Under the Big Top: the Circus in America
Aerialists spin and swing with perfect form!
Highwire artists teeter 30 feet above the audience!
Fire-breathers shoot flames ten feet high!

Gallery shot of star performers
Circus costumes
Circus stars are master athletes who practice a variety of disciplines over years of hard training. It's time to get started! Try some gymnastics, weight training, music, dance, pantomime, juggling, animal training, sports, acting and entertainment of all kinds. Performing in the circus can be dangerous work, however. Even so, most troupers agree that "Performing is in my blood. If I don't perform, I feel like a part of me is missing."

Historically, the "backyard" was where they lived, in wagons carrying costumes, makeup and everything needed to keep the show on the road.

Today's traveling circus is an entire community on wheels or rails. Creative teams include talent scouts, production directors, costume designers and tailors, bandleaders and musicians, cound and lighting crews, and choregraphers. Road teams need staff for public relations, operation and finance, circus ministry, food service, laundry, props, veterinarians, animal handlers, train crews, tent riggers, and transportation. In winter quarters you'll also find repair crews, mechanics, electricians, carpenters, graphic artists and print shop production ... WHEW!

Fun Facts
  • During a triple summersault, an aerialist starts spinning 38 feet above the floor at 60 miles per hour.
  • The high wire is made of strands of steel, one-quarter inch thick.
  • Human cannonballs have been shot 85 feet during an explosive flight from the cannon, traveling at speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour!
  • Stilts are made of wood or aluminum, range in length from 8 to 14 feet, and are strapped onto the legs of the performer. Then the stilt pants are pulled on ... with the help of an assistant on a ladder.
  • In 1859, French gymnast Jules Leotard leaped from one trapeze to another, thus inventing th flying trapeze. He became one of the great sex symbols in 19th century show business due to his athleticism and the revealing costume he wore ... know as a leotard.

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