1. Archive

The big top is coming

(ran PW, PS editions in PASCO TIMES)

In an age of electronic games and virtual reality, an old-fashioned circus with elephants, tigers, lions, acrobats and clowns performing in a big tent can be a welcome reminder of days gone by.

The Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus coming to Bayonet Point Mall Monday through Wednesday has all this, billing itself as "the world's largest circus under the big top."

In true circus tradition, the show has three rings for activities, with something going on somewhere throughout the 3,000-seat tent all during the two-hour show.

Cole Bros. Circus also trumpets the "superior quality of care received" by its performing animals _ a relatively new concern for both circuses and their patrons _ even holding an interactive educational program about animal training and care practices at 9:15 a.m. on opening day Monday.

At the seminar, animal superintendent Adam Hill and Tina the elephant demonstrate animal training techniques, which use positive reinforcement to teach the animals how to repeat natural behaviors like hind leg stands, roll-overs, headstands and mounts to put on a show. Hill also talks about animal nutrition and grooming.

The circus has 18 featured acts, five of them with animals and the rest performed by dancers, clowns, aerialists and acrobats.

The show opens with lion and tiger trainer Clayton Rosaire, a ninth generation animal handler from the English family that founded Rosaire Family's Royal Circus. The Rosaires are known for rescuing mistreated or unwanted lions and tigers, and Clayton's entire stable is made up of such animals.

The penultimate act is Hill and Bonnie Bale and their elephants that dance to disco music, followed by the grand finale, a one-gun salute where tiny Eli Pamoukov is shot from a cannon across the expanse of the tent.

In between are aerial chorus girls who do highkicks high overhead, gymnasts from Russia, a Spanish highwire act, trapeze artists, acrobats and balancing acts and a huge parade.

The show also has Gloria Bale's performing ponies, Valery Tsoraev's trained dogs, and what many will consider the impossible, Tsoraev's collection of trained housecats.

Other activities connected with the circus are a free clown show with the Wizard of Odd at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Gulf View Square Mall in Port Richey.

Starting at 7 a.m. Monday, the public is invited to watch the raising of the circus tent at Bayonet Point Mall.