Ambra Andrine and her horses

Image: Staff

We go to the circus to see people do things—in the air, on the wire, atop wheels, etc.—that we couldn’t do ourselves even if were safely on the ground. On the street or in the supermarket, circus performers may look a lot like you and me (although probably much fitter), but under the Big Top they are—something else.

That’s true of this year’s edition of Circus Sarasota, which delivers the thrills, the laughs and the occasional gasps that audiences expect. The international line-up of performers assembled here does things we can only dream about doing, and for the six or seven minutes each is in the spotlight, they compel us to watch.

Valerie Inertie on the Cyr Wheel

Image: Staff

That’s true from the outset, as Ambra Andrine descends from an aerial circle (lyra) to command her horses around the ring. The horses are beautiful, and she makes for a beautiful presence herself. (She’s the daughter of ringmaster Joseph Bauer Jr., who does double duty this year in the Wheel of Destiny, but more on that later.)

Comedian Cesar Dias

Image: Staff

As the show progresses, we are entertained by juggler Victor Krachinov (who may have had a little trouble with small round objects on the night we attended but blazed in a blur with the long, slender pins), comedian Cesar Dias (who pulls volunteers from the audience for a couple of bits, as well as makes everyone laugh with his rendition of “My Way,” complete with a microphone stuck in his pants), and the canines of Hans Klose, whose poodles and other pups are a fast-moving hit.

We’re also introduced to the Kolev Sisters, the only female hand balancing act we (and probably everyone else in the crowd) have ever seen. Whether one sibling is balancing on one hand atop the other’s head, or one is using her incredible abdominal muscles to support the other, these sisters are really doin’ it for themselves.

The Kolev Sisters

Image: Staff

The Carrillos’ high wire act engages us as the performers risk it all with ever escalating feats; Valerie Inertie in a balletic pairing with the Cyr Wheel is a thing of beauty; the Curatola Bros. play games of comic one-upmanship that never obscure their real talent in hand-to-hand acrobatics (no props needed here); and Sons Company’s teeterboard act demonstrates the role their skiing prowess has had in perfecting their flips, twirls and achieving the feel of flying as they launch themselves high in the air.

Hans Klose and his Trained Canines

Image: Staff

But speaking of high…Bauer and his Wheel of Destiny force us to crane our necks upwards as the man so well known as the circus’ ringmaster shows us his daredevil side. It would be enough if he just walked the inside and outside of that wheel as it spins so many feet above the ground, but no, of course, there are pins being juggled (flaming pins at that) and ropes being jumped here, too. It’s a relief for all nervous Nellies when he finally comes back to earth, but he puts on quite a show.

Joseph Bauer Jr. and the Wheel of Destiny

Image: Staff

There’s still time to catch the many talents of Circus Sarasota; the show continues under the Big Top at Nathan Benderson Park through March 10. For tickets call 355-9805 or go to circusarts.org.

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