The weather last week was gloomy, but that didn't dampen the spirits of Krizia Carr and five other female trapeze artists, four of whom had flown in from New York and California.
As the rain subsided, Carr, 29, sloshed through her water-soaked back yard and adjusted the cables of an enormous trapeze rig consuming much of the space.
Then she and the others, chalk on their hands, began their ascent up a ladder made of steel and cable. With a narrow platform as their base, they soared from end to end of the rig, performing midair tricks such as splits, layouts, straddle whips and turnarounds.
Jenni Roselle, 29, a fearless woman with enough upper body strength to catch a 175-pound human spinning in the air.
Normally, a man does that job. But the only male around was Carr's husband Paul, who watched from their deck as he minded their children, Genevieve, 2, and Angelique, 8 months.
"I have the world's first and only all-female flying trapeze troupe," said Carr. At least as far as she knows.
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Carr is a third-generation circus performer and a second-generation flying trapeze artist.
Born in Sarasota during the 112th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, she was raised and schooled on a circus train.
She's performed with dogs, elephants and on bicycles. She's been a clown and whirled in the Globe of Death, but her true love is the flying trapeze.
She learned to fly at the age of 5, performing with her famous family, "The Flying Caceres."
Her dad, Miguel Caceres, is a flying legend. A native of Colombia, he was the first to dazzle audiences when he caught performers doing both a triple and a triple-and-a-half somersault consecutively in a single performance. The Flying Caceres are also known for catching a quad somersault, the most difficult of trapeze arts.
Carr's mother, Luz, flew, too. Her brother George is a trapeze star with Ringling Bros. Now Carr wants to make her own mark in the high-flying world of trapeze.
She calls her troupe Coquette, referring to a woman's propensity to be feminine and attractive while performing the beautiful art of trapeze.
"We're not trying to be men," she said. "We're feminine and just doing what men can do. As women, we're naturally weaker and it takes us a little longer to learn, but we can do this."
According to Carr, trapeze is a 150-year-old male-dominated profession.
"That's old-fashioned and annoying. My brother got more practice time, and I thought it was wrong. I've got potential, too," she said. "This is about girl power."
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Carr and her husband, a 30-year-old electrician for the U.S. Coast Guard, bought their home in unincorporated Pinellas in February 2010.
It had just what they were looking for — a long and deep back yard that would accommodate the 60-foot-long, 32-foot-high bar-to-bar trapeze rig. And with no city ordinances or homeowners associations to reckon with, "It was just perfect," he said.
Carr's rig is one-of-a-kind. She designed it herself using both new and old parts from her dad's rig.
Carr hasn't performed professionally since 2007, but she still feels the pull of the ring. She yearns for the bright lights, glittering leotards, appreciative applause.
As she began to envision Coquette, she wasn't sure she could find a female catcher.
Then she met Roselle, who was living in Boca Raton at the time.
"Jenni tried out as a flyer; she impressed the hell out of me," Carr said. In April, Roselle moved to Clearwater to train with Carr. Weather permitting, they practice together almost every day.
Roselle, who is 5 feet 8 and weighs 150 pounds, began training in the art of trapeze two-and-a-half years ago when she moved to Los Angeles.
She's always been athletic, and said she loves heights, having spent much of her youth doing rock and mountain climbing.
And to become the first professional female catcher in the world?
Well, she's up for it.
"I feel myself getting stronger every day. I'm gaining confidence and experience."
She lifts weights, consumes a lot of protein and tries to eat right.
This week the troupe, its members ranging in age from 25 to 44, made an audition video to send to circus agents. They hope to participate in the fall and winter circus festival season in Europe. They hope it will be the first of many.
"We love European circus festivals, they are so traditional and very beautiful," Carr said.
"And they give out awards. We love to compete."