In its 25th anniversary year, Sarasota’s hometown circus, Circus Sarasota, is ready to bring chills, thrills and laughs aplenty to audiences of all ages with “Circus Sarasota Legacy: 25th Anniversary Show” from February 10 through March 5, 2023. Featuring new and innovative acts, Circus Sarasota’s 2023 production will offer high-flying action, heart-stopping thrills, laugh-out-loud comedic antics, and acts that defy both expectations and the boundaries of physical limitations.
Closing the show this year is a world-premiere performance by a duo straps act from Ukraine, featuring Maryna Tkachenko and Anastasiia Kornieieva. The Circus Arts Conservatory has joined numerous other members of the Global Alliance of Circus Schools to support circus artists from Ukraine by sponsoring visas and offering jobs so that they can work even while their country is at war with Russia.
“Just as the circus provides patrons with an escape from reality, the circus is providing Ukrainian artists with an escape from the horrors taking place in their own country right now,” said Circus Arts Conservatory president and CEO, Pedro Reis. “The circus unites everyone under the Big Top – it’s a potpourri of cultures and life experiences; we are proud to support fantastic artists like Maryna and Anastasiia who are determined to carry on – to inspire and entertain people with their art – despite what is happening back home.”
The lineup for the Summer Circus Spectacular includes:
- Joseph Bauer Jr. (Ringmaster): The multi-talented Bauer – a native of Sarasota – returns to Circus Sarasota to provide his elegance and prodigious skills as Ringmaster. Bauer, a star of Bauer’s Circus Maximus and a 15th-generation member of one of Switzerland’s oldest circus families, has performed from a very young age, thrilling audiences with acts such as the motorcycle on the incline wire, skywalks on the highwire, the death-defying 90-foot sway-pole, and the 50-foot whirling Wheel of Destiny. His circus career has taken him all around the world as well as to numerous illustrious circus venues, TV appearances, and competitions.
- Al “Renaldo” Calienes (clowning) began his circus career with the Big Apple Circus at age 26, eventually becoming a core company member. A gifted clown, he went on to work with Circus Sarasota, the Royal Hanneford Circus, the Luna Stage Theater Co., at SeaWorld, Canada’s Garden Bros. Circus and England’s Zippo’s Circus. Recently, he toured with UniverSoul Circus. He is also author/illustrator of the children’s book “Renaldo Joins the Circus!”
- Chu Chuan-Ho (tempo diabolo) was born in Tainan, Taiwan – he became fascinated by the art of diabolo (juggling) and began practicing at the age of 20. Renowned for his speed, power and incredible acrobatic moves, he has performed extensively throughout Europe, has been featured during Peru’s independence celebrations, and is excited to be making his U.S. debut with Circus Sarasota 2023.
- Oleg Izossimov (hand balancing) became enthralled with his act at the age of 12, after seeing Russian circus artist Nikolai Kasse perform; he decided then and there that this is what he would do. He made his professional debut in 1991 – after graduating from Moscow’s State College for Circus and Variety Arts – with a company of the Moscow Circus. He was a sensation with Circus Nikulin in Moscow and went on to win the Gold Star during the International Circus Festival of Verona in 1994. Since then, not only has he performed with a variety of renowned circuses and earned numerous prestigious awards, he has also directed a number of circus and variety shows.
- The JuJus (tight wire): Julien Posada discovered the circus arts at the age 7 through a performance in Paris, France. He trained in different disciplines before landing on tight wire as his specialty. He has won numerous awards at various festivals in Europe, China and Russia, and performed with Cirque du Soleil (twice) as well as other companies, with performances throughout Europe, South America, Canada and the U.S. Since 2016, Posada has been performing with Julia Figuiere as “The JuJus”; they made their Circus Sarasota debut in 2018 and are thrilled to return for the 25th Anniversary Show!
- The Liberty Horses: Sarasota native Sylvia Zerbini hails from a nine-generation circus family and has been performing since the age of 13. She studied ballet and gymnastics and performed on the trapeze from an early age. She began training the first horse she received as a gift at the age of 5, and was one of the first people to mix aerial trapeze work with horses in performance. She’s won numerous awards for her acts – including the prestigious Cup of Monaco, presented to her by Monaco’s Prince Rainier – and performed for millions the world over.
- Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix (trained dogs/comedy): This slapstick act will be a favorite for all ages! A Ringling Brothers Clown College graduate, Johnny Peers has been working with dogs since he got his first puppy from the Humane Society. Since their debut, The Muttville Comix have appeared on “David Letterman,” “Primetime Live,” and “Circus of the Stars,” and performed at Disneyland, Busch Gardens, the Big Apple Circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Royal Hanneford Circus, and even the White House!
- Alan Silva (aerial silks) is a sixth-generation circus performer from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He began training at the age of 4 and performing at the age of 6; he has been featured in acts including floor acrobatics, clowning, trapeze and maromba (a tight wire on springs). He has previously been featured in Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” production in Las Vegas.
- Maryna Tkachenko and Anastasiia Kornieieva (duo straps): Hailing from Ukraine, aerial straps duo Tkachenko, 40, and Kornieieva, 27, will present the world-premiere debut of their act with Circus Sarasota. The aerial specialists will present a daring, emotional, intricately choreographed, and high-altitude performance – conceived while their homeland has been at war – which will be sure to thrill and inspire audiences.
- Trio Addis (Russian Barre) includes circus artists Dejene Kene, Tewordros Alemayehu, and Yonas Teka, who have been training in the Addis Africa Circus School for 13 years. They have performed in Europe, at Moscow’s famous International Youth Circus Festival and other places, honing their act, and are thrilled to be achieving their dream of performing in the U.S. with their appearance in Circus Sarasota 2023!
- Wesley Williams (unicycle) received his very first unicycle on Christmas, when he was just 6 years old. Shortly thereafter, he started doing local shows in South Florida. He has performed on “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent,” and has won awards at the World Festival of Circus Art “IDOL” in Moscow at the famous Great Moscow State Circus and at the Festival Internacional del Circ “Elefant d’Or” in Spain. He holds the Official Guinness Book World Record for the “Tallest Rideable Unicycle” at 31 feet, 10 inches.
“At The Circus Arts Conservatory, we honor the legacy of the circus arts here in Sarasota 365 days a year,” said Circus Arts Conservatory executive vice president/COO Jennifer Mitchell. “We look forward to continuing to provide an entertainment option for all ages that is unique and unparalleled in our region … and beyond!”
Performances take place under the Ulla Searing Big Top on Nathan Benderson Park’s Regatta Island (5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota). Show times vary (Wednesday-Saturday at 7 p.m., Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m., Sundays and Monday, February 20 at 1 and 5 p.m.). Tickets are $20-$75. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit CircusArts.org or call the Box Office at 941-355-9805.
Oleg Izossimov is a world-renowned hand balancer
Photo by Cliff Roles
About Circus Arts Conservatory
The mission of the Circus Arts Conservatory is to engage and educate students using unique and innovative learning programs; to measurably improve the quality of life for individuals in care facilities; and to advance the extraordinary legacy and heritage of the circus. The CAC is home to world-class performances, excellence in training the circus arts, and community-based education and humor therapy outreach programs. Visit CircusArts.org or call (941) 355-9335.