Cirque Banquista by the Lone Star Circus – In a Word? Amazing.

This afternoon, I took my 4 year old to a grand Vegas-style show…without leaving Dallas.
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We went to see Cirque Banquista, produced by the Lone Star Circus (Creative Director:  Fanny Kerwich, and 8th generation circus artist), held at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts.  And it was wonderful.

We were greeted at the entrance by a pair of clowns (literally), each trying to lure us through their door.  Inside, the carnival atmosphere continued, with children from the Lone Star Circus School performing in the lobby.  (Who knew there was a Circus school in Dallas?  And who knew it was so good, at least judging from the feats these kids no older than 13 or 14 years old – and some as young as probably 6 – were performing on aerial straps, ropes, and juggling while walking on balance balls?)

From the moment we sat in our seats (Section B – the “cheap seats”, which is a misnomer given that the intimate theater has no bad seats at all), it was clear we were in for a special treat.  For one, a striking woman was walking around with purpose – but I noticed her mostly because she had the most amazing abs I’ve ever seen on a female (I’ve since figured out she was Fanny Kerwich herself).  Families with children were there (like us), but also couples young and old, and even a group of ladies who may have been having a girl’s afternoon out.  The show started a little behind schedule, I think because they were still selling tickets to what ended up being a full house, and I started getting a little worried about the ability of my son to sit through the performance. 

Ha.  No worries on that front.  He and I were both mesmerized from the moment it began.  I found myself saying “How can they DO that???” at least once during every part of the show.  After the first act, during intermission, I pulled Jack out into the lobby to ‘get a book’ (i.e., the show program) which I’d skimped on before going in, so I could see the stories behind these amazing people.  And it was worth the $5 to get a glimpse into how these performers came to be on the stage that day.

It’s hard for me to pin point a favorite act from among the incredibly talented people who performed.  But I have to say, these are my top 5:

  • The Poema family from Argentina with their Risley act (Risley meaning “foot juggling with human partners”).  The father sat in a specially designed chair and, with his feet, spun his kids in the air doing somersaults, on a balancing bar, break-dancing…..amazing.
  • Mayya Panfilova and her Performing House Cats from Russia.  The fact that she could train her cats to merely go into and out of their crates at her command was amazing enough to me (as a cat owner and lover).  That she trained them to do things like cross a tightrope holding on with their arm pits or jump through a hula hoop is beyond comprehension still — and I saw it with my own eyes!
  • Raphaele Daubois who performed an electric hula hoop routine – at one point making me think she’d turned herself into a human slinky with something like 20 hula hoops going at once.
  • Morgaine Rosenthal and Ryan Webb, who did a pairs aerial act on straps.  Admittedly, the athelticism of Morgaine held my attention more, although Ryan’s ability to hold himself upside down on a trapeze bar by only his feet was pretty amazing.  But Morgaine’s swinging, twisting, and flying made me gasp several times – and wonder how in the world this is not yet an Olympic sport (and trampoline is??).
  • Adam Vasquez, with his “human balancing” act.  This man basically held his body off the ground horizontally with his arms for something that seemed like 15 minutes.  Truly incredible. 

By not mentioning the others, I am short-changing them, because they were all really so amazing.  The quick-change act of Olga & Vladimir Smirnov was magical, the aerial hoop performance by Olga Coronas was stunning, and the ongoing light comedy by Slappy & Monday (of Slappy’s Puppet Playhouse) and the Pi Clowns was a treat. 

But I have to also give local lady Stephanie Stewart, who gave a great performance on aerial silks, a huge shout out.  I had been telling myself that, as a Mom of 3, I shouldn’t feel so bad about my own flabby, inflexibility while surrounded by these lean, muscular, svelte ladies performing all sorts of contortions with their own bodies.  But then I read about her – a Mom of 2 kids old enough to be attending Circus School themselves.  In fact, she got into it AFTER enrolling them, and now travels the country performing!  Wow.  Makes me think if they offer a Circus Body Bootcamp, I’d be first in line to enroll (especially after seeing the abs on Fanny Kerwich – OMG!).

So, if you have a chance, go see Cirque Banquista.  And if you miss it this time, let’s hope the Lone Star Circus produces another show for the next holiday season.  If it does, it will definitely be on the list of Holiday Traditions to start with your family!