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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Every circus performance is personal for Feld sisters


The fearless Fernandez Brothers defy gravity on the Twin Turbines of Steel, one of several acts expected to amaze the crowds coming to see the "Fully Charged" show.

By JOAN TUPPONCE April 17, 2011

Richmond, VA-- The minute Nicole and Alana Feld saw strongmen Dmitriy Nadolinskiy and Ruslan Gilmulin from Uzbekistan, they knew the act would be a hit with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey audiences. "We found them performing in a circus-style show in the Ukraine," said Alana Feld, executive vice president and producer of the circus. "They were sort of like celebrities in Russia." In Ringling's "Fully Charged" show coming to Richmond on Wednesday, the men, who each top 300 pounds, not only lift each other, but also twirl two telephone poles weighing up to a half-ton above their heads while acrobats balance atop. "Their act is so simple," Alana Feld said. "There is no technology. It's just unreal what they do." The Feld sisters have made history in the American circus world. Nicole Feld became the first woman to produce "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 2002. In 2009, the duo made it to the history books again as the first sisters to co-produce the circus. They took the reins from their father, Kenneth Feld, who followed in the footsteps of his father, Irvin Feld.

Alana Feld, left, and sister Nicole have made history in the American circus world as co-producers of "The Greatest Show on Earth." The sisters hope the acts in the "Fully Charged" show grab children's attention. The circus was a large part of Nicole's and Alana's childhood. "It was more of a lifestyle for us," Nicole Feld said. Both women worked in other companies before joining their father at Ringling. "You start to realize how much you miss it," Alana Feld said. "You start thinking about what you want to do with your life and how you want to make an impact. I remembered how much fun I had as a child being part of the circus and I wanted to create that experience for other families." The sisters travel the world searching for new talent. Sometimes, however, they find something special closer to home, such as Brian Miser, known as The Human Fuse. Miser, who has been on five Ringling tours, is shot from a self-made crossbow. He is aflame as he soars across the arena at about 65 mph. "Brian is from Peru, Indiana, which is actually a circus town," Nicole Feld said. "He is constantly coming up with new ideas. He made his act all the more thrilling this year by adding fire." This year's "Fully Charged" show celebrates performance power. In addition to the strongmen and The Human Fuse, other acts include Tabayara "Taba" Maluenda, who rides rearing stallions at a full gallop and works with 12 tigers, and the Fernandez Brothers, Guillermo and Alberto, whose feats of athleticism include a 360-degree flying-forward somersault on the moving Twin Turbines of Steel. The Feld sisters hope these types of acts will grab the attention of children, especially those who have a difficult time putting away their Nintendos and iPods. "I sat and watched a kid watch the show through an iPhone," Nicole Feld said. "That is how kids get their information today. That is the world we live in. It's harder to find acts that truly amaze people." Each edition of the circus is personal for the sisters. "We pour so much of ourselves into every production," Alana Feld said. "We care so much about the people we work with. Neither one of us has ever doubted our decision [to work in the family business]. We can't imagine doing anything else."

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