Hannah Griffith on the swinging trapeze.

Image: Ian Dean

It’s heartening that, in our times so frequently described as “divisive,” something as simple as a clown tossing his hat to audience members and they back to him, should be able to bring people together in laughter. And yet so it is with the Remarkable Renaldo (Al Calienes), who welcomes audiences to this year’s Circus Sarasota with just that act.

Trio Dandy

Image: Ian Dean

Of course there’s much more to Renaldo’s tomfoolery during the show, including the by now familiar but still entertaining re-enactment of shooting a spaghetti Western with several “volunteers” from the audience. And happily, too, beyond the comedy, audiences can also find common ground in the antics of the Dominguez family poodles; the steamy (but still PG-rated) Duo 19 couple on trapeze, acting out their relationship to “Cry Me a River”; the juggling/martial arts fun of Get the Shoe; the Russian barre flair of Trio Dandy; the grace of the Alanian Riders; and much more.

The Alanian Riders

Image: Ian Dean

High-wire enthusiasts may be disappointed that there is not such an act for them this season, but there are still thrills in the air with Hannah Griffith on the swinging trapeze, soaring right side up, upside down, and every which way; and the aforementioned Duo 19, who make what they do look easy (as well as hot).

Get the Shoe

Image: Ian Dean

Get the Shoe offers a fresh take on juggling, as the duo act here relies on, and succeeds with, some slo-mo artistry and an accompanying soundtrack that punctuates their moves. Dima Shine impresses with his strength and balance on the flag pole, to which he sometimes, somehow, presents his body at a perpendicular angle. Emil Faltyny likewise makes us mere mortals barely able to ascend a stepladder pay close attention as he stands atop a zig zag ladder or a rolling one, walking it in a circle or, ultimately, lifting a ball into a basket above him with one foot—all the while balanced on a ladder padded by what look like ordinary furniture floor protectors. And, last, but certainly not least, you’ll hold your breath while Trio Dandy’s Kirill Ivanov does high-flying twists and somersaults on that flexible but thin Russian barre, supported by Johnny Glaser and Yury Kreer.

Duo 19

Image: Ian Dean

 

The Dominguez Poodles

Image: Ian Dean

So, yes, in troubled times, maybe a visit to Circus Sarasota is just the tonic you need. Performances continue under the Big Top at Nathan Benderson Park, behind The Mall at UTC, through March 1. For tickets, call 355-9805 or visit circusarts.org.

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