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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DALLAS SHRINE CIRCUS

Nina Carden, an aerialist with the Dallas Hella Shriners' 42nd annual circus, practices with her partner, Florin Moraru, on Wednesday in preparation for this week's shows.
Shriners' circus heads to Fair Park
Thursday, April 1, 2010
By EUNAKA KIRBY / The Dallas Morning News ekirby@dallasnews.com
Dallas Hella Shriners' 42nd annual circus, known as an interactive circus, will offer elephant or pony rides, face painting and the opportunity to meet performers, all on the circus floor.
Nina Carden, an aerialist with the Dallas Hella Shriners' 42nd annual circus, practices with her partner, Florin Moraru, on Wednesday in preparation for this week's shows. Shows are this week at the Fair Park Coliseum. The group performed last week in Frisco and drew just under 20,000 people.
The three-ring circus is the major fundraiser for the Garland-based Hella Shriners.
"It allows us to conduct our community service," said Jerry Garey, chief rabban of the Hella Shriners and circus chairman this year.
The Shriners in Dallas are best-known for their community service, involvement in local parades and support of the Shriners Hospital for children.
Each year, they give several thousand underprivileged children tickets to the show.
"We want to put a face on the Shriners of Dallas," Garey said.
Audrey Michelle Alvarado of El Paso is one of only a handful of female ring mistresses in the circus world.
Alvarado was raised in the circus. Her father was an acrobat and hand balancer. Alvarado laughed while speaking of her mother. "She kind of ran away to the circus."
Formerly an aerialist and animal worker, Alvarado left the circus for a while to pursue a nursing career.
She returned after marrying Israel Alvarado, a former acrobat who serves as property manager for the circus.
Alvarado home-schools her three children, who travel with the show but are not performers.
Alvarado started her stint as ring mistress with the circus four years ago. "I love guiding the people through the circus," she said.
She said she hopes people see beyond the glamour of the show and learn about the work required to make it all come together.
She still gets stage fright before most shows.
"Every building is different, every crowd is different ... every city," she said.
She said she thrives on the crowd reaction.
Twenty-two acts make up the show, including the Mighty Bo, who is said to be the largest performing elephant in the world. A bear rides a scooter, juggles balls and performs somersaults.
Siberian tigers, aerialists, trapeze artists, sheepdogs, clowns, swing performers, roaring motorcycles, jugglers, a BMX bicyclist and an extreme contortionist also are part of the show.

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