Since 1993, Cirque Dreams' family-friendly variety extravaganzas have called upon a cast of acrobats, strongmen, and daredevils to wring the oohs and aahs out of audiences with tremendous feats of derring-do. During each themed production, more than 100 performers garbed in dazzling outfits twirl high in the air, contort their bodies into impossible shapes, and solve long division problems to earn uproarious applause from the crowd. At Dream Studios in Pompano Beach, Florida, hundreds of contracted artists from around the world develop their skills and prep for Cirque Dreams performances under the direction of Neil Goldberg and his team of choreographers, contortionists, and designers.
The State Theatre was saved, as its website states, from "the ravages of time." Built in 1921 as a vaudeville and silent-film palace, the venue fell on hard times in the 1970s. In 2003, however, a $3 million renovation restored the State Theatre to much of its original glory, as crews painstakingly rehabbed the ornamental plaster, terracotta exterior, and actor holding cells. Inside the theater, a stunning chandelier sparkles more brightly than ever below the venue's signature dome.
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.
At Cirque Italia, aerialists and acrobats look down to see a very unusual set: a 35,000-gallon water tank. As the high-energy acts swing from ropes and flip over trapezes, fountain jets below crisscross in mesmerizing patterns. Among them, the bicycle of death-defying Capitolino Mitrovich navigates a high wire strung precariously across the tent.
On the ground, the strongmen of Duo A&A put their muscle-bound physiques to work, pulling feats of strength such as balancing from each other's heads on one hand and unloading a clown car full of groceries. In a nod to the aquatic setting, Corissa Wilson does a mermaid act in midair. And between acts, Coco the Clown?who once set a Guinness World Record for riding a 5-inch bicycle?keeps the crowd's spirits high as the human pyramid. Other world record holders, The Juggling Fusco Twins, put their club-juggling abilities on display alongside a hula hooper who prances alongside a ring of water and an Italian singing act that performs while upside down. Many of the acts come from around the world, whether they're twisting and flipping atop a towering coat rack or manipulating beams of laser light in the Laserman 260 show in the towering 70-foot tall big-top tent.
The seasoned performers of Piccadilly Circus dazzle audiences of all ages with 90 minutes of acrobatics, comedic high jinks, and trained animals beneath the big top. Audiences gasp at high-flying trapeze artists swooping through the air with the confidence of a kite in a wind tunnel, as well as contortionists able to bend themselves into human bonsai trees. Death-defying motorcyclists roar into a caged globe to perform a 360-degree display of vehicular mastery. Gaggles of clowns coax out chuckles, and a trained elephant parades around the ring, occasionally stopping to memorize an audience member's phone number. General-admission seating surrounds the ring, allowing ample viewpoints from which to observe the boisterous spectacle.
At Cirque Italia, aerialists and acrobats look down to see a very unusual set: a 35,000-gallon water tank. As the high-energy acts swing from ropes and flip over trapezes, curtains of rain and fountain jets crisscross in time to each move. Among them, the Verticali act, in which seasoned performer Gimmi Fornaciari sings classical Italian songs while suspended upside down high above the ground.
On the ground, Fornaciari returns as Laser Man, deftly defying the laws of physics by holding, splitting, and even wielding beams of green laser energy. In a nod to the aquatic setting, Morgaine Rosenthal does a mermaid act, rising from her shell before ascending into the air for a grace corde lisse performance. And between acts, Coco the Clown?who once set a Guinness World Record for riding a 5-inch bicycle?keeps the crowd's spirits high as the human pyramid. Other captivating sights include the humorous antics of the Twin Sailor's Duo Lira act, human-sized bubbles, and Montalvo's trio, who balance and pose atop the reed-like structure of their precarious Chinese pole.
In addition to acting as a love letter to the traditions of the Italian circus, the latest Cirque Italia show is also a tribute to the ingenuity of founder Manuel Rebecchi. As the nephew of Moira Orfei, the world-renowned queen of the Italian circus, Rebecchi combined his family's pedigree with his own groundbreaking ideas to form a company that leaves crowds breathless and competitors hurrying to catch up.