toys that spin and light up for no reason. A circus with acrobats and elephants, tons of clowns and death-defying feats of amazing skill. (OK, we've also been to Cirque Du Soleil, but my husband makes fun of it.)

When Ringling Bros. invited us to check out their new act - Fully Charged we decided to go over to Newark's Prudential Center and see it. Our VIP passes gave us fantastic seats and special privileges, but even if we hadn't had all of that, I think it would have been a great time. The clowns alone were worth the price of admission. They weren't scary (although my daughter's friend who came along declined to shake their hands; he did however think it was funny when one of them sat on my lap)! The clowns were a delight. Pure, simple, silly magic - oh yeah, and they did also ride an enormous, over-sized ridiculous bike with out-size rubber tires that they could bounce off of.

But it wasn't the horses and miniature ponies, zebras, tigers or elephants that made my husband stop and sit up - no, that job went to Dimitriy Nadolinskiy and Ruslan Gilmulin, two "strong men" from Uzbekistan. The circus says they met when they were six year olds (the same age as my daughter and her friend). They each weigh more than 300 pounds and gobble up more than 7,000 calories a day. (And you thought your snack time was challenging!) Despite that, they lift each other into the air with ease -- turning and twirling huge utility poles (which have swings attached so four women in the show can hop on for a ride. Oh, and meanwhile, a clown rides on the top.) The circus says this astonishing maneuver is known as the Turning Towers of Power. The friends got the idea for this part of their act from watching Scottish Highland competitions where participants tossed tree trunks to demonstrate their enormous strength.

Later, as if that weren't enough, the pair came back out -- dressed in their Roman-style costumes, and took turns twirling each other - up and over, up and over, great, hulking, yet graceful acrobatic strongmen.

Only at the circus. It was a night none of us will soon forget.

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