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World famous circus acts perform astonishing aerial feats
Heart-stopping suspense is the only way to describe the sensation of watching performers from the famous Wallenda high-wire act cross a two-inch thick wire in a human pyramid, fifty feet above you in the big top of a circus tent – without a safety net!
These and other sensational traditional circus performances are guaranteed to thrill on the Royal Canadian Circus' current Alberta tour, Spectac!. The troupe is appearing in Calgary until 18th May, moving on to Medicine Hat for one day only, 20th May, and then on to Lethbridge from 22nd to 24th May.
The Wallenda family, originally from Germany, have been circus performers for more than a century, and are renowned for shirking any form of safety device. One of their notable achievements took place in 2012 when Nik Wallenda became the first aerialist to walk directly over Niagara Falls. Thankfully on that occasion the news station filming his crossing insisted he wear a safety harness.
Another long-established circus family, the Flying Cortez trapeze act, who came to the USA from Colombia in the 1970s, caused gasps from the audience when one of them tumbled into the safety net below,having mistimed a swing. A triple somersault, heralded by a drum roll, of course, was perfectly executed moments later.
One of the other stand-out acts for me were the Real Steel Riders, stunt motorcycle riders who loop round each other vertically and horizontally in a steel mesh globe only 12ft to 15ft in diameter. First one rider entered the sphere, then two, then three riders spun round each other and finally a sequined-clad member of the team stood in the middle with motorcyclists spinning round her. To add to the drama, flames are lit around the perimeter of the globe.
The Real Steel Riders at the Royal Canadian Circus
There are some animal acts in the show and I was not comfortable seeing elephants perform, even though animal trainer Erika Zerbini's family, another old established circus family, were instrumental in setting up in the 1980s an elephant boarding ranch in Florida to promote the proper care and management of elephants in captivity.
The horses were beautifully groomed and spectacular to watch as Ms Zerbini put them through their paces trotting round the circus ring, changing direction and turning in circles at her command. They included a very large piebald Clydesdale and a 'matching' miniature pony which galloped under the belly of the larger horse, and six Arabian horses whose synchronised movements were a delight to behold.
No circus would be complete without clowns and the Royal Canadian Circus did not disappoint. The Argentinian-based Videla clowns Piolita and sons Corinthian and Sebastian tumbled, fooled around, and generally made everyone chuckle their way through the down times between the major acts.
The Flying Cortez performing at the Royal Canadian Circus
Pulling the evening's performance together was Ringmaster Richard Curtis, in his sparkly trousers, top hat and tails.
The usual refreshments were available before, during and after the show, including delicious and very light mini doughnuts and coffee, candy floss, and popcorn, as well as all manner of souvenirs.
The price per ticket is CN$30, rising to CN$40 for a VIP seat near the front and CN$50 for ringside seats. Watch out for two for one vouchers in the local newspapers and remember to wrap up warm – the inside of a big top can get very chilly!