Most Americans believe a circus must have elephants (or lions), dancing bears, and Acrobats. Circuses are evolving.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which has toured the United States for nearly 150 years, will close in May.
Circuses of all kinds are still famous. They include Cirque du Soleil. This combines music with acrobatics and storytelling.
Adam Woolley is the founder of Circus Now. This non-profit organization supports circus performers who want to combine circus skills, such as juggling, acrobatics, and trapeze, with storytelling.
Woolley claims that circuses are changing by telling more stories.
Cirque artists are producing new and incredible acts, apparatuses, and shows with a theatrical storyline or characters drawn in a way to be artistic context. This has been happening around the globe for about 10 or 15 years.
Race Horse Company, a circus from Finland, is one of them. This month, it was part of Circus Now in New York.
Acrobat Rauli Ksonen founded the Circus nine years ago with other performers.
It’s pure art because you can feel the risks. There are many, and you can get adrenaline from watching it if it has tricks that make your heart bounce. It’s because it is accurate. Because it’s real. It’s probably why he has always found circuses appealing. It reminds us, um that we’re human.”
Kosonen was injured several times during his performances.
“Well, it’s part of my job that I had three operations; sometimes you just don’t get luck.”
Kendall Rileigh, one of New York’s Only Child Aerial Theatre’s founders, is a seasoned aerialist. She says that the ability to tell a story or narrative is more important for her group than circus skills. She says the circus skills are meant to support and drive the story.
Rileigh’s actors are practicing for their latest show, “Asylum,” in a former Brooklyn factory.
Nicki Miller, the co-founder of the show, says there is a narrative, but no one speaks. The story is told by acrobatics, dance, music, projected images, and Shadow.
It is a theatrical piece that includes aerial work, dancing, some recorded and live music, an overhead projector, and Shadow. The story is told through the use of vocabulary rather than dialogue.
The Only Child and Race Horse performers Adam Woolley say they want to entertain.
With lots of hard work and practice, we can achieve the impossible. This is the core concept that all circus performers believe in, and they try to convey this idea to their audiences. “I have dedicated my entire life to these seven minutes of performance. I’ve refined my skills to the point where I can achieve something in front of you that you never thought was possible.”
Jeff Lunden, a correspondent in New York, reported on this story. John Smith adapted this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly edited the story.
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Editor’s note: The original article incorrectly identified Kendall Rileigh as a female. Kendall Rileigh has a female gender.
The Story of Words
Acrobat – someone that entertains (as in a circus) people by performing difficult and sometimes dangerous acts.
Trapeze – a bar suspended high above the floor by two ropes, which circus performers use to perform athletic tricks.
unbelievable adj. excellent, good or large
apparatus – n. an instrument or piece of equipment that is used to perform a specific activity
context – n.the conditions in which something occurs: the set of requirements that exists where and when an event happens
Adrenaline – n.a chemical substance released by the body when a strong emotion is felt (such as fear, excitement, or anger), which causes the heartbeat to increase and gives a person more energy
Appealing – adj. Having qualities that people find pleasing; attractive
shadow A dark shape appears on a surface if someone or something is moving between it and a light source.
Overhead projection – a display device that projects information or images on a screen or wall by shining light through a sheet of paper with the knowledge or pictures on it.
vocabulary – n.words related to a specific subject; words that a person knows and uses
core the primary or most important part of something
impart – v. To make (something) known to someone
hone – v. make (something like a skill, for example) better or more efficient
to succeed at (something).