Three members of the Lopez Troupe perform a bicycle/splits ride across the high wire.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
by Casey Phillips
March 14, 2013
In the typical office, the greatest danger workers face is running out of coffee or putting up with tedious Muzak in the elevator.
Shifts for Maria Lopez, 29, on the other hand, are a bit more exciting.
As a performer in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Lopez starts her day 22 feet above the ground on the high wire with her husband, Jonathon, and brother-in-law, Johan. There, they perform vertigo-defying tricks such as handstands and unicycle rides, all without benefit of a safety net.
Later, Lopez's father-in-law, Alfonso, throws knives with 12-inch blades at her and her sister-in-law, Erika.
Before she can clock out, however, she joins Jonathon and Johan behind the handlebars of three motorcycles, which they race around inside the Globe of Steel, a 12-foot-wide cage that is the world's smallest for this sort of act.
Although she is quick to point out that she must maintain absolute focus during all three of the family's acts, Lopez says it's hard to see what she does as work.
"It's my hobby, my passion," she says, laughing. "It's like you're on vacation all year long, and even better, they pay you for it."
The Lopezes are one of a dozen acts that will be featured today through Sunday, March 14-17, when "The Greatest Show on Earth" sets up in McKenzie Arena.