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Thursday, May 30, 2013

CARSON & BARNES CIRCUS

Life under the big top is a family affair


LEAH MILLIS/Casper Star-Tribune
Performer Elena Stefanova, center, kisses her daughter Bryanna Bermudez, 6, goodbye for school as Angel Dotsenko, 9, stands by at the Carson & Barnes Circus on Tuesday. The event is at the Casper Events Center through Wednesday night. The family started the circus in 1937.

from:  billingsgazette.com
By LEAH TODD Casper Star-Tribune
May 29, 2013
CASPER, Wyo. — Elena Stefanova held her daughter's hand as they walked across a gravel parking lot to the one-room trailer marked "Schoolhouse."

Six-year-old Bryanna wore striped tights and a Disney Princess backpack. She hopped two feet at a time up a stepstool into the trailer, parked between the ticket tent and petting zoo Tuesday afternoon.

It was her first day of school at the circus.

Showtime was just hours away for Stefanova, 34, a Bulgarian gymnast who travels with the Carson & Barnes Circus. Later she would be in a pink leotard and a feather headdress, dancing in a ring with a half-dozen other showgirls. For now, she wore sweatpants.

In quiet Bulgarian, Stefanova asked Bryanna to recite the English alphabet inside the classroom. Bryanna did so flawlessly, and Stefanova beamed.

She waved once to her daughter. Bryanna waved back. Stefanova turned toward the Big Top and walked away.

It was time to go to work.
 
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LEAH MILLIS/Casper Star-Tribune
Yovanna Ponce, 20, waits in the staging area for the start of the show in full costume during their first performance of the evening at the Carson & Barnes Circus on Tuesday.

Stefanova isn't the only performer to have found a family in the Carson & Barnes Circus, which has stopped in Casper for two days of back-to-back shows.

Most of the hands have at least one relative in the crew, said Miguel Palestina, a 29-year-old coordinator for Carson & Barnes. The crew travels like a small city. A school, teacher, kitchen and cooks follow the crew from town to town. Some crew members sleep in bunkhouses pulled by semitrailer trucks.

Palestina knew from his childhood he wanted to run away with the circus. His father had temporarily left his family and corner store in Veracruz, Mexico, to join Carson & Barnes years before Miguel was old enough to join.

"When I was a kid I was wishing, you know, I want to go to the circus," Palestina said. "I want to be with my dad."

So when Miguel turned 18 and his father was offered a position with Carson & Barnes, Palestina didn't think twice. He joined the circus.

"Since then, I am here every year," Palestina said. He spends eight months on the road with Carson & Barnes, living out of an RV. He spends the rest of his year with family in Mexico.

"I like this life," he said.

Andres Huaman grew up as a performer in his father's circus in Peru. He started a hand-balancing act at age 8, has juggled for most of his life, and once performed regularly on the Olympic bars.

Huaman, 45, doesn't do those things anymore.

"Not with this," Huaman said, patting his belly. Today, he sets up the circus's miniature train ride and runs electricity for the Midway, outside the Big Top. His daughter and son both work in circuses.

Marcelino Lozano, 25, lives with his wife, Josie, and 5-year-old son, Maximiliano, on the road with Carson & Barnes.

"When you have a little time, you have to spend it with them," Lozano said. It was Maximiliano's birthday recently. Josie spent Tuesday afternoon scouting Casper for a place to take her youngest son and his circus friends to celebrate.

"They get to see a lot of things and do a lot of things that other kids don't get to do," Josie said. Her oldest two daughters are ushers at showtime, and her 8-year-old son, Giuliano, works at the petting zoo.
Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/life-under-the-big-top-is-a-family-affair/article_455cb920-ee53-5757-82bf-d0b037a489b6.html#ixzz2UkdgFXWu

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