Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Circus Sarasota

Also see Bill's reviews of Fly and The Matchmaker

Duo Shcherbak & Popov
Circus Sarasota is back with this year's edition, titled Fearless, featuring The Flying Wallendas starring Nik Wallenda, "King of the High Wire." Circus Sarasota, headed by Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs, re-incorporated as Circus Arts Conservatory two years ago, taking several other organizations and programs under its umbrella, including PAL Circus. Now, Circus Arts Conservatory offers expanded educational programs as well as various performances throughout the year, but the yearly edition of Circus Sarasota remains its center piece. This year they have chosen a new location, Nathan Benderson Park, adjacent to the new University Town Center Mall.

Fearless is staged under the Big Top, European-style with a single ring. A favorite from previous editions, Ringmaster Joseph Dominick Bauer, Jr. presides over the show, keeping the audience informed. The array of talent on display is enormous. I am always stunned by the organization's ability to get some of the world's leading circus acts. All of the acts are on a very high level. Highlights include hand balancers Shcherbak & Popov (winner of the top prize, l'Étoile d'Or, at the prestigious Circus Festival of Grenoble, France); Russian Barre Trio Stoian; Aerial Act Dolly Jacobs and Raphael Palacios; and The Pork Chop Revue, trained pigs. Renaldo, the featured clown, has his best routine in the second act when he selects four audience members to participate in making a movie. At the performance I attended, all four were quite animated and the whole thing became hilarious. The grand finale is The Fabulous Wallendas. The highlight of their act is the very dangerous seven-man pyramid, developed by Nik Wallenda's grandfather, Karl Wallenda. I had seen the pyramid several years ago at Circus Sarasota and it is still thrilling. Fearless is a very strong edition of Circus Sarasota.

One of the joys of circus is its family appeal. I attend many theatrical events where the audiences are strictly adults, so when I attend a performance with families with children I feel a certain joy in the air. I was delighted to be seated next to birthday boy Adam (six years old) and his very gracious family. Seated directly in front of me was Cara, a charming young lady who told she was enjoying the circus.

After the performance, all performers are in the entrance tent, available to sign programs. While my companion for the evening was having her program autographed, I watched Nik Wallenda very graciously allow a man to have his picture taken with him. He is very much a class act!

Circus Sarasota is great entertainment for children of all ages.

Circus Arts Conservatory presents Fearless, through February 22, 2015, at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota Fl. For more information, visit

Complete list of acts appearing:
Sergei Byakin, Divine Dressage
Remarkable Renaldo
Gamal David Garcia, Juggler
Dolly Jacobs and Raphael Palacios, Aerial Pas De Deux
Trio Stoian, Russian Barre
The Pork Chop Revue
David Burlet, Plate Spinning Extravaganza
Duo Shcherbak & Popov, Hand Balancing
Anton Monastrysky, Hula hoop Extraordinaire
The Fabulous Wallendas

Photo: Courtesy of Circus Arts Conservatory

--William S. Oser