The first thing people notice about Circus Vargas is its big-top tent. Hand-fashioned in Milan from 90,000 square feet of cerulean-blue fabric dotted with yellow stars, the canopy completed the illusion of an elegant lost era when used in the 2011 film Water for Elephants. The last thing people notice is the absence of animals. They're too busy gaping at a man balancing a 12-step ladder with his mouth.
Keeping its marvels strictly human, Circus Vargas builds on a 40-year history by blending classic feats of fearlessness with surprising new tricks. The show features magic tricks along with a skilled hand balancer, a speed juggler, and the wheel of destiny.
Drop into hip-hop (Tuesday, 8–9 p.m.) to energize your stale disco moves; materialize in tap (Wednesday, 7–8 p.m.) to invigorate your toes with rhythm; dance and shake off the calories, Latin-style, with Zumba (Thursday, 8–9 p.m.); or open up a can of grace with ballet (Saturday, 12–1 p.m.). With five gleaming studios and a full squad of certified dance instructors breaking the beat together under a single roof, this much dance has not been gathered in one place since the release of YouTube as a DVD box set. The drop-in classes are designed to accommodate dancers of all skill and experience levels. The small class size ensures the type of personal attention formerly only children longed for upon the arrival of a newborn baby brother. Sign up with a few friends to gain new moves and lose a few pounds in the process.
A charter member of the MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes played their first four seasons as the Clash before claiming the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003. Though the team moved to Houston in '05, the franchise was reinstated in '08, bringing professional soccer back to the Bay Area. Buck Shaw Stadium serves as the team's current home, though a new stadium will shoot skyward in 2014, complete with luxury suites for fans and exhausted referees alike.
Like a perfectly broken-in glove or a lucky bat, RD Academy stays with ballplayers for years and years. It also plays an important role in a ballplayer's development.
When Santa Clara University head baseball coach Dan O'Brien founded the academy, he didn't design it for just one age group, but instead as a resource that players can turn to from the moment they pick up a ball to the moment they have to pick out a college. The academy's youth camps, for instance, emphasize the game's fundamentals to kids aged 7–13. When the time comes to move up to the next level, the academy organizes high school showcases, where ballplayers can impress college coaches without hurling a fastball through their bedroom window, and then immediately repairing the window.
Since 2001, Badfish has energetically replicated the ska-punk sounds of Sublime, regaling fans who were never able to see the band live after the untimely death of primary songwriter and lead singer Bradley Nowell. Badfish culls its accurate renditions from the California punk legends’ three-album catalog, including hits from its major-label debut, Sublime, deep cuts from lo-fi classic Robbin’ the Hood, and several reggae-rich versions of the Baywatch theme song. Openers Scotty Don’t and Just Chill warm up the crowd on Avalon’s standing-room dance floor with dubstep tunes and an incense-smelling contest.
Celebrating its 40th season, the nonprofit Lyric Theatre regales the public with extravagantly staged productions of classic light operas. Feast ear-buds on sweet sounds performed by a volunteer troupe of opera-trained actor-singers, a full chorus, a 24-piece live orchestra, and one extremely skilled conductor's baton. The Lyric Theatre's The Sorcerer begins the quartet by mixing Victorian comedic stylings with Bollywood-inspired staging. The Gondoliers, Gilbert and Sullivan's lively tale of royal mix-ups, makes a melodic mockery of the British social system. The nautical chuckle-fests H.M.S. Pinafore and season-closer The Pirates of Penzance tickle funny bones of all ages with peppy maritime music and historically accurate knot-tying jargon.