Spectators can see animal acts at the “Super Circus Heroes,” which begins Friday in Gainesville.
By Tyler Francischine
January 3, 2014
The O'Connell Center transforms into the Big Tent, complete with aerialists, acrobats and animals galore, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey present their "Super Circus Heroes" show Friday through Jan. 12.
Ringmaster David Shipman said this show's theme is strength and power. Groups from 10 different countries, including Russia, China and Cuba, will perform great feats of strength, balance and concentration. One performer can land a quadruple back flip, while another balances himself midair on the tip of a sword placed at his bellybutton, he said.
"This is a show unlike any we've ever done before," Shipman said. "It's about superhuman abilities. Everyone has them. It's about finding the strength to pull them out of yourself."
Cathy Carden, the animal trainer and presenter for the show, said there will be plenty of tunes for the music lovers in the audience, as well.
"The music is awesome, and the dance numbers are so good," she said. "Our choreographer has worked with Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson."
This show takes on a smaller, one-ring format, which was created to reach venues without access to the railroad system.
The Ringling Bros. company is famous for transporting its largest performers, like elephants, on train cars. Still, this smaller format assures more face time between the performers and their audience.
An "All Access Pre-Show" held one hour before each show on the arena floor will offer audience members a chance to meet the performers.
"It's very intimate," Shipman said. "You see the sweat, you see the strain. You see that everything these performers do is real."
Carden, a seventh-generation animal trainer whose family has been in the circus business since the 1600s, said audiences will be treated to performances by 18 dogs, seven miniature horses, two Arabian horses, two Shetland ponies, two camels and three elephants, the last of which grew up alongside Carden at her parents' house.
Carden said her favorite moments training animals are those times when she sees the light bulb go on and they master their routines.