2014 Convention



Saturday, December 8, 2012


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scenes of the circus

single trapeze
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The worlds only unsupported ladder Trio

Stilts from Charlie Stron 2012

Published on Mar 4, 2012
by charles strachan
I have many costumes and do a lot of meet and greet while on the stilts. Sometimes I make balloon creations and juggle too.

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This farm owner was denied a council permit to build a horse shelter - fortunately you do not need a permit to build a table and chairs ;)
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away TV SPOT - Unforgettable Journey (2012) HD

The St. Louis Symphony Joins The Circus

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Nino the Clown in the Powell Hall Lobby
St. Louis Symphony
By Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer
December 7, 2012
Each Spring, Circus Flora sets up its “big top” in the parking lot of Powell Hall.  Over the years, the Flying Wallendas, Nino the Clown, and the St. Louis Arches have become familiar to many St. Louisans. 

For the second time, Circus Flora will move inside the hall to join the St. Louis Symphony in a holiday production which will bring to life Dylan Thomas’ classic, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”

The symphony will perform a variety of Christmas favorites as well as several works by British composers. A Circus Flora member will provide narration with excerpts of the story, while the Flying Wallendas, a group of trained housecats and other circus acts entertain.

Circus Flora Founder and Artistic Director Ivor David Balding and St. Louis Symphony cellist Bjorn Ranheim were host Steve Potter’s guests to discuss the partnership, Dylan Thomas, the circus acts and the music.
Related Event
 Circus Flora and the St. Louis Symphony Present "A Child's Christmas in Wales"
December 14 and 15, 2012
7:00 p.m.
December 16, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd.
Starlords flying trapeze 1980 Circus Holiday Holland

Uploaded on Jan 30, 2011
by .charles strachan
I was the middle catcher in this act. Wow, what a great time in my life.
Holiday Circus brings back memories, creates new ones
Jim Hallmark, 67, remembered setting up tents for circuses that traveled across the country back in the 1960s.

Jonathan Pantido, a performer in the Santa Claus Holiday Circus, balances on what he calls the rola bola.
By John Hacker
Dec. 7, 2012
Jim Hallmark, 67, remembered setting up tents for circuses that traveled across the country back in the 1960s.
Emma Nicholas, 10, said she will remember the puppies jumping through hoops.
Watching the performers from Santa Claus Holiday Circus Wednesday at the Carthage Junior High Gymnasium brought back old memories for some and created new ones for other in the crowd of more than 150 people.
Hallmark said watching the show brought back a flood of memories.
“It takes you back to the past,” Hallmark said. “The guy balancing on the platforms and the other performers really took me back. It shows the kinds of talents people have and it gets kids away from their electronic games.”
Emma Nicholas said she’s been to circuses before, and this was a pretty good one.
“It was awesome,” Emma said. “I liked the dancers and the puppies. The best thing was the puppies and how they danced through hoops.”
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Trained poodles were part of the act at Wednesday's Santa Claus Holiday Circus, held at the Carthage Junior High Gymnasium. John Hacker / Carthage Press
The Hugo, Okla.,-based Santa Claus Holiday Circus was a shortened version of the big circuses that still travel the country in the summer, cut down to fit in indoor venues.
Mell Silverlake, the ringmaster for the circus, said the performers with his circus perform with other larger circuses during the summer.
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Review: Cirque du Soliel's 'Quidam' puzzles, intrigues, entertains
By  Margaret Quamme
For The Columbus Dispatch
Friday December 7, 2012
The Cirque du Soleil combination of breathtaking acrobatics and puzzling story line works best when it’s grounded in recognizable human dynamics. The quiet, often dark, and moving Quidam, on stage now at Nationwide Arena, is rooted in a most basic situation: a child dealing with a distant mother and father, and trying to make her way in a confusing, frightening, and sometimes spectacularly beautiful world.

As the wordless young girl, Alessandra Gonzalez moves through a series of fantastic scenes with curiosity tempered by fear.

Many of the spectacles she observes echo and enhance the world of childhood play. In one, dozens of performers skip rope in groups, often with several ropes going at the same time. In another, Emmaline Piatt multiplies the exhilaration of flying through the air on a swing, soaring and turning high above the stage on a rope swing.

Friday, December 7, 2012

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PETA vs Bikers...... Spoiler...PETA loses.

Published on Dec 4, 2012
Johnstown, PA (GlossyNews) -- Local and state police scoured the hills outside rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after reports of three animal rights activists going missing after attempting to protest the wearing of leather at a large motorcycle gang rally this weekend. Two others, previously reported missing, were discovered by fast food workers "duct taped inside several fast food restaurant dumpsters," according to police officials.

"Something just went wrong," said a still visibly shaken organizer of the protest. "Something just went horribly, horribly wrong."

The organizer said a group of concerned animal rights activist groups, "growing tired of throwing fake blood and shouting profanities at older women wearing leather or fur coats," decided to protest the annual motorcycle club event "in a hope to show them our outrage at their wanton use of leather in their clothing and motor bike seats." "In fact," said the organizer, "motorcycle gangs are one of the biggest abusers of wearing leather, and we decided it was high time that we let them know that we disagree with them using it...ergo, they should stop."

According to witnesses, protesters arrived at the event in a vintage 1960′s era Volkswagen van and began to pelt the gang members with balloons filled with red colored water, simulating blood, and shouting "you're murderers" to passers by. This, evidently, is when the brouhaha began.

"They peed on me!!!" charged one activist. "They grabbed me, said I looked like I was French, started calling me 'La Trene', and duct taped me to a tree so they could pee on me all day!"

"I...I was trying to show my outrage at a man with a heavy leather jacket, and he...he didn't even care. I called him a murderer, and all he said was, 'You can't prove that.' Next thing I know he forced me to ride on the back of his motorcycle all day, and would not let me off, because his girl friend was out of town and I was almost a woman."

Still others claimed they were forced to eat hamburgers and hot dogs under duress. Those who resisted were allegedly held down while several bikers "farted on their heads."

Police officials declined comments on any leads or arrests due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, however, organizers for the motorcycle club rally expressed "surprise" at the allegations.

"That's preposterous," said one high-ranking member of the biker organizing committee. "We were having a party, and these people showed up and were very rude to us. They threw things at us, called us names, and tried to ruin the entire event. So, what did we do? We invited them to the party! What could be more friendly than that? You know, just because we are all members of motorcycle clubs does not mean we do not care about inclusiveness. Personally, I think it shows a lack of character for them to be saying such nasty things about us after we bent over backwards to make them feel welcome."

When confronted with the allegations of force-feeding the activists meat, using them as ad hoc latrines, leaving them incapacitated in fast food restaurant dumpsters, and 'farting on their heads,' the organizer declined to comment in detail. "That's just our secret handshake," assured the organizer.


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Review: Cirque du Soliel's 'Quidam' puzzles, intrigues, entertains
By  Margaret Quamme
For The Columbus Dispatch
Friday December 7, 2012
The Cirque du Soleil combination of breathtaking acrobatics and puzzling story line works best when it’s grounded in recognizable human dynamics. The quiet, often dark, and moving Quidam, on stage now at Nationwide Arena, is rooted in a most basic situation: a child dealing with a distant mother and father, and trying to make her way in a confusing, frightening, and sometimes spectacularly beautiful world.

As the wordless young girl, Alessandra Gonzalez moves through a series of fantastic scenes with curiosity tempered by fear.

Many of the spectacles she observes echo and enhance the world of childhood play. In one, dozens of performers skip rope in groups, often with several ropes going at the same time. In another, Emmaline Piatt multiplies the exhilaration of flying through the air on a swing, soaring and turning high above the stage on a rope swing.

Yesterday’s Tomorrows, Full of Rosy Visions
World’s Fairs of 1930s Showed Boundless Vision of Prosperity

Albert Kahn Family of Companies
 The General Motors pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. Corporations and governments joined in self-promotional alliances at these kinds of spectacles.

Published: December 6, 2012
We are not terribly interested in the future these days. We are preoccupied with repairs, restorations, reparations, reformations — attempts to redo or reconceive the past. That is where we look for blame and where we look for promise. The future? Well, who is to say that it will not be more of the same until the past is fixed? Progress is a word best used in scare quotes.
Take a look at the new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, “Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s.” It surveys six World’s Fairs, in Chicago (1933-4), San Diego (1935-6), Dallas (1936), Cleveland (1936-7), San Francisco (1939-40) and New York (1939-40). They were seen by tens of millions of Americans. They offered visions of unalloyed progress, lives of increased ease, an exhilarating future. There would be robotic companions like Elektro (who could walk, talk and smoke a cigarette); there would be soaring spires and sleek cable cars; there would be new materials and new possibilities. And all this was being promised during the Depression’s worst years, on the eve of the century’s most traumatic global war.
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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2012 -
Santa's Sleigh Rollercoaster

Published on Nov 23, 2012
Winter Wonderland 2012 in Hyde Park - The brilliant kiddie coaster / childrens ride, Santa's Sleigh rollercoaster

Classic Car Collection motoring into future

Mary Jane Skala, Kearney Hub
THIS TINY SPECK of a car was used by clowns in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. Ten to 12 clowns would crawl out of it after it drove into the center ring. The collection, one year old Nov. 25, has had 13,000 visitors.

By MARY JANE SKALA Hub Staff Writer
December 6, 2012
KEARNEY — J.L. Schmidt loves to tell stories about the 160 historic vehicles in the Classic Car Collection at 3600 E. Highway 30.
“It’s the stories that make this museum,” he said.
There’s a tiny 1932 Austin American, almost no bigger than a clown’s red nose, that hauled a dozen clowns to the center ring in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
There’s a red 1974 Cadillac that was customized for the late Evel Knievel, a 1954 Kaiser Darrin with sliding fiberglass doors and a Studebaker Big Six sedan with heating vents on the floor.
Every car has a story, and Schmidt, the collection director, never tires of telling them. The collection, one year old on Nov. 25, drew 13,000 visitors in its first year.
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‘Amazing Kreskin’ offers to fix ‘fiscal cliff’

(Evan Agostini/ASSOCIATED PRESS) -
Mentalist George Kresge, Jr., a.k.a. “The Amazing Kreskin” is shown in this 2009 file photo. Kreskin was a fixture on The Johnny Carson Show in the 1970s.
By Lori Montgomery,

Dec 07, 2012
Finally, a light at the end of the ‘fiscal-cliff’ tunnel: The Amazing Kreskin is here to help.
Kreskin, billed by his publicist as the world’s most renowned mentalist, was a fixture on The Johnny Carson Show in the 1970s. Now 77, he says he can break the stalemate over taxes and spending that has gripped Washington for much of the past two years.

All it would take is an hour in a room with President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), or their proxies.
“If I can, through mental suggestion and mental conditioning, bring both to a state of mind where I’ve lifted all the pressure, all the threats, all the money being offered and all the fears of the next election, I can bring them together to their unconscious level and they will start to think in terms of compromising,” Kreskin said in an interview.
Kreskin made the offer via press release Thursday to fly to Washington and help with the cliff after observing what he described as a mounting crisis in government.
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Published on Nov 25, 2012

Batman returns in an arena show

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Water Lane Productions
Arkham Asylum is the setting for a scene from Batman Live: World Arena Tour.
By Mark Lowry
Special to the Star-Telegram
Dec. 06, 2012
Superman and Spider-Man have transcended comics, television and film to add another entertainment format to their ranks: musical theater.
In Superman's case, it was an ill-fated musical, It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman!, by Charles Strouse that was a flop on Broadway in the late '60s and was revised in 2009 at Dallas Theater Center.
For Spidey, it was an expensive Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with music by U2. It suffered headline-making mishaps in previews, before it officially opened last year.
You can now add Batman to that list, although in this case, it's decidedly not a musical, but rather a theatrical spectacle designed for stadiums with an original score.
"I think what [DC Comics] liked about my pitch was that it wasn't a musical," says Nick Grace, the executive producer of Batman Live: World Arena Tour, which began in the U.K. in 2011 and began touring the U.S. this summer.
It makes a stop in Dallas beginning Thursday, with six performances at American Airlines Center. (A Wednesday performance has been canceled.)
"I couldn't see Batman singing; that didn't even occur to me," he says.
"Also, we didn't want to set it up in one theater. We wanted to put it in a big space and tour it around the world so that Batman would come to your city. They liked that idea."
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Zippos Circus Gold 2012 in 8 minutes

Published on Aug 26, 2012

Aurora abuzz Saturday with activities
December 8 promises to be a busy day in Aurora with a parade, Santa Claus and a circus.
Dec. 7, 2012
Aurora, MO---
December 8 promises to be a busy day in Aurora with a parade, Santa Claus and a circus.
Photos with Santa will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., when Santa must leave to ride in the parade. He and the camera will be located on the third floor of city hall. The photo is available for a donation to Main Street Aurora.
There will also be ornament and cookie decorating and a drawing for a girl’s and boy’s bike.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. The participants will line up at the corner Roosevelt Avenue and Pleasant Street. The parade will proceed east on Pleasant Street, turn north on Madison Avenue, turn west on Olive Street, turn south on Washington Avenue and turn west on Locust. It will disband near the old armory.
The circus offers two performances -- 3:30 and 7 p.m. -- in the gymnasium at Aurora Junior High School, 500 West Olive.
Advance tickets are $6 (for children two to 12 years of age) and $8. Tickets at the door are $8 (for children) and $12. Military people and seniors are $10 each.
Advance tickets are available at Regions Bank, Community National Bank, Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce and The Aurora Advertiser.
The Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring both the parade and the circus.

Shaping Columbus: Sells Brothers Circus

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Courtesy Ohio Historical Society
The Sells brothers founded a circus that eventually was sold to James Bailey. The show morphed into Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.
from: Business First,
December 7, 2012
An elephant traipsing through a Columbus backyard today would generate endless news coverage, but there was a time when a venture by four brothers made the possibility of that occurring much more likely.

Ephriam, Lewis, Peter and Allen Sells owned and operated what would become the second-largest traveling circus in the country. The Sells Brothers Circus was founded in 1872 and for more than 30 years performed before huge crowds. Their circus was groundbreaking in some respects and in its final days it became part of an American institution.

When the troupe was not touring, they established a winter circus home where Lennox Town Center and its menagerie of retail shops on Olentangy River Road near Ohio State University sits. Sellsville was a self-contained community housing the animals and performers plus their families. Remnants of those days can be viewed in some of the street names such as Sells Drive or Chambers Road, named for the founders and Bill Chambers, a World War I hero and son of one of the elephant trainers.

The brothers were born between 1836 and 1845 in this order: Allen, Lewis, Ephriam and Peter. Their story begins in the late 1700s when great-grandfather, Ludwig Sells, and great-uncles arrived in the Dublin area and ended up owning significant amounts of land.
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Thursday, December 6, 2012


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Ringling Bros Presents BUILT TO AMAZE! -
Winter Quarters: An Inside Look At Choreography!

Published on Dec 5, 2012
Get An Inside Look at the choreography of Ringling Bros presents Built To Amaze! Coming soon! Go to!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents the 143rd exhilarating edition of the Greatest Show On Earth. Surprise and wonder build such incredible anticipation it could only be Built To Amaze!℠

Elephants, tigers, acrobats and aerialists join together from across the globe, each a spectacular piece of the puzzle, forming one exquisite design of magnificence and precision. From the blueprints to the band, from the crates to the clowns, from the hammer to the high wire comes one breathtaking performance of non-stop thrills so astonishing you have to see it to believe it.

Join us as we measure out the perfect mix of marvel and majesty in an imagination equation where the impossible comes to life. Be a part of the brand-new spectacles from around the world immersed in the circus tradition you have come to know and love. Experience it live and feel the amazement! Children Of All Ages will be inspired for years to come at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!
The world's tallest woman, Yao Defen, dies (VIDEO)
Allison Jackson | |
Dec 05, 2012

The world’s tallest woman has died, the Associated Press reported.

Yao Defen, certified in January 2010 by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest living woman at 7 feet and 7 inches, died at her home in China’s eastern province of Anhui on November 13.

The AP said Yao was 39, while other reports put her age at 40.

The Daily Mail reported Yao developed gigantism due to a tumor on her pituitary gland and by the age of 15 stood at more than 6 feet 6 inches.

The tumor was removed in 2006 and Yao stopped growing, but it returned the following year and her family could not afford another operation, the newspaper said.

Given her height, it was hoped that Yao would have a career as a basketball player but the strain of carrying her massive frame was too much for her heart and lungs, the Shanghaiist reported.

For a period of time she worked in a circus freak show.

The AP said Yao’s height caused her great anguish.

“I am very unhappy. Why am I this tall?" she said in a Chinese language video three years ago.

"If I were not this tall, others would not look at me like this."

Editorial: A big gray area -- L.A. City Council can protect circus animals without banning elephants
Los Angeles News
December 6, 2012
The goings-on at Los Angeles City Hall often resemble a three-ring circus, but that doesn't mean the City Council should get too involved with the real thing. A proposed ban on circus elephants -- and, effectively, a ban on circuses with animals -- in the city is going too far.
The public should be allowed to decide whether to allow circuses with performing animals to set up in city limits by voting with its feet. That's not to say the city can't regulate abuse of animals under the big top. The council can send a clear message that animal cruelty is not acceptable by making it illegal for circus trainers to prod pachyderms with metal-tipped bullhooks.
The barbaric act of using bullhooks to control elephants is already barred at the Los Angeles Zoo, so it only makes sense to broaden the law and apply it to circuses traveling into a city renowned for entertainment.
Banning bullhooks is one of the options that Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz is proposing in a draft ordinance. The other is a broad prohibition on the use of elephants in travling shows and exhibitions. This well-intentioned ordinance, which will soon come up for review by council, is aimed at preventing abuse of circus elephants and other exotic animals.
Banning circus elephants from performing in Los Angeles would likely lead to the -- perhaps intentional -- removal of all circus animals from the city. While some people believe circuses are distasteful in concept, that they are
archaic and not nearly as spectacular as they once were, the shows continue to draw audiences. Thus the public should be the ones to decide whether they want to be amused by cheap animal tricks, or skip the show based on moral grounds.
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'Holidaze' will 'mesmerize, fascinate'
Cirque Dreams holiday production comes to Clay Center

Courtesy photo
In 2007, Cirque Dreams brought "Jungle Fantasy" to the Clay Center. On Sunday, its "Holidaze" production stops there.
By Bill Lynch
December 5, 2012
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" wants to take your memories of the holiday season and crank up the volume to 11. Neil Goldberg, the creator of Cirque Dreams, said "Holidaze" is "really a celebration of everything you remember about the holiday season as a child."
It's just louder, brighter and wilder.
Goldberg promised "Holidaze," which comes to the Clay Center Sunday, is a spectacle.
He said, "We transform the performers into penguins who balance on slippery objects. There's the train that goes around the Christmas tree, but for us, they're doing it with roller skates. We have angels soaring in the air and doing amazing acrobatics and rag doll contortionists bending and twisting inside of gift boxes, getting ready for the holiday season.
"I describe the show as Radio City meets the circus on Broadway."
"Holidaze" isn't the first Cirque Dreams show to come to town as part of the Broadway in Charleston series. "Jungle Fantasy" came to the Clay Center in 2007. This is bigger and better, though, Goldberg said.
"Jungle Fantasy," he said, had 24 performers on stage. With "Holidaze," there are 32, and the whole production is just more layered, more intricate. There's more music, more costume changes and just a lot more going on at any given moment.
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Acro-Cats circus entertains feline fanatics

Credit: KENS 5 TV
The traveling Acro- cat circus entertains feline fanatics by jumping through hoops, walking the tightrope, skateboarding and many other not-so-purrrfect but absolutely adorable tricks.
by Freddy Hunt /
December 5, 2012
St Louis---There's a cat named Tuna that plays the cowbell like a champ. No kittying.
The Josephine Theatre was packed on Sunday afternoon for The Acro-Cats' final 'Meowy Chrismas' performance in San Antonio.
The traveling cat circus entertains feline fanatics by jumping through hoops, walking the tightrope, skateboarding and many other not-so-purrrfect but absolutely adorable tricks.
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Credit: Freddy Hunt /
The traveling Acro- cat circus entertains feline fanatics by jumping through hoops, walking the tightrope, skateboarding and many other not-so-purrrfect but absolutely adorable tricks.
 The act also features a drumming chicken and a bowling groundhog in the best -- and only -- cat band in the world: The Rock Cats.
Samantha, the lovable ringleader, says cats are the worst professionals she has ever worked with, but the finicky felines are exactly what makes the show such a hoot.
The show also hosted an adoption event for Alamo Area Partners for Animal Welfare. Samantha said the Acro-Cats have helped nearly 100 cats across the country find permanent homes.
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Thrasher's gets a national nod
Named among the best fries in the U.S.

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In the November issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, Thrasher's is said to offer some of the 'Best French Fries in the U.S.'
Staff photo Laura Emmons
Written by Brian Shane, Staff Writer
OCEAN CITY — It won’t surprise anyone who’s ever waited in a long line for a bucket of their own, but Thrasher’s French Fries has earned a spot on a list of the premier purveyors of fries in America.
Travel + Leisure magazine named the beloved spud stand to its “Best French Fries in the U.S.” list.
“It’s hard to beat a bucket of hand-cut spuds that have been fried in peanut oil with skins on, especially when served with nothing more than a little salt and vinegar,” the review said.
Fry reviewer Laura Kinir said her list was the result of researching message boards and social media, which was narrowed down to encompassed various regions and fry types.
“Thrasher’s topped our list of boardwalk fries (loads of recommendations, faithful clientele, good ol’ fashioned potato taste), which seem to thrive mostly in the mid-Atlantic,” she said via email.
Thrasher’s came in at No. 11 out of 26 on the list, and competition was stiff.
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The National Circus School is Looking for Future Circus Artists for An International Career!
from: press release/
MONTREAL, Dec. 5, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Montreal's National Circus School is on the road again, this time for its official Entrance Examinations that will take place in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in February 2013. The School, a national institution, has become a world reference in the training of international-calibre circus artists. The majority of the country's professional circus artists have trained here and the placement rate for graduates has held steady at more than 95 percent. The School has also contributed to the emergence of such companies as Cirque du Soleil, Cirque √Čloize and The 7 Fingers, whose performances are applauded around the world
The young candidates that the School selects receive an artistic training, along with a general academic education recognized by the Ministry of Education. They are then ready to pursue a career that will take them to the four corners of the planet as part of the ensembles of leading circus companies. A candidate who wishes to pass an Entrance Examination (audition) must submit an application before January 15, 2013 and should visit
SOURCE National Circus School
PR Newswire (

Animal sanctuary is healthy fun

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A royal Bengel tiger at the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary spies on visitors from behind a tree after waking up from a nap in the sun. The Bengal tigers at the zoo were rescued and brought to Austin after living their lives in a circus. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
By Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
December 6, 2012 | Leisure
Most would say that one zoo is like any other zoo – lions and tigers and bears – but they are always fun for a family trip and great for learning about animals that we don’t usually have the opportunity to see in the United States.

This weekend, I made a trip to the Austin Zoo, in south Austin, thinking it would be like any other zoo I’ve been to around the country.

But the first thing I noticed, before I even got out of my car, was that it is tucked away in the outskirts of Austin – far enough out to where I was starting to get the feeling that I was in the wrong place.

The next thing I noticed (after I decided to stick it out and believe I was going the right way before turning around for a different route) was that it’s not only a zoo – it’s an animal sanctuary.

The zoo’s mission is to assist animals through rescue, rehabilitation and education. They call themselves a “rescue zoo,” and they obtain their animal residents by rescuing them from unfortunate circumstances.

Those circumstances range from being former circus animals or monkeys who have spent their lives in research laboratories, to exotic birds and other animals who have been kept inappropriately as pets. The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary provides a safe and secure home out in the country so that they can live the rest of their lives in peace, being taken care of and pampered at the sanctuary by a staff of animal lovers.

Once I learned this, I thought I would be walking around looking at animals that might be, well, sickly or sad. But that wasn’t the case at all.
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Illusionist and perfectionist: Alex Ramon learns magic's ropes with Disney, Ringling Bros.
By Lou Fancher,
San Jose, CA---It's getting to be an annual tradition: Alex Ramon and "Illusion Fusion" at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center.
Yup, it's the Richmond-raised conjurer's "Step Aside!" shout out to "The Nutcracker" and "A Christmas Carol" as the wizard in his walk and dazzle in his delivery spins the magic in two shows on Dec. 8.
Ramon does a Friday night gig in Tahoe, packs the whole show up, zaps into The Creek, then skedaddles back to Tahoe for a Sunday matinee.
Even in this newfangled Photoshop/Skype world, it's a magnificent feat, and Ramon is loving every minute of it.
"I'm a natural runner," he boasts. "To be honest, my genetics allow me to stay fit without trying too hard."
This is a man who can hack you in half with a saw and refuse to tell you how he did it, so caution is advised.
"There are only two ways to saw a woman in half: a fake box or a fake saw," he insists. "Or, there's a third way, the way I do it, with a real box and a real saw. It's classic magic."
At the post-show meet-and-greet, people often try to get Megan Doyle (also an East Bay native) to spill the beans. They ask her, "So, you're OK, huh?" Ramon claims they're dying to know the secret ... which is not even up for discussion.
"She has to have attention to detail, stay fit, sign a confidentiality agreement, not be claustrophobic and be willing to do what I say," he says.
Ramon is a perfectionist and he and his crew often rehearse new tricks for months.
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Rodeo funnyman JJ Harrison headed to the NFR

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By Annie Fowler
December 5, 2012

It’s hard to tell which takes more courage: taunting a bull in a rodeo arena with Fun Noodles, or wearing a pink sumo outfit — complete with a purple bathing suit.
For rodeo barrelman and entertainer JJ Harrison, both are all in a day’s work, and his hard work over the last six years has paid off. He was voted by his peers to work the National Finals Rodeo, which starts today and runs through Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.
“It’s the world championship for a rodeo clown,” Harrison said. “You don’t set it as a goal. It is very humbling. It’s a great honor, not just for me, but for the Pacific Northwest.”
Harrison, 37, has entertained rodeo crowds for years, including the Horse Heaven Round-Up in Kennewick and the Sisters Rodeo in Oregon, where he got his first gig.
His interaction with the fans, energy and creativity prompted announcers, bullfighters and fellow barrelmen to cast their votes for the Walla Walla funnyman.
“I believe he is one of the funniest guys out there,” longtime Kennewick bullfighter Rowdy Barry said. “I voted for him to go to the NFR, and obviously others thought he was worthy as well. He is the Northwest’s best-kept secret. The word is starting to get out.”
Harrison was at a rodeo in Billings, Mont., in late October when he got the call from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to work the NFR. “I was in a production meeting, and twice I let the call go to voicemail,” Harrison said. “When they called the third time, I knew I should take the call.”
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 Being a rodeo clown not all funny business
 Clowns key players in keeping cowboys safe

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Rodeo clown Keith Isley.
By Dave Toplikar
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012
They dress in clown clothes. They wear clown faces. And part of their job is to clown around and tickle your funnybone.

But behind the costume and makeup are serious, professional athletes who put their safety on the line to protect the cowboys competing in the rodeo arena.
After a rider falls or jumps from a bucking bull, the rodeo clowns — bullfighters and barrelmen — give the bull something else to go after so the rider can make it to safety. The bullfighters are in the arena on foot. The barrelman is inside a barrel and provides a barrier for the rider to duck behind.

Here are five nationally known rodeo clowns. The first, J.J. Harrison, will be working the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which starts this week and runs through Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.
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Letter: BEF Circus a Big Success
A letter from the Burlington Education Foundation.
December 5, 2012

A trapeze artist dazzles the crowd
Credit Courtesy BEF
The following is a letter to the editor from the Burlington Education Foundation on the recent fundraiser circus at Burlington High:
Thank you to all who came out and supported the Burlington Education Foundation at the circus. We had a fantastic time watching the Cirque Du Jour performers. The audience was entertained from start to finish by a daring acrobatic aerial act, jugglers, trampoline act, and many others. The dog show was a complete hit! Kids enjoyed playing carnival games and face painting before and after the shows.

Credit Courtesy BEF
We would like to thank our sponsors, Edward Jones Investments and LTB Insurance. They helped put on a wonderful show. We want to send an additional thank you to the Burlington Rotary Club for their donation to the foundation. Without these sponsors, we would not have been able to provide you with Burlington’s Big Top Circus.
Overall, it was a very successful event in getting the community involved and raising money for our children’s educations.