Saturday, November 8, 2008


Since it was a warm but rainy day Saturday, we got some stuff done around the house while we anxiously waiting for the evening...

The Circus is in town, and we had tickets. It's a Ringling Brothers affiliated show at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, called the Boom-A-Ring, going on all weekend. It started at 6:30, and we had all day to get ready for it, but we still managed to hustle in at about 6:35. At least everyone else was already inside watching the show, and we had no lines to worry about...

The Boom-A-Ring show is basically a smaller version of the world famous Ringling Bros. show. It's one of four miniature, affiliated circuses currently touring the U.S. Apparently the Ringling brothers show has adapted a leaner, more economical approach to circus touring. Gone are the days of the Big Top and massive Three Ring shows, and in their place are several lighter mini-circus tours. Each circus (the Red, Gold, or Blue tour) stick to a particular main theme, like magic, or aerial tricks. The Boom-A-Ring's theme (the Gold tour) seemed to focus on audience participation, as this poor fellow found out:

The show was pretty fast paced, with non-stop, amazing, breathtaking tricks and balancing skills dozens of feet above the floor. And the excellent band on the edge of the ring accompanied the acts perfectly with appropriate music; sometimes tense, sometimes comical. There were tricks on rings and ropes, high above...

Amazing feats of balance and coordination...

And interspersing it all, were comedy acts by clowns and tricksters. It was pretty much everything a full blown circus would have, but all viewed in the space of a couple hours, and concentrated in one ring.

This being a circus, there were also animal acts. For many people the training of animals for human amusement is gradually losing it's luster, and concern for the animals' well being is becoming more and more wide-spread. I'm not sure how much these changing attitudes are affecting the circus industry, or if there's simply an economic issue, but this particular circus had only two brief shows with the larger animals. One was the world famous Ringling Brothers Elephant show...

The classic circus act, just like you see on all the commercials and posters, carried out without a hitch.

The other was a Bengal Tiger show. These animals are deadly, but utterly beautiful. They move so fluidly and gracefully that at times it appears they're moving in slow motion. It was a little unnerving to see so many of the giant predators in a cage with the trainer, but she kept complete control at all times, and the tigers performed flawlessly.

How they got to be so well behaved is the question, for a lot of people. I know that in the wild you'd have to look long and hard before you found a 500 pound Bengal Tiger perching himself on a disco ball.

Is this cruelty..? That's for you to decide. It's certainly unnatural. But circuses provide a valuable means of calling attention to the grace, beauty and feirceness of these creatures, and in an intertaining and active fashion that zoos don't quite achieve, and that you just can't get from two demensional television. They must be seen live to really be appreciated.

The Daschund show was awful cute too; but they did lack a little of the awe and wonder of the Elephants and Tigers.

The humans came back out. All throughout the show one particular actor was doing bicycle tricks of all kinds, and they got progressivly more daring and more bizzare as it went on.

He topped the above flaming bike show, by riding a miniature bicycle the size of a roller skate through a ring of fire.

The great thing that makes circuses so breathtaking is that all of these tricks, skills and daring manuevers are done live, in real time and in most cases with little room for error. It's a tradition of showmanship that goes back centuries, long before the age of special effects. The thrill comes from witnessing real daring and danger, instead of pixel manipulation.

This crossbow marksman shot the bloom off of a rose,

...and topped it by shooting backwards, aiming into a small mirror.

I mean really; They've practiced it hundreds of times, I'm sure. But still. Just a slight mistake, the crossbow slipping just a couple degrees, and this guy would be looking for a new partner.

The circus wound out with a show of athletic skill by a troop of gymnasts; spinning bouncing and hurling themselves head over heels.

Time flew by, and the show at last came to an end.

It was thoroughly entertaining. And a quick word of praise to the MassMutual staff, who first directed us to come down from the nose-bleed seats to some unfilled, better seats. Then, seeing that I was taking pictures, invited us to move again, and take some even better seats that had also been empty. Thanks again...

The exit shuffle was relatively smooth and orderly, and the parking garages are right across the street.

Just a short wait getting out of the garage, and we were soon zooming home...

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