Circus Flora has been a St. Louis tradition since its inception in 1987, and remains a tribute to the vision and hard work of Ivor David Balding and a group of equally visionary local supporters and board members. It’s circus in the European tradition; meaning there is there is a story that ties each act in with the other, much like the famous Cirque de Soliel.
St Louis native Laura Lippert thrills and amazes as she hangs from her toes from what looks like a folding chair suspended several feet off the ground. She is never still for long, slithering snake-like through small tight spaces in the chair and employing ankles and toes to keep herself from disaster. Laura is incredible.
Twin sisters Valerie and Stephanie perform the “aerial mirror” in which they deftly synchronize their movements on a suspended hoop until they literally seem to be one person. Their grace, strength and beauty are amazing.
Equally amazing is Shayna Swanson who performs the free floating hoop and the aerial rope act to breathtaking perfection. Witnessing this amazing woman suspend herself in various positions from a thick length of rope utilizing only the strength of her own body brings home the full danger and skill it takes to perfect this act.
The world famous Flying Wallendas perform their feats of magic on the high wire, and not a breath came from the audience as the Wallendas climbed into the incredible live pyramid, inching across the thin wire with nary a net nor trampoline beneath them. Even the children were silent as the Wallendas crossed that wire.
The Bertini family and their amazing unicycles gave us gasps and laughs as they rode around the ring at breakneck speed, presenting us with their son, Vincent, who at ten is already a skilled cyclist and adorable daughter Violet just two years old but capable of sitting regally atop her father’s shoulders as he weaves and roams around the ring on the tall cycle. And can she ever sell a “ta-da”! Little arms out, face lifted to the audience, she is already the consummate performer.
Our own St. Louis Arches perform with their usual skill, juggling, tumbling, flying, throwing themselves around the ring with precision. Given that these wonderful performers are still children, the oldest being less than nineteen; one can’t help but wonder what they’ll be like in a few more years. Arches graduates are already being accepted into some of the most prestigious circus traditions in the world.
Luciano Anastasini presented us with his Pound Puppies act, a collection of several dogs rescued from shelters around the country. Assisted by his sons, Adriano and Brando and his wife, Gladis, trainer Anastasini presides over an enthusiastic troupe of eager dogs who seem more than ready to do his bidding and to have fun.
From Riders of the Ring snaking over and under and dangerously close to the flying hooves of incredibly beautiful horses, to the twenty or so jugglers in a circle making dizzying tosses and catches, to the antics of the beloved Nino the Clown (Giovanni Zoppe) and his stunning loop-the-loop Circus Flora is without a doubt, the biggest little bigtop you’ll ever see.