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Photo from the Royal Canadian Circus Facebook page.

Step right up… The Royal Canadian Circus

By Fiona Tapp on August 13, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… this weekend, why not run off to the circus?

The smell of the sawdust, the plush velvet seats, bright lights, and anticipation of a night spent being delighted by acrobats, animals and clowns all underneath the big top, are all part of the experience.

The Royal Canadian Circus has been presented by ten generations of the same family since its humble beginnings in Paris, France in 1763.

It’s a travelling circus that this year will be making multiple stops across Alberta, Thunder Bay and right here in Ottawa at the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club at 300 Coventry Road. The show runs August 12th-14th and has showings throughout the day and evening, during the weekend.

Animal lovers will be comforted to know that the family at the helm, the Zerbinis, take elephant welfare very seriously, providing excellent care to the animal performers and even run an elephant sanctuary from their Florida home.

However, the show has to go on without the elephant performers this year, due to mounting pressure from those that feel circuses shouldn’t feature large animal performers at all.

The Royal Canadian Circus is not just an elephant show and still manages to produce a world class production without them.

There’s something so exciting about approaching the main tent alongside an anxious throng of patrons, ticket stub in hand, waiting to be entertained, amazed and enthralled.

Once seated, we were treated to a vast variety of fabulous acts. Amazing acrobats, swinging and flying across the stage, a gymnast who held himself aloft on silks, sometimes with just one hand, a show of particular strength and poise. Clowns delighted young and old alike with their mostly potty-based humour, glamorous dancers entertained, and a hula hooper extraordinaire, managed to turn herself into a human slinky, becoming a memorable highlight.

The Videla Family clowns returned retiring their jokes and impressed with their unicycling, including the youngest clown climbing atop a 20-foot cycle and confidently riding it around the stage to our amazement. Beautiful horses galloped around the stage as their talented and brave riders, the Kabarov Riderz, performed all number of tricks upon their backs, hanging off their flanks and even recklessly underneath their belly!

The standout star of the show turned out to be the ringmaster himself, Joseph Dominick Bauer, who was the finale act. He ran, leapt, danced, and even juggled flaming pins atop a giant moving wheel, ominously called the “Wheel of Destiny”. When he almost fell, I thought my heart would stop– but it seemed it was all part of the show and boy what a show!

The performers hail from all over the world, including Switzerland, Cuba, Argentina, USA, Kyrgyzstan, Romania and Peru.

The best thing about the Royal Canadian Circus performance was that twenty or more performers managed to delight and thrill a very mixed crowd using only their bodies and well-honed skills. It was an impressive reminder that traditional entertainment and showmanship can still catch our attention and imaginations in our computer-dominated world. It made me marvel at what a human body can do, and made me want to go for a jog!

My 2-year-old had a little trouble sitting patiently for the entire two-hour show, although there is an intermission, but on the whole, he was definitely entertained. The support staff consisting of security and food service personnel had the child patrons in mind as they happily blew bubbles and interacted with the crowd.

Food options include circus favorites such as popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels, cotton candy, peanuts and toffee apples.

I realized as I watched the spectacle, that the last time I had been to the circus was when I was a child of no more than 8 or 9 years old. The performers and organizers of the Royal Canadian Circus certainly took me back to that magical place of wonder and imagination and I was thoroughly entertained. Do yourself a favour and catch it while you can!

Visit the Royal Canadian Circus’ website for more information, or find them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.