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.
Ranked among Ticketmaster's Top 25 Most Requested Family Events for five consecutive years, UniverSoul Circus grants an interactive spectacle of acrobatic stunts, dance, and comedy set to popular urban sounds. With its swirling lights and pulsing beats, the circus's resemblance to a blowout concert tour is no accident: production designer Tom Marzullo has created internationally touring stage shows for Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, and Prince.
As hosts, a troupe of improv comics slip laughs in between the gasps and draw the crowd even closer into the action. Meanwhile, the production makes jaws drop farther with trained elephants, illusions featuring a live tiger, a head-balancing act from Vietnam, and female contortionists from Ethiopia. These make up just a few of the globally sourced performers, others of whom hail from locales as diverse as Colombia, South Africa, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago.