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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Circus Sarasota creates an exciting thrill ride
The Jose Michel Clowns perform / STAFF PHOTO
By Jay Handelman
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Saturday, February 5, 2011
The 2011 edition of Circus Sarasota is like an amusement park thrill ride.
It revs you up, reaches dizzying speeds, slows to allow for a laugh or too before powering up for a big finish.
It's inspiring to think of how many new and interesting variations on traditional circus acts these performers come up with.
The show is presided over by the genial and strong-voiced ringmaster Joseph Dominic Bauer Jr., who closes the evening with dramatic impact on the spinning wheel of death. He runs around on the tall, gyrating ring while juggling flaming pins, jumping rope and then doing one loop blindfolded.
You can see impressive strength from the Azzario Sisters, a surprisingly graceful hand-balancing act, and the human pyramids formed by the acrobatic Moroccan Connection.
Picaso, Jr., carrying on an act created by his father, does some magical things by juggling ping pong balls with his mouth, and then sending plastic plates soaring around the arena like boomerangs.
Tightrope walker Erik Niemen demonstrates determination (and skill) as he dances, skips and jumps his way down a thin wire. He surprised himself by missing a jump over a flag, landing on the floor, but he got right back up and jumped even higher on his second succesful attempt.
There is some excitement created by the Alanian Riders, who jump, flip and ride standing on galloping horses, and it's always a pleasure to watch the graceful aerial ballet of Dolly Jacobs.
The Fornasari Family offers a cute but repetitive dog act, and the Jose Michel Clowns (with Sarasota's Chucko) perform a chaotic water act that doesn't go far beyond an initial touch of whimsy.
This year's quick-change costume act, Krisztina and Szebasztian, are impressive, especially in their glittery finale, but they change more slowly than past performers, which dilutes the excitement.

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