Dima Shine balances atop a flag pole

Dima Shine performs atop a flag pole in this year’s production by Circus Sarasota

Sometimes, my weekends get away from me.

On Friday, I had two choice tickets for the opening of Circus Sarasota’s 22nd annual show and a daughter visiting from Cleveland with a really bad cold courtesy of having to travel from Cleveland by plane.

I have never missed any of these shows which always feature the very best circus acts. I have seen the Wallendas do their famous pyramid on the high wire and Belo Nock doing any number of daredevil things, including hanging from a helicopter above the red and white circus tent one year — that was not during a show but done to promote the show.

My favorite dog act involved a group of Jack Russell terriers that were discovered in various animal shelters in a variety of cities. One of them was even a wire walking dog — really!

I was even a guest ring master twice. It took them that long to figure out that being a ring master may not be my strong suit although I could blow the whistle they provided.

So naturally I was looking forward to this show and to taking Heidi to see it. By Friday morning, I too seemed to have the sniffles so going to the circus was not in the cards and I really wanted to get a review in early in the run which is just a few weeks. That is where friends come in handy.

They had to be friends who appreciate a good circus and if they could take some photos so much the better.

When I learned that Lou and Tanya Sauppe were already making plans to see the show in the next week, I gave them a call. They could go and use my tickets, take photos and report back to me on what they experienced.

It was all good as it turned out. My seats had been changed at the last minute, but, that was another good thing. Not only were the seats even better which made for some good photos but when they were trading vouchers in, the lady who helped them personally escorted them to their seats.

They loved the show, took way more photos then we will have room for, purchased a program for me so I would have the names of all the performers and were just about the best stand-in reporters I could wish for.

As usual, the show had several “how do they do that acts.”

Dima Shine, a flag pole artist shown in the accompanying photo is just one example. Duo 19 featuring Oliver and Cassie on the double trapeze was another such act that requires incredible strength and agility to perform the “however do they do that?” tricks.

Circus Sarasota often opens with a horse act and the Alanian Riders from Russia looked like a crowd thriller as they raced around the one-ring circle with riders doing incredible feats of balance on the backs of the horses.

No circus is complete without jugglers and Get the Shoe with “one comic, two combatants, 10 clubs and a pair of shoes” is this year’s entry. According to the program they “execute a duel in which high-level juggling technique is performed with Easten-style inspired martial arts. The act has been performed at all the major circus festivals of the world including Monte Carlo and the Cirque de Demain Festival in Paris.

This year’s dogs are poodles that actually emulate a daring act performed by Bela Noch in a past Circus Sarasota Show. Trust me...seeing will be believing.

Balancing acts are big in this show. Emil Faltyny works atop a “ladder” that one would not use to paint houses. He also has performed in Monte Carol.

Hannah Griffith has another balancing act — one on a swinging trapeze. Do not try this at home unless you grew up in the circus. Trio Dandy features a gymnast on a pole instead of a bar and the bar is held by his two partners, not fixed in place.

Dolly Jacobs, with two new hips, is not performing this year but she is in the center ring with husband and Circus Sarasota co-founder Perdro Reis — he in his tux and she is one of several stunning gowns she wears during these shows.

If I can get rid of this cold, this is a show I want to see. Thank you Lou and Tanya for helping me write my first vicarious review.

Coming up next Sunday, at 3 p.m. at the Venice Performing Arts Center is another one of those wonderful shows featuring local pianist Brian Gurl with friends performing his wonderful Gershwin show, “Gershwin With a Twist.”

Gurl was a prodigy who was tackling the ivories in a professional manner before he headed off to school — elementary school! With his wife Joey, he has been performing for many years throughout the southeast and finally settled year-round in Venice about two years ago. Our gain is your gain. If you have not seen one of his shows, what better way to begin than with Gershwin.

Performing with him will be vocalist Michelle Pruyn, actor Charlie Logan plus a dynamic jazz band.

His next show — his Celtic Show — will be March 17 at Venice Presbyterian Church and his third show of this season will be at The Players in Sarasota on April 3.

There will be more on those shows later. Meanwhile, for tickets to the Venice show next Sunday, call 941-218-3779 or visit: veniceperformingartscenter.com

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