Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Red, White & Bello!
Circus Arts Conservatory
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Chess

Bello Nock
Photo Courtesy of Circus Arts Conservatory
February is always one of my favorite times of the year, because it is time for Circus Sarasota, under the auspices of The Circus Arts Conservatory. This year's production is entitled Red, White & Bello! and is built around the antics of daredevil clown Bello Nock, Sarasota born and raised and he still lives here. Ringmaster, 15th generation circus performer, Joseph Bauer, Jr. introduces him as "my cousin" Bello. Bello has three features, the best of which involves him going almost completely inside a very large yellow balloon, while in another he pulls down a rope from its pulley and then works to get the rope back where it needs to be. He weaves in and out of other featured acts and is clearly the big star of the show.

The featured acts for the rest of the first act are: Mario Berousek from Czech Republic; speed juggler Shannon Monni from Italy; aerial contortionist Marc Giely from France; and acrobatic bicyclists and again from Italy the Pellegrini Brothers, with the most incredible feats of hand balancing I have ever seen.

Act two at Circus Sarasota traditionally opens with a dog act, this year The Dominguez Poodle Review from Bogota, Colombia. Truth to tell, for me, the act is stolen by their little boy in a dog costume and a feisty little terrier. Next up is Deborah Maloku from France, juggling primarily with her feet, called antipode. Dolly Jacobs and Rafael Palacios perform "On the Wings of Love," an aerial act. Dolly and her husband Pedro Reis are the heads of the Circus Conservatory and she is the daughter of superstar clown Lou Jacobs who spent 40 years with Ringling Brothers Circuses. She is, to put it politely, perhaps a few years past the age when many performers have put their costumes into long-term storage, but she looks gorgeous and is always a delight to see. Annaliese Nock and the wheel of wonder is the 11 o'clock act. On opening night the young Ms. Nock earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records by performing four consecutive somersaults in her apparatus. She is assisted by Shawn Roth and of course proud Papa Bello gets himself involved as well. She is a circus star in the making.

For me one of the joys of attending a circus is the chance to mingle with other members of the audience; the atmosphere is just a bit more relaxed. Also, I love seeing young children experiencing what was for me a wondrous experience when I was younger (and which still is). I was seated in front of the most adorable two year old from Bradenton with his doting grandfather from Cincinnati and spoke with a lovely family, father, mother and two beautiful young girls visiting from Detroit. I hope they and all the other families in attendance enjoyed the show as much as I did.

Circus Arts Conservatory presents Red, White & Bello!, through February 28, 2016, at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota. For more information, visit