Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus at Meadowlands thru March 18
Johnathan Iverson really did run away with the circus
Among the spectacles are trapeze acts, ladies who hang from their hair, daredevils and stilt-walkers. / Associated Press ~
Written by Kelly-Jane Cotter, Staff Writer
Mar. 9, 2012
As ringmaster for “the greatest show on earth,” Johnathan Iverson tries to be a genial host.
“A ringmaster is a glorified fan who gets paid well to exude bombast,” he explains. “And he has every right to, because what he’s presenting is the height of human and animal artistry.’’
Iverson’s stage patter will center on lofty themes for “Dragons,” the production of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus currently on tour at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. The show evokes ancient myths and modern action movies alike, as daredevils, acrobats and clowns attempt to conjure a magical dragon through displays of wisdom, courage, strength and heart.
Iverson — whose previous entertainment credits include singing in the Boys Choir of Harlem — does more than introduce the acts, however. Trained as an opera singer, he uses his big, bold voice to sing the “Dragons” theme and to lead the Broadway-like interludes between acts. Singers and dancers in dazzling costumes fill the floor and then quickly disperse, leaving the next act in the spotlight.
Circus performers clown around in their costumes before the big show. / Associated Press
Among the acts is the Torres Family. Originally from Paraguay, these motorcyclists perform dizzying feats within a 16-foot steel sphere. Describing what they do does them a disservice, because it’s far more impressive in real life than in words. But, for starters, they cram eight motorcycles into that sphere and zip around and zig-zag in a way that seems to defy gravity.
The Kung Fu Kings and the Shaolin Troupe present martial arts from their native China. The Shaolin Troupe focuses on qigong, a martial art requiring strength, agility and concentration. They get hoisted into the air atop the points of five spears, among other feats.
“These guys are bad, man,” Iverson promised. “They are real, authentic kung fu masters. Every movie I’ve seen can’t compare to what these people can do with their bodies — jumping through fiery hoops, bending steel rods with their throats.”